A Letter from Nantwich

July 2008                                                                                                            

Winter battle commemoration is saved

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 necessity.

   "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 authority.

   "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 involvement

   "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.

    This may 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!"

   Sean 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.


l 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.  

Battle of Nantwich introduction | Battle over timing | Let battle commence | Festival churns up island | Scheme to finance island drainage

Big Battle of Nantwich | Andrew Gillitt's big dayMill Island daffodils survive | Mill Island site for tourism building? | Official Holly Holy Day website | Letters index

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