A famous Dorset event which had to be called off due to the pandemic and was facing a 'very difficult winter' has been given a vital cash boost to help it survive.

The Great Dorset Steam Fair is among the heritage organisations receiving money Government’s £1.57bn 'lifeline' Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the pandemic.

The fair, traditionally an annual event at the 600-acre Tarrant Hinton showground showcasing Britain’s rich industrial, agricultural and leisure history, gets £236,200 which will be used to help towards monthly operating costs over the next six months.

Steam fair managing director Martin Oliver said: "The fair was inaugurated by my father Michael and a small group of enthusiasts. After 51 years of consecutive shows – some of which have seen us fight against unimaginable odds and elements – 2020 is the first year in the event’s history that the show has been forced to cancel due to the pandemic which has caused us ongoing uncertainty, as it has for the rest of our industry.

"I was shocked at how the coronavirus crisis took hold and how it has suffocated event livelihoods, in our case; showmen grounded, world class exhibits being put up for sale, traders and caterers permanently closing, contractors and entertainers of all types clawing through months and months of cancellations, enforced career changes. My heart sunk at the prospect of losing my core staff when the furlough scheme ends.

"As a commercial operation with fixed monthly operating costs, 2020 has been a very difficult financial year for us.

"As part of our grant application, the Culture Recovery Fund Heritage team asked us to explain what would happen if the Great Dorset Steam Fair was no longer able to operate viably. In frank terms, moving forwards, no event would mean no income and left unchecked this would inevitably lead to future loss of sustainability. If we were no longer able to operate viably, then the annual Great Dorset Steam Fair event would cease to exist, ending 51 years of an extraordinary worldwide heritage attraction."

He added: "We are therefore extremely humbled to have been awarded this grant which will help us through what would have been a very difficult winter and I cannot thank the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage team enough for their fantastic support. We can now work tirelessly with our exhibitors, traders, contractors, the statutory authorities, emergency services and partner agencies towards delivering a safe and successful event in 2021 for our visitors – restrictions permitting.

"The importance of our show to everyone one who is involved is not lost on me or my family and its continuation for future generations is something that I take very personally."