CHARITIES have been left counting the cost after major fundraising events were either cancelled or postponed.

Events up and down the country have been cancelled after the Government advised against any unnecessary social contact.

One of the casualties has been the Colchester Half Marathon which was due to be held on March 29.

However, organisers have decided the tenth annual race will no longer take place.

More than 3,500 runners were set to take to the streets in the milestone race, many of them raising money for good causes.

In a statement, organisers said: “Based on the recent developments regards the coronavirus it is with great sadness we are not to be able to go ahead with our event on March 29.

“During recent weeks we have been watching events closely as we desperately wanted to go ahead for our tenth year.

“However, the wellbeing of our runners, volunteers and spectators has always been our priority.

“In the unprecedented circumstances we would ask for patience and understanding as our volunteers turn their attention to ensuring the event can return bigger and better in 2021.

Headway Essex was set to be one of the main beneficiaries from the money raised by the event.

The Colchester-based charity, which supports brain injury survivors and their families, had hoped to receive more than £60,000 from the event.

However, the charity said cancelling the event was “the right decision”.

Fundraising manager, Tracy Wellsted, said: “It is heartbreaking but it is the right decision the event does not go ahead this year.

We understand the disappointment felt by many people who were training for the event and those who had signed up as volunteers but we are sure everyone will understand.

“We also want to thank the Colchester Colne Round Table for all the effort they have put into the event, selflessly, to help local charities, we know they are bitterly disappointed.”

Another key north Essex charity which depends on fundraising to provide its services is St Helena Hospice.

The charity, which helps people across north Essex facing incurable illness and bereavement, was due to receive sponsorship from 19 runners in the London Marathon, 16 in the London Half Marathon and dozens more in the Colchester Half Marathon.

Director of fundraising and communications Alison Lanchester said: “As a charity we rely on the kindness of people taking part in events like this, raising funds and giving donations so that we can continue to provide our service in the community, at the hospice and over the phone 24/7.

“With the postponement and cancellation of these massive events, we could lose the pledge income that we were expecting, meaning we need to find other ways to raise the funds we desperately need to care for our patients and their families.

“We need the support of our community now more than ever.”

“By donating £23 you could pay for a community nurse to visit a patient in their own home, which is particularly important where they have been advised to stay isolated.”

The Mayflower 400 Harwich half marathon, which was scheduled for April 5 has also been cancelled. The event will now take place on April 11, 2021.

Every runner who has a place in this year’s event will be able to take part in the rescheduled event and the entry limit of 1,100 will be lifted to allow more people to enter the race.

The Secret Art Fair in Colchester has been rescheduled from May to December.

The fair will now open on from December 11 to December 13 with an invite only launch event on December 10.

Event curator Iona Hodgson said: “We hope everyone will understand that the decision to reschedule The Secret Art Fair is for the benefit of the public.

“It has been a hard decision but one we feel has to be made to make sure the fair is a success for everyone.”

Colchester Council has also announced it is to cancel its committee meetings until the end of April.

It says it will allow officers focus their attention on tackling the impact of the coronavirus.