Littlehampton Bonfire: ‘anonymous donation’ means part of the event will now be happening this year

Littlehampton bonfire night 2018. Geraldine Butler, left and Lyn Baker. Photo by Derek Martin Photography
Littlehampton bonfire night 2018. Geraldine Butler, left and Lyn Baker. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

An ‘anonymous donation’ from a good Samaritan means that part of the Littlehampton Bonfire celebrations will be taking place this year.

The Littlehampton Bonfire Society voted to cancel this year’s event on October 26 at a meeting on Tuesday, September 10, on safety grounds and a lack of volunteers.

The Littlehampton Bonfire Society volunteers ahead of the 2017 celebrations

The Littlehampton Bonfire Society volunteers ahead of the 2017 celebrations

There were also lower numbers of entries into the parade and for charity collectors.

Since the announcement was made, volunteers have come forward for 2020.

And on Monday, Susan Baker said that Bill Coles funfair would still be on the promenade on October 26, and a ‘very generous, anonymous friend of the bonfire society has come forward and paid for the firework display’.

Bill Coles agreed that a collection could take place during the display for the Bonfire Society to offset the costs of cancelling the event.

At the time the cancellation announcement was made, Susan Baker, the society’s press relations officer, said: “This decision was not taken lightly. Everyone on the committee was filled with sadness at this decision.

“We have all worked extremely hard to work towards this year’s bonfire night. And let me be clear, we all hope that next year we will be back as strong as ever.”

Tyndall Jones has been collecting for the event for 44 years, and has been on the committee for 20 years.

He was ‘absolutely heartbroken’ by the decision, adding the last three years had been the most challenging during his time with the society.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “We have been accused of ‘crying wolf’ over the years about volunteers but we weren’t.

“It is an awful lot of work; we finished making torches for this year’s event last Sunday.

“It is a challenge to come back, but we will do our darndest.”

This comes as Arun Yacht Club also offered to put on a fireworks display in the wake of the Littlehampton Bonfire being cancelled.

On Friday, before the society announced the fireworks had been saved by an anonymous donation, Jonathan Penberthy from the club said they had decided to put on a display at their clubhouse in Rope Walk which the public could watch from across the river.

The 41-year-old from Wick said: “I have always taken my daughter to the bonfire, and the fireworks are a fixture of Littlehampton. I completely feel for [the society] because it is difficult these days to get people to volunteer.

“So we thought the least we can do is put on some firworks.”

Among the hundreds who reacted to the news was Arun District Council leader James Walsh, who described it as ‘very upsetting for a large number of people’ and pledged that Arun and the town council would do ‘everything it could’ to support the bonfire event.

If you can volunteer for the 2020 celebrations, email littlehamptonbonfiresociety @hotmail.co.uk.