I AM very pleased to know that the
popular annual winter Battle of Nantwich will live to be fought
another day. There was, it seemed, a danger that the January event
would have to be cancelled because the Secretary, along with other
officials and committee members, were standing down from organising
the re-enactment of the Civil War fight.
The Nantwich Chronicle was able to report the following
week that people had come forward to help the Holly Holy Day Society
committee members who were staying on.
And the new Secretary, Sean
Cafferty, has underlined the fact with the following report about
the 2009. He tells me:
"Holly Holy Day is
definitely going ahead next January 24th, although not all the
details have been finalised yet.
"The role of the Holly Holy Day Society, as I see it, is to ensure
that we are able to mount a viable and enjoyable celebration of
Holly Holy Day not just next year, but every year. To this end, we
have tried to grow the numbers involved with the project, and have
managed to find a few people willing to take on the excellent work
provided by Melvyn (Reynolds; retiring Secretary) and his
associates in the years gone by.
A scene from the Big Battle of
Nantwich at Reaseheath in August 2007
"The most important aspect
is funding, where we want to see the event less financially
dependent on gate receipts, etc, from the day itself, which can be
vulnerable to weather conditions. So we have an objective to raise
not only sufficient funds to stage the event, but also to build a
healthy reserve so that we could withstand at least one disastrous
year without it threatening the future of the whole tradition.
"I would like to see us get
to the point where the gate money is a bonus rather than a financial
"Our new MP, Edward Timpson
(right), has agreed to become the Patron of the Society to assist
with raising our profile.
"Nantwich Town Council has
agreed to partially underwrite the event for 2009, which has given
us the confidence to press ahead for at least this year, though we
hope not to have to draw upon that offer. We are also actively
pursuing grant monies from various sources including the local
"We will shortly be
launching two fundraising initiatives - one aimed at local
businesses and another at citizens and their families.
"If we can
find 50 local companies who would pledge just £100 each per annum
(in return for favourable publicity, etc), the future of the event
would be pretty much secured.
"We are also looking for
wider community "We
are also looking for wider community
"We are also looking for
wider community involvement through a 'Friends of Holly Holy Day' arrangement which
would enable local people and their families to contribute in
exchange for a closer involvement with the event, e.g. newsletters,
preferential ticket arrangements, etc.
"We are also in
negotiations with one of the local Rotary Clubs which is a very
exciting development. They share my belief that the event is
important for our community and have been keen to offer support in a
way which is consistent with their ethos and principles.
result in a
larger event put on jointly by HHDS and Rotary which would be
capable of raising more money and more easily attracting sponsorship
without significantly increasing costs.
"The goal over the long
term will be to provide HHDS with long-term financial security as
noted above, and to generate an excess which can be provided to
charity. This is progressing very well and I am hopeful that we can
make a positive announcement very shortly.
"The Sealed Knot, who provide the soldiers and put on the battle
reconstruction itself, could not have been more supportive, either.
"I have been very encouraged by
the support and goodwill from the Nantwich community and the
generosity of the local press in promoting our cause, but of course
we need to translate this into something more meaningful.
"However, the task looks
less daunting than it once did and I am very pleased that people
have stepped forward to offer their time, experience and skills to
keep this tradition alive.
"Events like Holly
Holy Day are one of the things that makes Nantwich
such a special place to live. Having moved away and come back again
I find it much easier to appreciate the special qualities that
Nantwich has to offer. Community and a sense of continuity are part
of that, which is where Holly Holy Day fits in.
"So things are looking up, but in Civil War terms we have probably
won a skirmish rather than a battle, and certainly not the war!"
is the son of the (then) current Nantwich Town Council Chairman, Keith
Cafferty, who has himself made a mark on the Nantwich entertainment
"industry" being the driving force behind the newly-established St
George's Day celebrations and Nantwich Fun Day. In the Town
Council's quarterly newsletter, "Talk of the Town" (Summer 2008), Cllr Cafferty reported that the battle re-enactment was "threatened
with extinction." And he appealed for "five or six" committee
members to save the day.
Sean Cafferty adds that the
Holly Holy Day Society are working on their own website.
Of course, "A Dabber's
Nantwich" will also carry any news, but it doesn't hurt to have as
many information outlets as possible.
One of those staying at the helm is the Treasurer, Nantwich Town
Councillor, Graham Fenton, and joining them will be Allison Horrobin,
Nantwich Museum's Community Learning Officer.
UPDATE: Allison left the Museum to work at Norton Priory Museum, but
remained on the Holly Holy Day Committee.