Bonfire Organisers Sought

After five years heading Long Wittenham’s annual bonfire night organisation, two key players have decided to step down.  Now the search for replacements is underway for next year’s event which will be the eleventh.

Emma Newman and Sarah Bowden are relinquishing their posts.  Mrs Newman said that after much thought she had decided that this year would be her last in the role as main organiser of the event which has grown in popularity raising money for local charities.

Last year the bonfire night event raised more than £2,000 – £1,000 up on the previous year – and £700 went towards the new play equipment in Bodkin’s Field.  Over the last four years the event has raised £6,500.  The parish council contributes by funding the advance costs of the display (which is later refunded) and pays the annual insurance premium.

Profit beneficiaries over the years have included the Scouts, the Pre-School, the Primary School and School Association to help fund school trips, the PCC and Pendon Museum.  The Stroke Association also benefitted in memory of friend and supporter, Laura Marshall, and the League of Friends at Oxford Hospital.

Mrs Newman said: “As much as I really love running the event this will be my fifth year and it’s time to hand over the role to someone new.  It takes a lot of time in the Autumn which has become my busiest time of the year workwise which has added to the challenge.”

Most of the job is emailing and phoning people, drumming up support as well as the sales, advertising and accounts, in which Mrs Bowden has taken a leading role.  She has also decided to step down but will be available to answer questions to whoever takes over the finances.

Mrs Newman added: “I would like to say a big thank you to the parish council and especially to councillors Steve Brown and Sally Duff who have been supportive in providing advice, help and financial support.  And to my husband Sean who has been instrumental in the bonfire building and helping with many of the more physical things on the day.”

“I have no doubt there is an enthusiastic villager or local group out there who would love the chance to make this event their own in 2019.  I would be very pleased if any new volunteers wanted to shadow the event this year to help them get started.”

Parish council chairman Gordon Rogers praised the work of Mrs Newman, Mrs Bowden and the Wittenham Warriors team for their work over the last five years and added: “They have been an invaluable asset is supporting village projects and establishing what has become a leading event in the Winter social calendar.”

“We hope others will step forward to continue the good work especially as Mrs Newman has volunteered to help the transition, and that the new organisers will take up her shadowing offer.”

For more details contact Emma Newman on 01865 407287 or 07765 676765 or email:

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