Battle gets ready for bonfire fun

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AFTER 12 months of blood, sweat and fundraising, it’s finally time for Battle Bonfire 2011.

Around 15,000 people are expected in the town centre on Saturday night to witness the annual festivities, courtesy of the Battel Bonfire Boyes.

Attendance is expected to be down on last year as the event clashes with the world-famous bonfire celebrations over at Lewes.

The clash will also mean the procession is shorter than normal, but Battel Bonfire Boyes spokesperson Matt Southam says all the local groups will be there.

He said: “Obviously we won’t have the Lewes societies, but we do expect support from the local ones, like Hastings and Rye.

“We will have a reasonable procession, but won’t have the five or six Lewes societies.”

The Boyes have spent all year raising funds to stage the bonfire extravaganza, which will cost around £18,000.

The cost has jumped slightly this year, partially due to a lack of volunteer marshals, so the Boyes have had to pay around 25 private security guards to help out on the night.

There will be a collection on the night, with every penny raised to go to local charities and good causes, and Matt is encouraging everyone to give generously.

He said: “This year the cost of putting on the bonfire has risen to about £18,000 so we think if you are attending an event which costs that figure, it’s only right to put a bit into the collecting tin.

“With 15,000 people attending, we should raise more than we normally do.”

The day kicks off at 10am, when the Guy arrives on the Abbey Green and Battel Bonfire Boyes open their merchandise stall.

Road closures will come into force at 6pm, ready for the procession, which sets off at 7.45pm.

Then it is time for everyone to head to the battlefield for the grand fireworks finale at around 9.30pm.

Access for the public to the site is via Powdermill Lane and everyone is asked to move in to the field and not block the entrance.

The firework display will not start until everyone is in the field.

Bonfire revellers will also get the chance to see the effigy go up in smoke.

Work started on this year’s creation at the end of September, but there was no sneak preview available this year as the Boyes are still hard at work making sure it will be ready on time.

Matt told the Observer: “It will be ready, but I have a feeling we will still be painting it on Friday!”

But he would not be drawn on the topic of this year’s effigy, saying: “I think I will keep it a secret until the big day.”

n The official bonfire programme is available from all good retailers in Battle, or on the day from the Abbey Green from 10am, priced £1.

To keep up to date with the bonfire preparations, log on to Twitter and follow @battlebonfire or visit www.battelbonfire.co.uk.