Bring back Birdman to revive Bognor Regis say former event organisers

Bring back Birdman to revive Bognor Regis - that is the message from a couple who ran the event for 12 years.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:30 am

Jenny and Barry Jones said even a scaled down event would help after a year spent largely in lockdown and the International Bognor Birdman should be part of the town’s regeneration proposals.

But Sarah Boote-Cook, who has taken over the reins of the International Bognor Birdman, said it was not the time to ask struggling businesses for money and the event would be back in 2022.

“As a Bognor enthusiast all my life, I am anxiously watching the efforts of those that direct people to Bognor after a year in lockdown and a dead miserable life,” said Barry.

A Birdman in action from 2017 pictured by Neil Cooper

“It has been a great shock to myself and my wife to hear that not included in the list of things that could be done to revive Bognor is International Bognor Birdman.”

Barry said the event was internationally supported, bringing in competitors from America, New Zealand and Hungary, amongst others, and hundreds of spectators to Bognor Regis seafront. Whenever he mentioned Bognor in other parts of the UK people knew it for Birdman.

“Bognor is known worldwide for Birdman,” said Barry. “For competitors it’s a chance for them to stay for a week’s holiday in Bognor and it’s a fun day out.

“It’s typical of our British eccentricity.”

Both in their 80s, Barry and Jenny felt they were too old to run the event but said they would be happy to help and advise the committee with the 2022 event.

“I shall use any strength I’ve got to get Birdman on again in Bognor,” said Barry.

Getting the money to run the event was something you had to work at and Barry said being retired helped as they were able to attend council meetings and ask for help, getting ‘£10 here and £20 there’.

“Bognorians, look to start the event again and let us renew our international reputation for wacky, fun events,” Barry said.

Sarah said: “This event costs a lot of money to stage and relies upon businesses to sponsor.

“It was thought that this year, with businesses struggling after Covid restrictions, it would be wholly inappropriate to ask them for money.

“Also as part of the planning the local authority quite rightly are asking for a Covid-19 risk assessment as part of the event management plan.

“The restrictions of social distancing would be the responsibility of the organisers and to achieve this the security/stewards required would be doubled at least, thus making the event even more costly.

“All this taken into account we felt it wiser to wait until 2022 to fly again and we are certainly not the only event that has taken this difficult decision.

“We will return when the time is right for our town and the event itself.”