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  • Luke Johnston

End of an Era as Gerard Richardson Retires

It is the end of an era for The Whitehaven Festival this week as Gerard Richardson the founder and Chief Executive of The Whitehaven Maritime Festival Company has stepped down prompting the end of the company.

Gerard said on Facebook "You may be aware that I have decided to retire from organising major events and i just wanted to say thank you for all the fabulous support. Events are nothing without an audience and you provided an audience anyone would be proud of. I have other plans for community events for the future but just not on the scale of the past. Thank you for the best 18 years ever, its been a cracking rush."

Gerard has brought huge names to the area over the years. From the red arrows and headline acts such as: Madness and Sir Bob Geldof to HM Queen Elizabeth when she visited in 2008. Others include: Mcfly, Status Quo, Boy George, Dynamo and Xfactor star Louis Walsh.

The idea began back in 1999 when the first Festival was held. It was expected that 10,000 people would turn up but in fact the event was packed with 80,000 people. The Festival then branched out and made an annual event which attracted crowds of 350,000.

Gerard was awarded an M.B.E in 2011 on the Queen's honours list for services to the tourism industry and Whitehaven.

In 2014 the events where toned down and split into several seperate events which included all the elements of the festivals but as seperate events, these included: Home & Garden Show, Concerts, Western Lakes Film Festival and Airshows. Gerard was trying to bring back the large 3 day festival for 2016 but when it come round to the organising Gerard said he couldnt face the stress. It takes around 30 hours per week for a year to organise a Festival and on top of that Gerard runs a business, is a magistrate and also has 4 children and 6 grandchildren.

Gerard said "I always say, never say never" when asked if he would return and organise future events.

We have some wonderful snaps of the Queens visit and the 2010 Festival below courtesy of Chris Gurney.

Gerard Richardson M.B.E shows HM Queen Elizabeth II round the Historic harbour.

Fireworks after a long, busy day.

Part of the fair at the festival.

McFly on the large stage.

McFly playing the guitar.

One of the helicopters at the air display.

Another Royal Navy helicopter.

One of the large ships


The Vamps lead singer Brad Simpson.

​(C) Cumbria Media 2015.

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