THE organisers of Millport's Country Music Festival have explained their decision to axe event.

The showcase attracted the cream of country music acts from both sides of the Atlantic including Drake White, Sunny Sweeney and Eastenders star Shane Richie.

Gavin Chittick and wife Christine took over the running of the festival five years ago and raised the bar using his experience and contacts music industry experience.

This years' event was hit by a railway strike on the main Saturday which saw a drop in attendance of around 1,000 revellers.

The couple began looking at projections for 2023 - and have decided, with the cost of living crisis, that the numbers no longer stack up

Gavin, 64, said: "Following a review taking on board the financial and economic factors going forward, we have decided not to progress with planning for the festival in 2023.

"We have looked at a number of different scenarios and all the variations and formats to try and make them work, but the prerequisite was always to keep the quality high and we felt given the external factors that are now against us, we couldn't bring that forward in a manner that is viable.

"Obviously the railway strike this year was a bitter blow and when you take into account the way inflation and the exchange rate is, the costs next year are going to be higher. It then becomes very difficult to proceed.

"People are also going to have less disposable income and then ticket sales become an issue.

"We are getting older and have a number of things we would like to do.

"Running a festival of this magnitude is always a huge financial risk and gamble - it cost in the region of £160,000 a year to stage and the risks have become too great."

Gavin, who has helped to run country music events on both sides of the Atlantic, has always had a strong affection for Millport and he says it was a dream come true for him to make the event such a success.

He has said that if someone is willing to take over the festival he will be more than happy to hand over the reins.

He commented: "If someone with the knowledge, skills and resources is able to have a go, then I would be delighted.

"The whole purpose of hosting the event was to generate economic benefit for the community, and through our calculations we believe we have brought in around £500,000 of economic spin-offs to the island during the past five years, which is pretty remarkable."

Asked for his personal highlight, Gavin said: "Having top artists from the USA performing was just magical but the delight on the faces of everyone who came along is what I'm most proud of."

Gavin says he hopes to host some smaller musical events on the island in the future.

He added: "It might not be the final curtain yet, there might be some sort of encore down the line. Right now I just want to thank everyone who has helped in making the Millport Country Music Festival such a success."