HMS Sultan fireworks: Families enjoy a 'special' night of fireworks, funfair rides and a bonfire in Gosport

FIREWORKS, funfair rides and a spectacular bonfire were all part of a ‘special’ evening to boost community spirit in Gosport.

By Fiona Callingham
Friday, 29th October 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 9:04 am

Hundreds of families from across the area made the pilgrimage to HMS Sultan to attend its long-awaited bonfire and fireworks night.

Organised by the navy training site, the annual event – which was postponed last year due to Covid – also signalled 65 years since the base was established.

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The fireworks at HMS Sultan, with pyrotechnicians Selstar Fireworks operating the performance. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)

Speaking on the night Chief Petty Officer Jim Barkshire said: ‘We’ve pushed back the fireworks a bit because it’s been so popular that we wanted to make sure everyone could get in to see them.

‘We want to make sure everyone can enjoy it. It’s a special night because it marks 65 years of HMS Sultan in Gosport but it’s also something to bring the community together after the difficult year we’ve had. We wanted to bring some community spirit back to Gosport. ’

For one family the evening was an extra special chance to celebrate.

Parents Joanne and Kevin Richards from Gosport attended with their five children, including one-year-old Jasmine who underwent heart surgeries in April last year.

Stilt walkers from Ethereal Performance touring the site. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)

They also both caught Covid during the pandemic, along with their 20-year-old daughter Jaime-Lee.

Joanne, 41, said: ‘It’s just great that we can all be here together although it’s still worrying to be in big crowds – but we’re here for the children.’

43-year-old Kevin added: ‘It’s nice that we can have a proper night out as a family.’

Their son Joseph, six, said: ‘I’m excited for all of it tonight.’

Jess Bee, hoop dancer from Ethereal Performance, entertaining the crowds waiting for the fireworks. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)

Hayling Island couple Michael and Claire Green were enjoying the festivities ahead of sailor Michael going on deployment on HMS Forth later this year.

They brought their daughters – five-year-old Scarlett and 10-month-old Sabrina – to see the fireworks.

Michael, 32, said: ‘It is 100 per cent nice to be here with my family. It’s always nice to enjoy my shore time with things like this.

Captain John Voyce (OBE, RN) looks on while Mark Hook (Mayor of Gosport) presses the plunger to light the bonfire. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)

‘I will be missing Sabrina’s first Christmas when I’m away so I want to make the most of my time with them.’

Profits from the event are donated to a mix of local charities as well as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

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Cami Owens (4) and Lexi Owens (2) enjoying the fair while waiting for the fireworks. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
The huge bonfire, celebrating HMS Sultan's 65th anniversary. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
The fireworks at HMS Sultan. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
A full fairground was onsite to entertain visitors. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
Crowds assembled for the fireworks. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
The fireworks at HMS Sultan. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)
The fireworks at HMS Sultan. Picture: Mike Cooter (281021)