Meet the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations Ambassadors
Meet a group of people who love Blackpool and the Illuminations so much, that they promote, coax and cajole everyone into helping – meet the Ambassadors!
You can find out more about the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations and how they came into being here.
The Ambassadors are the people who spread the word. They organise events and fundraising, and get people involved. They encourage Fylde Coast businesses and people to see the worth of the Lights to Blackpool, and get people involved.
The Lights don’t just benefit a handful of businesses in the centre of Blackpool. They bring people and money to town for weeks each year, and in turn create a huge boost to the Fylde Coast. From Fleetwood to Lytham businesses supply goods, services and materials because of the Lights – and the spin-off to everyone is huge.
Meet the Ambassadors
Anyone who knows Gary Pretty (above) will know that he’s got ‘Blackpool’ running through him like a stick of rock!
As many people are who are involved in the community, Gary is involved in all kinds of different projects. He was Chairman of the Blackpool Combined Association, and the former Bispham and Anchorsholme Forum. He’s an active member of the Rotary Club. Between them he finds time to run his own business, the Hesketh Hotel at North Shore.
Gary organises the Illuminations Banquet and Ball, held each Spring to welcome hoteliers back to the start of the season and begin the year.
Gary leads a double life. Oh yes he does! Each night of the Illuminations, whatever the weather, you’ll find him on the Cliffs or promenade dressed as Bob the Builder. He’s collecting for the Illuminations fund – now that’s what you can only call dedication!
In common with the other Ambassadors, Clare Taylor (above) loves the Blackpool Illuminations, and her little girl is just obsessed by them!
Clare is with Duxbury’s which is one of the many businesses to benefit from the prosperity that the Illuminations bring to the town. She decided to get involved and do what she could to help.
Clare says “I get to contribute to something which is important not just to our business but to the whole of Blackpool. Then there’s the benefit of being involved at close quarters with something which is all about fun. It’s the best of both worlds – what more could you want!”
In the first place Jane Littlewood (above) was invited to an open event at Lightworks. That’s the huge and impressive place where the magic is made at South Shore.
Jane said “I’ve always been a huge fan of everything to do with Blackpool and the Illuminations. For me they never lost the magic which they held when I was a young girl here on holiday. I came into the building, saw the tableaus up close and looking so big. I met the people who are so friendly and I just couldn’t stop myself from getting involved.”
Jane got involved to help to spread the message. To help the people who are working hard to fundraise and have a voice, and to encourage sponsorship.
Jane added “At the same time as achieving something important it’s also good fun. I’ve met some lovely people who love Blackpool just as much as I do. It makes me feel just like I did when I was a little girl gazing at the coloured lights – and that can’t be a bad thing!”
Mike is now retired from paid employment but his working career was spent in the tourism department at Blackpool Council. Throughout the many years he spent there he organised big events, Illuminations Switch On’s and was vital to the promotion of our wonderful resort.
Mike brings a wealth of knowledge, contacts and plenty of expertise to the Friends of the Illuminations. He got involved because he’s also got Blackpool running through his veins – just like a stick of rock!
The Original Ambassador – Shirley Hunt
Final mention must go to Shirley Hunt (below) who was the leading light of the Friends of the Illuminations. As the original Ambassador she achieved such a lot, until stepping down at the beginning of 2017.
Shirley was involved right from the beginning. She’d gone to the first meetings to find out what would happen and if there would be any implications for her own business, the Cranstone Hotel.
Shirley says “It was from the concerns at that time that the Friends were born. I met Richard Ryan, the Head of the Illuminations, and it was decided to form a group. Including local businesses we would spread the word about how the Lights are vital to all of us, that we should all get involved and donate to make them a success for the future”.
Shirley went out street collecting and visiting businesses herself. That was one of the main reasons why she got involved, to encourage all businesses to put their hand in their pockets. From hotels and guest houses to taxis and burger vans, everyone benefits.
Shirley adds “We’ve made a lot of friends, learnt a lot along the way, and raised the profile and importance of the Illuminations.
“People are starting to sit up and take notice, and businesses are starting to get involved. That’s just what we wanted and hopefully it will be like a snowball rolling down a hill from here. We still need more people getting involved all the time to raise more money and spread the word.”
Find out More
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