Slideshow: Storm of flame lights up Hailsham for best bonfire ever

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Hundreds of people lined the streets of Hailsham on Saturday (October 18) for the town’s annual bonfire.

Despite fears that 2013 would be the last bonfire celebrations in Hailsham, the town’s bonfire society battled on and returned with a spectacular display.

Hailsham Bonfire 2014 by Darren Gillett

Hailsham Bonfire 2014 by Darren Gillett

The firing of a maroon heralded the start of the evening’s entertainment and Hailsham Bonfire Society led the visiting bonfire societies on the first torchlit procession which took off from Western Road and snaked through the streets of the town.

As the procession entered the High Street the society initials were ignited in red, white and blue fireworks. The procession halted at the war memorial where a traditional act of remembrance took place. Two large firework poppies and fireworks commemorating World War One were lit before the traditional crackers were ignited, the shower of red paper representing the Flanders Poppy.

The Grand Procession formed up at 9pm and with torches blazing, society members marched through the town to the Leisure Centre Car Park where the bonfire was lit and culminated in the fiery destruction of Guy Fawkes.

Crowds gathered to watch the flames take hold before the Hailsham Bonfire Society tableau was lit up with a fiery bang. The tableau was a cartoon kangaroo with the head of Australian artist and entertainer Rolf Harris. The tableau met its fiery demise as sparks erupted around it.

During the evening South Heighton Bonfire Society was celebrating after winning the cup for best visiting society.

Last year the Express reported how Hailsham bonfire society feared the 2013 celebrations could have been its last because of dwindling members, a failure to attract support from businesses and a lack of donations from people.

But after an appeal in the Express, a campaign to attract more sponsors and a drive for donations at last year’s celebrations, the event was saved.

Society spokesman Mike Farley said: “This time last year Hailsham Bonfire Society was in a very difficult situation with the future of the society in some doubt. I’m glad to say that due to the outstanding support of some Hailsham businesses and local residents, we have overcome these difficulties and managed to deliver yet another stunning event.

“Costs have increased significantly but the generous donations have allowed us to deliver an event that we believe was even better than 2013.”

The street collection raised £1,200 for Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, WRAS, Hailsham Army Cadet Force, Hellingly RFC, Sussex Search and Rescue and Environment Hailsham. The society thanked everyone who made the event possible including sponsors Alsford, Callenders, Chapter 12, Charles Church, Chris Scott-Harman, The Corn Exchange, Costcutter, The George, Iceland, Kitprint, Li’s Cottage, Parker Building Supplies, Waitrose, Wickes, Subway and Heathfield Windows and Hailsham Town Council, Truffles, Brad Mitchell, Hailsham Scaffolding, PJ Skips, Greenacre Recycling, Hailsham Army Cadets and Sussex 4x4 response.

Photographs by Darren Gillett of Sussex Bonfire Pics.