‘We endeavour to be bigger and better every year, and try to be as safe as possible.’ That is the word from Southover Bonfire Society’s chairman Stephen English as it gears up to deliver a procession and fireworks display to remember.
It will be a particularly poignant bonfire as the society remembers friend, secretary and life member Keith Austin who died on August 20 this year. Known as ‘Mr Bonfire’ he upheld the traditions of the fifth for more than 50 years.
Mr English said: “We will very much be remembering him as we remember all members who have died. I think every member will have a tear in their eye. He used to say an old bonfire saying ‘True to each other’ and we will be remembering him and his words.”
It will be the ninth year Southover Bonfire Society have marched through the streets of Lewes since its reformation in 2005. Southover Bonfire Society holds a service of remembrance for those who lost their lives in both world wars. And this year will be no exception, Southover will begin its procession of remembrance at around 9pm. The first procession will take place when it gets dark and children are very welcome to attend. Later in the evening The Grand Procession will move off from Southover High Street.
Around 5,000 torches have been made and will be paraded through the streets by around 650 members. Mr English said: “We try to be better every year and try to be as safe as possible and will of course be encouraging people to not to use fireworks in a public place.”
The society is keeping its tableaux secret right up to the last minute but Mr English suspects it may carry a political message. Costumes to look out for on the night include First Pioneers: Cluniac Monks. They lead the Southover procession with the monk’s bell cart which announces the society’s arrival. Next is the Second Pioneers: Bucaneers, in their striking and wonderful pirates costumes. The procession will lead the way to the Stanley Turner Ground where fireworks will light up the night sky. Tickets to the fireworks display are £5. For procession times, routes and where to buy tickets buy the society’s programme priced at £1.50 from the Lewes tourist information office.