Phoenix rises to the occasion in Lewes

Cheque this out: It was a grand night when Phoenix shared �1,000 between three worthy causes.
Cheque this out: It was a grand night when Phoenix shared �1,000 between three worthy causes.

Friday January 24 proved a proud night for the most recent addition to the Bonfire Night scene in Sussex.

Phoenix staged a presentation evening, giving away a total of £1,000 to three worthy causes.

It is a small group of people who got together in the summer of 2011 with the intention of walking in the processions during the Bonfire season.

Members had noted that spectators tended to give more generously to the collectors when the costumes are particularly striking.

So the Phoenix aim from the start was only the best of costumes. The policy has paid off – with the group being voted the ‘Best Dressed Visiting Society’ for each of the three years of its existence.

Their outfits are unique, being described as a type of ‘Baroque’, a patchwork of glitzy materials worn with eye-catching masks and wigs.

Phoenix raises money for charity by winning the fancy dress competitions at the outlying Bonfire celebrations across the county, and members also hold raffles at their regular get-togethers.

Friday’s presentation evening at St Mary’s Supporters’ Club saw £400 given to St Peter and St James Hospice at Chailey, and £400 to The House of Friendship in Lewes which will be used to buy kitchen equipment.

A further £200 was given to Littlehampton Bonfire Society to help funding following the disappointing cancellation of the town’s celebrations last year because of the disastrous weather conditions.

In the past, Phoenix has been at pains to point out that it is not a Bonfire society. It acknowledges that Lewes is just not big enough to accommodate an eighth society and there were no plans to become one. It would remain simply Phoenix.

Members describe themselves as a group of friends and relatives who enjoy the Bonfire season and support the societies of Sussex on their individual nights of celebration.

By dressing up and walking – and collecting for those societies outside Lewes – at these events the Phoenix aim is to help them raise money for their various charities by adding colour and spectacle to the occasions.