‘Jolly’ Roger sails on but Pirate Day set to continue

Roger Crouch at last year's Pirate Day event. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography
Roger Crouch at last year's Pirate Day event. Picture by Tony Coombes Photography

SHIVER me timbers! The man behind the hugely popular Pirate Day festivities is leaving, sailing on to pastures new.

‘Jolly’ Roger Crouch, organiser of the event, has decided to step down.

But don’t worry, me hearties, as the Old Town Traders are taking up the helm in putting together this year’s Pirate Day, which is on Sunday, July 20.

Roger, who has been at the forefront of the annual festivities since their inception in 2009, told the Observer this week it was time to ‘move on’ and wished the new organisers every success.

He said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to John Hough from Priory Meadow shopping centre, town centre management, Hastings Borough Council, the emergency services, Hastings Borough Bonfire Society, the RNLI and the public, as well as all the other organisations and individuals who have supported Pirate Day.”

Pirate Day started in 2009 when Roger was invited by Jackie Pratt, from Penbuckles in High Street to a meeting of the High Street traders on deciding on ideas for the Friday of Old Town Week.

Roger said: “I came forward with the idea and organised a procession, treasure hunt for children, as well as stunt fighting. Because of the event’s success I decided to go for the world record in 2010 of having the most number of pirates in one place. Since that day in 2010 Pirate Day has become a town-wide event with Priory Meadow the main sponsor.”

In August 2010, 6,166 pirates smashed the then world record by gathering on Pelham Beach. In June 2011, pesky pirates from Penzance took Hastings’ crown, packing in 8,734 people dressed as privateers, sea dogs and buccaneers on its prom.

However Hastings took back the world record in July 2012, when 14,231 pirates gathered on the beach.

Nicola Parker, Roger’s faithful assistant, has helped him organise Pirate Day from the start. She said: “I can honestly say it has been a fantastic roller-coaster ride. The support from the town has been amazing and I’ve loved being involved in this event, changing it every year, to keep everyone on their toes.”

Roger said: “One of my proudest days was bringing the Red Arrows back to Hastings in 2012 after almost 25 years, thanks to John at Priory Meadow. An estimated 85,000 people watched them.

“I am very proud to have led the town in two world records and wish the Old Town Traders, who are organising it with a new format of Hastings Old Town Pirates Family Fun Day, the very best for a successful event.”