A COMMUNITY group has assembled to secure the future of a much-loved firework display.
Established this month, Friends of Stockheath Common Fireworks was created in a bid to raise cash to save Leigh Park’s free annual display for generations to come.
The fixture – which attracts thousands of spectators each year – is currently organised and run by Havant Borough Council, but after its 2017 outing on Sunday its future will rest in the hands of the community.
Craig Cockram, 50, has been involved in lighting the fireworks at the event for 20 years.
Now, he has stepped up to take on the role of chairman for the newly-established collective Friends of Stockheath Common Fireworks.
As he and a team of six others embarks on a fundraising effort to keep the display alive, he said: ‘Myself and the council agreed the best thing to do would be to raise the money as a community.
‘When it returns on Sunday night, we’ll be going round with buckets to start trying to collect as much cash as we can to hold the event again in 2018 – the baseline cost of this is £6,500.
‘We are also in the process of approaching local businesses for financial help, with an ultimate goal of raising enough to always have the money in the kitty to put on the display for another year in advance.
‘It’s a lot of money, and of course it will be hard, but I believe we can achieve this as a community.’
Offering the council’s backing, councillor Leah Turner, cabinet lead for communities and housing, said: ‘We are looking forward to supporting the newly-formed Friends of Stockheath Common Fireworks community group who are hoping to take the event forward in future years.’
Speaking ahead of the free display’s return to Stockheath Common, at 7.30pm on Sunday, November 5, cllr Turner added: ‘To ensure the event is safe for all we would like to remind anyone who will be attending not to bring their own fireworks and that this is a no alcohol event.’
Stockheath Lane and Alresford Road will be closed to traffic from 4pm on Sunday to enable the display to be set up, with Riders Lane closing at 5pm.
Visitors can access free parking for the event at the Havant Borough Council car park at Greywell Shopping Centre, Greywell Road, from 6pm.
To donate to the Friends of Stockheath Common Fireworks group, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/friendsofstockheathcommonfireworks.