Bonfire and torchlight processions are a strong and long-standing tradition in East Sussex steeped in history. Nearly forty communities, large and small, celebrate annually in the autumn season. Remembrance of the infamous gunpowder plot is at the root of the tradition, but it has developed into something broader and in many instances has become the one occasion when communities come together each year. The tradition also is for Societies to join in the celebrations of other communities in the county over a season of several weeks bringing together local communities and neighbouring towns.
In our county town of Lewes there is also a strong connection to the burning of the Lewes martyrs, two of whom came from Heathfield. There are seven events in Lewes, six on the same night, which has become a major occasion. The processions are very inclusive and typically involve other bonfire societies, individuals, families and local organisations such as youth groups, schools, businesses, the Royal British Legion and so on. The emphasis is on fun and enjoyment for everyone. It seems surprising that Heathfield, one of the larger communities of the county, does not celebrate the bonfire season.
The Heathfield & District Bonfire Society (HDBS) has been formed by a group of local enthusiastic people who would like to enhance the sense of community in Heathfield and it's surrounding area where there is a current lack by holding the traditional celebration of bonfire and torchlight procession in their town and joining in the annual season of events. Heathfield did once have a bonfire society until it dispersed in the 1950s. The re-igniting of this society is most importantly to bring the community together but also to bring life back into this lost tradition in our local town and to fill everyone's hearts with a sense of pride when representing Heathfield in this annual season of events.
There are many potential difficulties; the Society does not underestimate these and recognises that it will need widespread support to achieve its aims. We have gained support from our local parish council and in the last 6 months we have also enrolled nearly 50 members. The parish council, local supporters, other bonfire societies and our members have all helped us to get to the point where we are now processing at other counties bonfire events, holding our banner high and representing Heathfield at these events. We now aim to put on our own bonfire event in 2019 and this is where we need your help. Please help us make this happen, every little will help towards our event costs!
We have been working hard to organise fundraising events such as quiz nights, music/dance nights, tombola stalls, etc to help fund our own event. These fundraising events, as well as building our publicity, are also bringing the community and our newly formed local bonfire community together. We need more funds to make this happen though. We are a non-profit organisation so whilst running such an event will involve considerable costs (not least from insurance costs) and money raised will go first to meeting those costs, we hope that we shall eventually generate a surplus, which will go back into the community and will be donated to local organisations, charities and causes. Please help us bring our community together, re-igniting our community and the tradition of bonfire in Heathfield!