Bonfire group under threat

Hailsham Bonfire Society
Hailsham Bonfire Society

This year’s bonfire celebrations in Hailsham could be the last if the town’s bonfire society cannot attract new members or more support from people and businesses.

Hailsham Bonfire Society said the cost of staging the annual free event has been increasing year on year but membership and support for the society has been in decline.

The cost of staging the annual free event has been £6,000 each year.

Mike Farley, spokesman for Hailsham Bonfire Society, said: “This year our membership has dropped to its lowest level since the society was reformed in 2005.

“We currently have fewer than 30 members. The fund raising and preparation for our bonfire celebrations has had to continue otherwise this year’s event would have had to be cancelled.

“Our members have given up nearly every weekend since May to raise the money we require to enable the celebrations on Saturday 19 October to go ahead.”

The bonfire celebration raises much needed funds for charities and in 2012 the society managed to raise £600 for three good causes.

The society reformed in 2005 after it took a break because of a lack of support during the 1980s and 1990s.

Mr Farley continued: “We are a community group representing Hailsham.

“All of our members spend a lot of time perfecting their costumes and we have enormous pride in our annual event keeping it as close to a traditional bonfire celebration as we possibly can.”

Mr Farley said hundreds of people line the streets for the annual event but despite the bonfire’s popularity few people wanted to get involved in the society.

He added: “Very few want to join or offer the society any support.

“The current situation cannot continue.

“Currently we have £1,000 less to spend on fireworks than this time last year and we have no funds going forward for next year’s event despite the support and donations from the (Hailsham) town council and some generous local businesses.”

He said the bonfire society desperately needs new members, helpers and sponsors to stage this year’s celebrations and enable it to continue into 2014.

Anyone who would like to help or would like to join the society can speak to society members tomorrow morning (Saturday September 7) at Tesco, Hailsham, or contact the society secretary on 01323 441514.

A decision on the future of Hailsham Bonfire Society will be made at the society committee meeting in November.