Sussex batsman Chris Nash has urged local cricket fans to get behind this year’s Horsham Festival to ensure the historic event is never put in doubt again.
Nash grew up playing his cricket at Horsham and said it would have been devastating if the popular week had been axed - something that looked a very real prospect before local businesses and an anonymous benefactor stepped in to save it just in time.
“I was absolutely delighted when I heard the festival was going ahead. It was the best news for me personally having played there since I was a kid and having such great memories of returning to the ground for Sussex,” said the opening batsman, who is currently in recovery after bursting his appendix a month ago.
“It’s been going for such a long time and thousands of people have grown up going to it. Last year’s one-day game on the Sunday against Kent was absolutely packed and just showed what a fantastic event it is when fans turn up in their numbers.”
Close to £15,000 was raised in around two weeks after the severity of the threat to the festival - which first took place at Cricketfield Road in 1908 - was revealed by this newspaper last month.
It means Sussex will play Warwick in an LV County Championship match at Cricketfield Road, starting on Monday July 21 and then take on Nottinghamshire in a 50-over clash on Sunday July 27.
Doubts still remain over the festival’s long-term future though with no main sponsor in place, and Nash has urged local cricket fans to turn out in force to make this year’s week a roaring success.
The Sussex vice captain said: “Hopefully this will serve as a bit of a wake-up call and the people of Horsham will really get behind it and give it their support because they are what makes it a success.
“Luckily some kind donations and help from local businesses saved it this year but we need to make sure it’s never in doubt again because it would have been totally devastating if it had gone.”
A mystery individual, who has asked to stay nameless, stumped up several thousands to save the event and Nash said: “All the Sussex lads love playing at Horsham, we joked that Steve Magoffin was the anonymous benefactor after his 12 wickets last year.”
The Sussex squad are currently on their annual pre-season tour of Dubai but Nash has had to miss the trip after being hospitalised when his appendix burst exactly a month ago.
Believing his stomach pains were a bug his other half had at the time, he was initially misdiagnosed by nurse and went home, only for his appendix to rupture, something that can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Having been rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, he had an emergency operation and though he was out three days later, an infection saw him back in hospital for another eight days.
Nash said: “It was quite scary being in a hospital bed with tubes and needles everywhere, especially because I’m a healthy 30-year-old who hasn’t really had much wrong before.
“We rang 111 and they asked me two questions and that was it, an ambulance was there in five minutes so it was pretty clear it was an emergency and they operated straight away.
“I am lucky because it can be very serious, but yesterday I got the all clear from the doctor from any infection so I’m free to start very light fitness work.”
Nash has lost 8kg in body weight though and will take time to recover fully, and says he could miss up to four County Championship games.
Sussex’s first competitive match is against Middlesex in Division One starting on April 6.