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Fireworks could end

ANXIOUS Scout leaders in Pagham are facing up to threat of their biggest fundraising event going up in smoke.

 

This weekend’s firework night could be the last to be held by Aldwick and Pagham Sea Scouts.

 

The Scouts are set to see their current site off Sefter Road swallowed up by a housing estate developed by Taylor Wimpey.

 

When that happens, and the timing is still uncertain, it will be end of the pyrotechnic celebration.

 

Firework expert Paul Goodland is one of the Group Scout Leaders. He said: “We might get next year’s firework display as well but we just don’t know. This Saturday’s could well be the last. “We usually get about 1,000 people through the gates. It’s a big community event. “The night raises 50 per cent of our fundraising for the whole year.

 

“That’s about £4,000 from one night. If we lose that, it is going to be a big blow.”

 

The Scouts have held the night at their semi-rural site for some 20 years. Paul has been in charge for 12 years and the display has always happened whatever the weather.

 

It will start at 6pm this Saturday and includes a range of entertainment, plus a barbecue, which peaks with a 20 minute display of rockets, bangers and Catherine wheels to dazzle the watching crowd of all ages. Entry prices have been kept at £3 adults, £1 children and £7 families (two adults and two children) to encourage as many people as possible to go along.

 

“Ours is the only public display in Pagham,” said Paul. “It has grown bigger in the past few years. “People know it’s going to be a big show and they come along.

 

That enables us to buy more fireworks and that means we can put an even bigger show.”

 

The community nature of the evening is shown by the fact Barclays employees help on the barbecue and its profits are matched by the bank up to £1,000.

 

Barfoots loans a trailer on the night from its nearby farm and Paul’s employer provides the fireworks at cost price and pays for the insurance cover.

 

“All this, helps us to raise so much money,” he said. “Without firework night, we will have to take action to protect our funds. This could mean putting up our fees, which we don’t want to do.

 

“We get £45 a year for each of our members for their 36 weeks with us. That makes inclusive to everyone. Scouting accepts anyone from any background and we want that to continue.”

 

Putting up the annual fees would be a backward step, he added. The attraction of Scouting can be seen by the weekly attendance of 100 in the group’s Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers.

 

The group is so popular it has a waiting list for Beavers which stretches into 2018.

 

“We know our hut is rundown and we don’t have a lot of room at the moment,” added Paul, “but we have not wanted to spend any money on it while our future is so uncertain.”

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