Friday, 22 February 2019

Fireworks are lovely to look at but I never really liked the loud bangs

Fireworks are lovely to look at but I never really liked the loud bangs

A WOMAN has called for fireworks organisers to use quiet displays to protect animals and vulnerable people.

Jane Foddy says the loud bangs made by some fireworks are distressing to animals as well as young children and some war

She wants organisers of displays to use quieter fireworks, which do not produce the loud bangs usually heard around Bonfire Night.

Mrs Foddy, a PR consultant, lives in Loddon Drive, Wargrave, with her husband John, a property consultant, and their three-year-old Irish soft-coated wheaten terrier Teddy.

The couple moved to the village from London in 2011 and Mrs Foddy says she began to realise the effect of fireworks on animals when they got Teddy.

She said: “I think fireworks are lovely to look at and I always liked them but never really liked the loud bangs.

“In London you are not as aware of animals. There aren’t so many pets and no farm animals of course.

“When we moved to Wargrave we got to know people who have farms or keep horses and a lot of people have dogs.

“We became more aware that they were being disturbed by fireworks.

“In the area where we live there is a lot of firework activity.

“These days you get fireworks going off all-year round because people are using them for weddings and birthdays. It’s quite unpredictable.

“When we got a dog we saw how she reacted and it was really upsetting.

“If she was outside she would run away and hide, not necessarily in the house because she didn’t know where the noise was coming from.

“The first time she did it she was a young puppy and we couldn’t find her for two or three hours. We didn’t know if she had gone for good. She reappeared outside the house.

“If she’s inside she cowers and pants — she doesn’t make any noise but she’s a quivering wreck.

“We have tried to draw the curtains and turn the TV volume up if we know it’s going to happen but if you don’t know it’s too late.

“A dog’s hearing is amazing so Teddy can still hear them and get stressed.

“Think how many other animals are reacting like that in this area. Farm animals and pets you can do something about but you can’t help wildlife.”

After carrying out some research, Mrs Foddy discovered that most fireworks suppliers offer “quiet displays”, which avoid loud bangs, screeches or whistles and are more focused on the colours and effects.

They are available from most suppliers and are already used by some local display organisers.

These include Camp Mohawk, a day centre for children with special needs near Wargrave, which holds a quiet show the day after its traditional fireworks night display.

Mrs Foddy said: “I became aware of quiet fireworks when I read about an Italian town that had banned loud fireworks altogether. It would be great if we could also have a by-law to ban the noisy ones. Henley would be the first town in the UK to do it and it would be great for our reputation.

“I’m trying to get the people who organise displays to choose quiet fireworks. It makes them look caring and compassionate. It’s very positive and can be a feather in their cap.

“I did some research and spoke to local fireworks suppliers and they all seem to do quiet fireworks which are no more expensive and don’t look any different. They are no less spectacular, so it’s a win-win.

“I’ve seen displays with music to accompany the fireworks so you don’t need to have loud bangs, you could have rock or classical music to add to the atmosphere.

“It’s almost antisocial behaviour to cause these loud bangs, so maybe we can encourage people not to do it by making them aware that you can get quiet fireworks.

“If you look on some suppliers’ websites they don’t necessarily promote them but when you call them and ask they say of course they have them.”

Mrs Foddy had a letter on the issue published in the Henley Standard in November last year and says she received many replies pointing out that loud fireworks can be distressing for people as well as animals.

She said: “I hadn’t thought about the human aspect but I had people saying their children were woken up at night and scared by the loud bangs. Then there are the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder issues.

“I couldn’t find anything in the British press but there was a lot in the US about it for July 4 [Independence Day], so then I realised this is a much bigger issue, adversely affecting people too.

“If people realised the trauma fireworks cause when you can get quiet ones it might do the trick.

“Sound travels and there’s a lot of loud bangs around November time.

“Public displays are staggered so people can go to more than one.

“I can understand from a commercial standpoint why they would be but it does mean more noisy nights.”

Mrs Foddy says some of the current rules on buying and selling fireworks are not strong enough and she would like to see new legislation governing the types of fireworks available and when they are used.

She said: “Shops selling fireworks have various measures but they are a bit weak.

“Having a curfew on fireworks is ludicrous because I hear them going off after the curfew.

“You don’t know where they are coming from so you can’t report them and even if you do it’s likely to be the next day and you can’t prove it.

“Shops are only allowed to sell fireworks at certain times of the year but that doesn’t mean people can’t buy them to use at other times.

“If retailers wanted to sell them outside of those times they would need a licence from the local authority so the authority has the power to say they should be quiet ones.

“It would be wonderful if we had new legislation that bans the noisy ones altogether.

“I do wonder if the people with the power to make these kinds of changes are aware of the alternatives.”

Mrs Foddy says she doesn’t want fireworks to be banned altogether and enjoys going to displays herself but a small change to the way they are used could make a big difference.

She said: “I’m not anti-fireworks — I like them — but having moved out of London to a rural community with animals, wildlife and my own dog it brings it home to me.

“Even if you know when it’s happening it doesn’t help, you can’t tell an animal when it’s going to be.

“If people are going to have fireworks maybe choose quiet ones or go to an organised display instead. It wouldn’t be spoiling everyone’s fun if just the very noisy ones were banned.

“We might be surprised at how many people would go along with that.

“If you see an animal so distressed it’s horrible, so if you can still look at something beautiful without causing that distress why wouldn’t you?”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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