WITH six weeks to go until the new year, organisers of Peebles' Hogmanay Torchlight Procession have admitted that this year's event is unlikely to go ahead.

Staff shortages and a lack of sponsorship have been listed as the main issues behind the cancellation.

Since the procession launched in 2015 by events company Hillside Outside, it has raised money for a variety of local charities, as well as valuable funds for the Peebles Beltane celebrations.

Event director Neil Dalgleish told the Peeblesshire News: “We’re very proud of the procession – it’s a beautiful event. It’s a lot of fun for local families and we know it brings people to the town at Hogmanay, but we’ve hit some problems.

“Our daughter is long-term unwell, meaning Fiona is unable to work, which has left us short-staffed most of this year.

“In addition we’re under a lot of pressure to find new sponsorship deals – our two biggest sponsor contracts for our summer events have recently ended and as often happens, it’s very difficult to find replacements. It’s tough to make things stack up.

He added: “Our events might be award-winners, but sponsorship is a key part of making the sums add up, and trying to line things up for next year is taking a huge amount of time. Even the Torchlight Procession doesn’t add up without extra support, and we’ve just not had time to make it all happen.

In order for the event to be carried out safely, a significant amount of time and expenditure is required.

“There’s a reason that this kind of event is usually funded by their local council or tourism organisations – they often don’t make sense commercially.

“The event involves fire, children, families, all moving about on a dark night when the weather may not be too friendly - it has to be impeccably and totally professionally organised.

“Wax torch prices have increased and we may need a new supplier. Insurance and other costs are up too. We’re really sorry but at the moment we just don’t have the resources available to make it happen.”

The company are confident the event can return next year, but are still reluctant to give up on this year.

Neil said: “There’s still a chance if we can find sponsors and a willing band of helpers, but we only have a window of a couple of weeks now or it’s too late.

“If businesses want to help save the day, please get in touch, and if anyone can help with stewarding on the night that would be a huge help too.”

Anyone wishing to help out with the event can contact Neil by calling 01721 588050, or via email at office@hillsideoutside.com