IMAGES: Bonfire on the Stray 2014

Crowds of up to 10,000 people gathered on Oatlands Stray to watch as colourful fireworks displays brightened up the skies above Harrogate on Saturday.

The annual bonfire and firework display, which has helped to raise around £10,000 for local charities, was organised by Harrogate’s Round Table for the 43rd year.

Harrogate Stray Bonfire. The Manley and Clarkson party. (1411014AM3)

Harrogate Stray Bonfire. The Manley and Clarkson party. (1411014AM3)

And with a festive atmosphere, and the weather staying warm and dry, organisers have said it may be one of the best yet.

“It was really well attended,” said organiser David Haslewood.

“It felt like one of the best bonfire and fireworks displays we’ve organised for a long time.

“A lot of that is down to the weather, and we had a cracking night. But a lot of hard work goes into it, both on the day and in the run up to it.

“We are all volunteers, so it’s very rewarding to see so many people there.”

In total, around £10,000 has been raised for the Round Table’s chosen charities; Henshaws society for the blind, and HG1000, an ambitious project launched by the congregation of St Mark’s church to provide 1,000 families in the developing world with clean water for life.

“Thank you to everybody for being so generous,” said Mr Haslewood. “It’s a huge amount of money to give in donations.

“I think we raised more on the night this year than we ever have before. People certainly donated more this year than they have in the past.”

Local Scout groups were selling hot food and drinks on the night, boosting their fundraising totals for the year, and Rossett Acre PTA raised around £1,000 from glow-in-the-dark novelties.

“It was a really friendly atmosphere,” said Mr Haslewood. “There was a real family feel to it and I think that everyone who went enjoyed it.

“The weather helped, and there was lots going on. The music from Stray FM was great.

“People who used to come as children are now bringing their own families, which is nice. It’s a real community event.

“The feedback has been really good. We were really happy with the fireworks display, which is paid for by Harrogate Borough Council.

“We certainly got our money’s worth.”

The Round Table, which also organises the Harrogate beer festival every year as well as well as setting up annual Christmas campaigns, has thanked a number of groups and organisations who contributed.

These included supporters Ferrensby Fireworks, Stray FM, FT Audio Visual, HACS group, Build Base, Fishers, Speedy Hire, Belzona, Harrogate Borough Council, and Holberry Signs.

“It’s an event that Harrogate can be proud of,” said Mr Haslewood. “It’s one of only a few events that is still open to the public free of charge. We’ve fought hard to keep it that way.

“We’ve had people asking for a bar next year, for extra attractions. The motto for the Round Table is to adapt and improve.

“We’re listening, and we’re always happy to hear new ideas.”

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