LETTER: Keep negativity out of bonfire

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We would like to take issue with Mr Norton’s letter (October 21).

His letter had a dreadfully negative view of the bonfire, especially when so many people worked so hard to put on the event, unpaid and purely for the joy of taking part.

He was obviously not aware that the reason there were no ‘bangs’ in the procession was due to complaints about the loud noises from Old Town residents after the 2015 bonfire.

Yes, it was a ‘Hastings evening in October’ but no, nobody expects ‘glorious sunshine’ – not much good holding a torchlit procession and fireworks in the sun.

Yes, there was a torrential downpour just as the procession was starting. Did Mr Norton witness the societies trying desperately to light torches in gale force winds and teaming rain?

It was touch and go as to whether the procession would be cancelled, but the massed Sussex Bonfire Societies would never let down all those who had come out to see them, so it went ahead, although the torches could only be properly lit when the procession reached the shelter of the Old Town roads.

Yes, it was disappointing that some of the fireworks could not be set off – water and gunpowder do not mix well – even the protection set up over the pyrotechnics could not cope with the downpour.

Due to the violence of the wind, some fireworks were not lit because of safety concerns.

The fireworks were a little early, but with all the bonfire societies already on the bonfire site, it would have been unfair to all the waiting (cold and drenched) crowds to delay the fireworks even more.

If Mr Norton did not get to the bonfire site in time to see the fireworks, he should have done what everyone else did, follow the last of the procession along the seafront. He would have been in plenty of time.

Mr Norton’s thought that the afternoon fireworks were set off accidentally suggests he had not bought a copy of the Bonfire programme – £1 for charity – where he would have seen that these were a special event for children – especially those who would not be able to stay up late for the main event.

And to even think that the pyrotechnic experts who provide these fireworks could have allowed them to be set off ‘accidentally’ means that Mr Norton has obviously never taken notice of the complete security and control enforced by the teams.

On his comments about the effigy, this was the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings! What would you expect the effigy to be! His suggestions of Southern Rail, Nigel Farage or Donald Trump have little or no connection with Hastings and certainly not the anniversary.

A Norman longboat fit the bill perfectly, so much so that many visitors during the day were horrified to discover that the wonderful effigy was going to be burnt!

And finally, nearly £4,000 was collected on the day, all for local charities. Great work by everyone! This event needs support not negativity.

Perhaps Mr Norton should try to take part and help with the procession next year and appreciate the hard work and love that goes into the Hastings Borough Bonfire Society’s annual celebration of the town and its history, and perhaps moan a bit less!

Andy Ralph and Glenn Hills

Mount Pleasant Road

Hastings

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