LAST NIGHT THE BARCOMBE BONFIRE SOCIETY COMMITTEE MADE THE DECISION THAT THIS YEAR’S EVENT WOULD BE BY INVITE ONLY AND “BRING YOUR OWN TORCHES” WOULD BE THE ORDER OF THE DAY FOR THOSE THAT DO ATTEND.
Committee member Charlie made the following statement on the Sussex Bonfire Forum:
“Just to clarify all the rumours surrounding Barcombe this year, our celebrations WILL take place on the 19th November as usual, however; our event will unfortunately be scaled down. This is due to us having to operate at a budget of over £2000 less than required. A further blow was the cancellation of our big fundraising event of the autumn: our autumn ball due to lack of support and failing to even break even.
We had a vote at our public committee meeting on the 12th September as to cancel this year’s event or go ahead with a smaller budget. The motion carried that we go ahead as we felt cancelling the event would make it very hard to get off the ground again for 2012.
As a result we are having a smaller firework display and a shorter procession.
We stress that this year Barcombe is strictly INVITE ONLY [for visiting societies]. If you are not invited please do not turn up as you will not be torched up or permitted to partake in the procession.
Societies that are invited are kindly requested to bring as many torches as they can for themselves and also due to our committee now standing at a lowly seven or so dedicated people we require much help with marshalling as we only just managed last year. A request to the Bonfire Council will be made for this.
We apologise unreservedly for this situation as we are aware many societies enjoy Barcombe to end the season but we do not have the financial support or the manpower to put on the grand spectacle that is normally expected with no clear way of gaining the extra money in the short amount of time set.”
While rumours of problems at Barcombe have been circulating for some time, it is, nevertheless, quite a surprise for this statement so soon after the demise of Burgess Hill’s procession, which has been cancelled for “manpower and support” reasons, in the last few weeks.
This needs to serve as a wakeup call to those involved in Sussex Bonfire that you cannot just pay your £5/10/15 to join a society, get granny to knit you a guernsey and expect to be able to roll up at the village pub, twenty minutes before the start of the procession, and have a jolly good laugh for a couple of hours, before going home and waking up gritty eyed and black bogeyed the next morning.
I know we all have pressures on our time, but bonfire doesn’t “just happen”. Organising 500-1000 men, women and children with sticks of fire for three miles takes enough doing, then there are the “services” – fire, police, first aid, refreshments, placing and organising the filling of water butts, the building of the bonfire, fencing on the fire site, clearing up. And that’s just on the night….. making the torches is a time consuming process, collecting the kerosene, dipping the torches….. this all takes time, as does preparing tableaux, fire banners, other set pieces. Oh, and then there is the fund raising, the pub quizzes, the standing under a gazebo which is trying to blow away as a July squall hits the summer fete…… Did I forget to mention the legal side? Organising and paying for insurance, making sure road closure orders are obtained, making sure there is parking, keeping the local farmers on side, organising the fire site location and arrangements.
I’m sure that Barcombe will have a great evening and I hope I’m not restricted to standing in the crowd. What is good is that the cry for help has gone out, maybe a bit late, but it’s gone out. This is something which didn’t happen with Burgess Hill – most of us found out via Facebook and Twitter that the event had been cancelled, and this was the first we knew of any problems. Whilst I understand that there may have been other forces at work, internally, leading to the cancellation of that event, it’s always better to ask for help before you are forced to cancel.
Well done to the Barcombe Committee for doing this, I hope that you get the support that you need to put on a great night, as it always is, and come back bigger and better than ever in 2012.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN HELPING THERE WILL BE AN EGM IN THE ROYAL OAK ROOM, BARCOMBE ON 26th SEPTEMBER 2011 AT 8PM.