HAILSHAM: Funding crisis for bonfire celebrations

Members of Hailsham Bonfire Society
Members of Hailsham Bonfire Society

HAILSHAM Bonfire Society has urged members of the public to dig deep or face losing the town’s annual bonfire celebrations.

For the last six years, hundreds of spectators have flocked to the town to watch the much-loved free fireworks display and torchlight procession which is held at the back of the Freedom Leisure Centre.

But a general lack of funding, together with the prospect of finding a new site, means that the annual fireworks display is in danger of fizzling out.

Lynn Broderick, secretary of the Hailsham Bonfire Society, which runs the event, told the Gazette that this year’s display was in jeopardy if the Society was unable meet the £8,000 running costs needed.

“We are not starting with as much money in the bank this year and we had to dip into our reserves last year,” she said.

“If people don’t back us, they are not going to have the enjoyment of our evening.

“It is really sad for the people that set up the Society and have worked very hard over the last six years keeping it going and putting on this free event.

“There is so little going on in the town and to have a free night out with the children is very rare. It is going to be an awful shame for the residents of the town to lose this event,” she added.

In an extra blow, The Bonfire Society is also on the hunt for a new location to hold the fireworks display after outline planning permission was granted to redevelop its current location at the back of the Freedom Leisure Centre.

At Hailsham Town Council’s environment and leisure committee meeting on Monday (February 14), the Bonfire Society asked for permission to hold future events at the Maurice Thornton Playing Fields.

One of 35 bonfire societies in Sussex, Hailsham’s Bonfire Society dates back to the 1800s but collapsed in the 1980s because of a lack of funding.

After a 16 year gap, it was reformed in 2005 on the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot.

The annual fireworks display on the third Saturday of October raises money for a host of local charities.

The Society’s annual meeting is on Thursday (February 17) in the Methodist church Hall, Hailsham High Street (opposite The Grenadier) at 8pm. New memberships can be obtained on the night.

Monthly fundraising bingo nights are held at the Charles Hunt Centre at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. The next one is on Friday (February 18) and includes a raffle and coffee break.