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Comment: Why Kirkstall Festival 2021 is a triumph of volunteering and community spirit

Words: WLD editor John Baron

Most years Kirkstall Festival is the biggest community event of its type in the UK.

And while this year’s mini festival may have been scaled back due to the pandemic, it was arguably one of the most important in its 41-year history. It gave people the chance to reconnect with their community after an incredibly difficult 16 months or so.

Each year the festival at Kirkstall Abbey draws more than 25,000 people from across west Leeds and beyond.

What some people tend to forget is that it’s run entirely by volunteers – dedicated, hardworking and inspirational people who band together each year to help plan and ensure #kirkfest goes with a bang.

This year’s efforts were understandably scaled-back and attended by far fewer people for safety reasons, but you have to salute the volunteers for going out of their way to plan anything at all in such difficult circumstances.

Last year’s event consisted of series of virtual events and this year’s was ticketed and aimed at families, while closely following Covid guidelines. It happened against all the odds and was the result of sheer passion and determination.

Here at West Leeds Dispatch, we also have a volunteer-led board and all our community reporters are unpaid. We know what it’s like to do things for the love of your community – some of our board and community reporters are also very active with the festival.

Kirkstall Festival is run by the community for the community. The dedication, professionalism and sheer brilliance of these volunteers is breathtaking.

I just wanted to say THANK YOU.


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