Monday, 20 September 2021

Sue Ryder fireworks saved

THE annual fireworks display at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed will go ahead as normal this year.

THE annual fireworks display at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed will go ahead as normal this year.

The future of the event had been in doubt since the previous organisers, the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge, pulled out after last year’s display, saying the event was too big for its volunteers to handle.

Now Sue Ryder has announced that it will run this year’s Halloween night display at Joyce Grove on Saturday, October 31.

The Rotary club will provide advice and members will run the beer tent and organise the children’s fancy dress competition as usual.

Moira Logie, senior fund-raiser, said: “We are delighted that this well-loved local event will continue to run with the support of the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge.

“They have been remarkable fund-raisers for us over the past 22 years and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.” Thousands of people attend the display and there were almost 150 volunteers on duty last year when a record £20,000 was raised for Sue Ryder.

Club president Alan Dawe said he was pleased the event would remain at the hospice, adding: “It’s great because it’s a very popular event and great for families.

“We have some members who help out separately from Rotary who are volunteers there so we have had a long connection and it’s great that it will continue.” Mr Dawe said Rotarian Nicky Emms had been liaising with the charity to provide guidance on running the event.

He said: “Her main role was to act as a consultant, to point out to them what has to be done, what’s involved and the number of volunteers you need and that sort of thing.

“We can offer some support but we have said that as far as the organising and getting people together and setting it up we wouldn’t take that on.”

When the club took the decision to stand down as organisers, Mr Dawe said: “When our club started this event over 20 years ago it was very small and well within our capabilities but it has grown considerably over the years to attract over 2,000 people.

“We are now the victims of our own success in that the large attendance has become difficult to manage in terms of car parking and crowd management. This has led to concerns about health and safety and the feeling that an event of this size should be run by professionals.

“It was the club’s decision. It was extensively discussed by members, some who have been doing it for many years, and I think they were probably beginning to feel the strain a bit.

“Some of our members are not as young as they were, shall we say, so can’t do quite as much as they used to.”

Members of Henley Rotary Club and Reading Abbey Rotary Club will also help out again this year by running stalls.

The hospice is looking for community groups or individuals who would like to help either on the night or through volunteering or sponsorship.

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