Community event cancelled after 16 years due to decline in numbers

Hawkesbury's Relay for Life event has been cancelled in 2019 due to a decline in numbers.

The event usually takes place in September and celebrated its 15th year in 2018, raising money for people affected by cancer. However a date for 2019 had not been set, and organisers made the decision to cancel late last month.

Cancelled: Participants at the 2017 Hawkesbury Relay for Life at Hawkesbury Showground. The 2019 event has been cancelled. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Cancelled: Participants at the 2017 Hawkesbury Relay for Life at Hawkesbury Showground. The 2019 event has been cancelled. Picture: Geoff Jones.

"After careful consideration, Cancer Council and the volunteer organising committee have decided to cancel the 2019 Hawkesbury Relay for Life," organisers stated. "Given the decline in numbers over the past few years, and the need to scope out a more appropriate venue for the event, we're going to review the possibility of holding a bigger and better event in 2020."

Yvette Haines from Cancer Council NSW said numbers had dropped "quite significantly", and the decision to cancel had not been an easy one.

"Back in 2014/15 the numbers were around 700 participants and in 2017/18 the numbers have dropped to around 300 participants," she told the Gazette. "We have had no registrations this year as no date had been set."

The event had also been moved to a different location within the showground at Clarendon that had not been as suitable, she said.

"The Hawkesbury Showground has been a fantastic supporter of the Hawkesbury Relay for Life for many years. The past two years has seen the event move to a different location within the showground which was not so suitable ... hence the decision has been made to source a different venue," Ms Haines explained.

Richmond resident Heather Lee last year clocked up more than 100,000 steps - the equivalent of about 80km - participating in the relay over 24 hours, and expressed her disappointment in the cancellation of this year's event.

"I am going to do The Hills this year, I feel like I want to do it and I am disappointed it's not on here," she said. "To me cancer is such a part of everyone's lives.

"I do think people get donation weary with so many other charities around but cancer? Come on. Who knows who is going to be next?

"The Hills and Penrith seem to do so well, so it's disappointing the Hawkesbury has not stayed with it."

A community forum is due to take place on Monday, May 27 to discuss the future of of the event in the Hawkesbury.

"We will be discussing how we can improve and generate interest for the relay," Ms Haines said. "This forum will be open to the general public, [and] we have invited past participants from 2015/16/17/18.

"We will be discussing how we can improve and generate interest and get new fresh ideas that will increase numbers and improve the event.

"We're also hoping to get new people involved. We want to find community members who are willing to be actively involved in delivering the relay."

The forum begins at 7pm at Windsor RSL, Argyle Street.