ORGANISERS of this year’s Sue Ryder bonfire and fireworks display say it was was the best yet.
About 3,000 people filled the grounds of the charity’s hospice in Nettlebed on Saturday evening for the 20th annual display run by the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge.
Despite freezing temperatures, many entered into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up as witches, zombies, pumpkins and ghosts.
The traditional bonfire was lit early in the evening and the Siesta steel band from Earley entertained the visitors who were kept warm with a hog roast, hot dogs and burgers washed down with hot chocolate and mulled wine.
The 25-minute fireworks display was masterminded by Kimbolton of Worcester, who supplied the fireworks for the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations, the Olympics and the Paralympics.
Organiser Nicky Emms said: “It was absolutely fantastic and the best display yet. This was the culmination of months of hard work and organisation by a fantastic Rotary team and Kimbolton did us proud.”
The event raised about £18,000 for the hospice, which cares for people with terminal illnesses and costs £2 million a year to run.
Fund-raiser Emily King said: “It was great to see so much support for the hospice — the grounds seemed to be really busy. The steel band was a nice touch and the fireworks display was amazing.”
The children’s fancy dress competition was judged by Henley Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin with Annie Lathaen, president of the Rotary club, and Elise Hoadley, care services manager at Sue Ryder.
The five and under category was won by “pumpkin” Maddie Ward, five, from Theale, with “ghost” Luca Maroni, five, from Emmer Green, being judged the runner-up.
“Grim reaper” Honnor Bowley, seven, won the six and over category and nine-year-old Dominic Baum, from Emmer Green, was the runner-up with his “gangster zombie” outfit.
Mrs Lathaen said: “It was a wonderful evening despite the heavy rain early on. We are grateful to the public for supporting the event and the hospice. The turnout was brilliant. The fancy dress competition was lovely. The children had done an excellent job and got into their parts.”
Cllr Hodgkin said: “It was a very cold evening but absolutely lovely and very well organised. The fireworks and bonfire were wonderful.
“The children were terrific. One of the most difficult things you have to do as mayor is choose which child is dressed the best when all the parents are watching.”