FESTIVAL organisers marked the end of its "unbelievable" 23-year history at the last ever event.

Thornwood Village Festival organisers handed £7,500 to St Clare's Hospice in Hastingwood, which has benefited from more than £40,000 over the festival’s life.

But after nearly two decades of bringing fun and excitement to the village, those behind it have been forced to retire.

Shirley Hawkins, chairman, said: "Some things cannot go on forever. The age group of those who have contributed to the event, especially over the last ten years, are young at heart.

"But sometimes the legs don't work quite so easily."

Residents were thanked for their donations and support.

Ms Hawkins also thanked The Gardening Club for raising almost £500 this year by selling members’ produce and Weald Aviation, organisers of the Community Day on North Weald Airfield for allowing the group free use of a stall for a tombola.

She said: "From day one we have been very grateful to have had a number of businesses who have sponsored our day and on occasion have been our saviours."

Dani De'ath, community fundraiser at St Clare Hospice, accepted the cheque at the presentation.

She praised Thornwood villagers for their ‘unbelievable’ backing, saying: "As a community you support the hospice in such an unbelievable way."

Thornwood residents were also hailed for their fundraising efforts by Cyril Hawkins, North Weald Bassett Parish Council.

Volunteers at St Clare Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support raised £12,350, some of which will be spent on installing a defibrillator at the hall.

Mr Hawkins said: “"For a village this size everyone deserves a pat on the back.”