‘It is time to bring back our community bonfire’

DETERMINED: Some of the people raising money to put on the Thornes Park bonfire and fireworks display after it was axed last year.
DETERMINED: Some of the people raising money to put on the Thornes Park bonfire and fireworks display after it was axed last year.
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The Express is supporting a new fundraising campaign to bring back the Thornes Park bonfire and fireworks display.

The long-standing celebration, which attracts tens of thousands of people, was axed in a cost-cutting move by cash-strapped Wakefield Council last year.

Now, the Friends of Clarence, Holmfield and Thornes parks (CHaTs) have teamed up with Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, local councillors and Melvyn Eddy Funfairs to put the event back at the heart of the city’s calendar. And we are getting behind their fundraising drive to send this year’s Guy Fawkes night out with a bang.

CHaTs chairman Ian Deighton said: “There was so much disappointment when the event was cancelled last year. It was the only large organised event within the city and people just had nowhere to go.

“We are hoping that as many people and businesses as possible get behind the campaign so that we can make it happen again for Wakefield.”

The council said it would look at working with CHaTs and partners on the event, if enough money was raised to pay for it.

Coun Les Shaw, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport said: “We value the commitment and dedication of the Friends of CHaT to the park.

“Unfortunately the government cuts have left us unable to fund this event but if the campaign is a success we will be happy to look at how we can work together.”

Mr Deighton said the group had already been working hard to obtain sponsorship and secure voluntary help for some elements of the event. But he said a further £8k was needed to put on a “safe and enjoyable” night.

Melvyn Eddy said: “My family have supported this event for generations and I want to continue the tradition started by the Wakefield Express and my grandfather many years ago. We are prepared to do all we can to save the bonfire.”

Ms Creagh added: “The annual bonfire and fireworks show is a highlight in Wakefield’s calendar, bringing together thousands of local residents.”

We are calling on local businesses and the community to get behind the event.

Organisations are urged to come forward if they can offer donations, sponsorship or their services.

Individuals are also invited to pledge their support.

Anyone interested can contact Mr Deighton on 01924 314222 or email info@chatparks.org.uk