A VILLAGE is set to be stripped of its fairtrade status after faltering interest from volunteers.

This time next year Kennington will no longer be able to claim it is an official supporter of fairtrade - unless new supporters step forward to rebuild a disbanded group.

Kennington 4 Fairtrade split last month after eight years promoting farmers' rights in developing countries.

Its chairman Robin Mason said: "We started with eight or nine members but that's gone down over the last few years; it's been increasingly difficult."

The organisation's efforts earned Kennington recognised status from the Fairtrade Foundation, which is proudly displayed on road signs at either end of the village as well as on posters in the village hall.

It held annual family events and worked closely with St Swithun's School and local shops to promote the movement.

Mr Mason, 71, said: "The foundation puts forward ideas about what to promote - early on it was bananas, then tea and coffee then gold.

"When fairtrade farmers get together and become more efficient and produce more premium products, they become more likely to develop where they live, and be more sustainable as a community.

"The organisation brings communities together to do something worthwhile and useful; it's very important. I think it's very beneficial for people to take ownership of their community. I don't think there's a kid in the school that doesn't know about fairtrade."

Mr Mason said several groups in the village and surrounding area are 'struggling' to secure people power, and when the organisation disbanded it had just three members including himself.

The Oxford Mail reported last year that Kennington Youth Club had closed due to a lack of leadership, and the village's much-loved annual gardening contest is also at threat due a wavering search for a new organiser.

Mr Mason said: "Young folk are particularly busy and it's quite difficult to find people. There's more pressure on people now than when I was younger; that's been the big factor. It's generally something people do when they're older."

But he remained hopeful that the organisation could 'rise like a phoenix' before the village's official fairtrade status is removed in January next year.

He said: "It can certainly continue if there's enough people to take it on. There's still a bank account and all the banners and merchandise - they can set it up pretty easily. It's not a mammoth task, it just takes a little bit of time and interest. It's not an onerous thing."

The role would involve helping to plan three or four fundraising and awareness events a year and liaising with the foundation for guidance.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering can email robin.mason@hotmail.co.uk.