A kaleidoscope of spectacular colour lit up the night sky of Long Wittenham as the village celebrated its seventh annual bonfire night in Ward’s Field.
A huge bonfire with its bright, curly orange flames leaping high into the star-studded sky radiated a cosy glow to help keep warm more than 400 spectators.
Fears of a wash-out from torrential rain and high winds earlier in the day proved groundless as the skies cleared and the wind dropped on cue for the event which raised more than £1,000.
Emma Newman, one of the main organisers of the Wittenham Warriors-run night on November 7 said: ”It was a huge success and our thanks go to the village and our local school community for supporting the night and our team which worked so hard. But what really makes it is the team spirit, the community feel and the atmosphere on the night.”
The majority of tickets were sold in advance from Long Wittenham School and Clifton Hampden Post Office with further gates sales made on the night. A profit of more than £1,400 was generated which will go to local causes.
The Guy Fawkes competition sponsored by the Plough Inn was won by the Crosskey family from the High Street with their phoenix dragon called Sparky taking pride of place at the top of the bonfire.
Sparky was the creation of the whole family. Adam (Dad) made the skeleton from some left-over wood and Robert (aged four) helped to nail the covering on. Seven-years-old Edward helped with filling the belly of the beast, painting and finishing touches, and sister Anna (11) made the scary eyes. Anna also managed the project and mum Evelyn was roped in to do the tricky sewing bits.
Runners up with the Minion effigy were Millie Green and Jaimie-Leigh Orme from Berinsfield. Millie attends Long Wittenham School and Jamie-Leigh goes to Clifton Hampden School.
A total of eight guys were entered into the completion and although two were stolen from where they were displayed on the school railings in the lead up to the event, they remained key entrants in the competition. The incident attracted press coverage and the children demonstrated real maturity in response to the theft.
Judging the guys were the Rev Anne Ilsley, who was attending one of her last functions in the village before retiring. Helping her were last year’s winners Georgie and Lewis Newman. The competition was organised by Victoria Mellor and Louisa Jackson.
Other key players in the event were Sarah Bowden who helped with the planning and overall organisation and the Wittenham Warriors team. The Long Wittenham School Association ran the sweet treats stall and the village women’s cricket team organised the barbeque. Antonia Cotton was joined by a team of villagers who ran the drinks bar and Georgie Newman sold glow items.
Explorer Scouts helped on the day and were in the forefront of the big clear-up. Thanks also went to all who helped collect wood – provided by local villagers, the Earth Trust, Bill Symonds and Gary Carberry – and Sean Newman supported by a team of villagers who helped build and successfully light the bonfire on the night.
CamoSkips provided a courtesy skip, Wildwood Didcot provided the candyfloss machine, the Mellors and the Green family provided electricity supply which was set up by Matt Clamp, and use of their homes during the day. The Parochial Church Council gave permission for use of Ward’s Field. Sally Duff, Anny Greenland and Sara Cooke staffed the main entrance and there was a team of marshalls. Parking was provided by Long Wittenham School and Pendon Museum.
The parish council funded this year’s insurance (£450) and underwrote the event should it have been a washout. The Hemmery’s provided hay for the track, Dave Whenmouth and Pete Wilson provided the fencing – and a team of volunteers helped make the event such a success.
The event is to be included in a scrapbook of Wittenham events for 2015 being compiled by the History Group and WI. It follows on from scrapbooks published in 1965 and 1985.