Meet the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations, raising funds for the greatest free Light Show on earth
The Friends of Blackpool Illuminations work hard to raise funds and encourage business support for the Lights.
Purpose of the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations
- Raise the profile of the Blackpool Illuminations and to show local people and businesses just how vitally important they are to the economy of the Fylde Coast,
- Encourage local businesses to provide financial support and sponsorship for new features,
- Directly raise funds for the Illuminations.
Blackpool Council are only able to contribute roughly £2m each year towards the running costs of the Illuminations. This pays for putting them up and maintaining them, but as you can appreciate, their pot of money isn’t bottomless.
Especially in these modern, economically difficult times, it’s the investment into innovation and new features which the Council cannot fund. The new features are the things that bring people back each year.
Which is where the Friends come in.
With the support of the local business community – the ones who benefit from the Lights – so much more could be achieved.
The Background to the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations
In October 2011 there was a meeting of businesses at North Shore to discuss the cuts to the Illumination Fund. And how between them they could help to boost support and donations for the department.
The concern was that cutbacks to the fund and displays would have a hideous affect on North Shore businesses. (It was rumoured that the run of Lights were to be shortened, to end at Gynn Square).
The meeting made the local and regional news. MP’s and representatives from all over Blackpool attended and put forward their concerns and ideas.
Working Together to Help
Richard Ryan and Alan Cavill were present to answer questions. From this meeting a group was formed called ‘The North Shore Forum’.
The aim and objectives of the group were (and still are) to support Blackpool Council and the Illuminations fund. To help to maintain and hopefully improve the quality of the ‘Greatest free light show on Earth’.
Several meetings took place before Gary Pretty (the Chair of the Blackpool Combined Association) asked the members of NSForum to consider changing the group name.
It went to vote and ‘Friends of the Illuminations’ became the new name from January 2012.
The illuminations department at that time had a newsletter and Facebook page in the name of ‘Friends of Blackpool Illuminations’. The groups merged into one. With the same outlook, aims and principles, it made sense.
New Patron for the Friends of the Illuminations
In March 2012 a meeting was held at Lightworks to agree a board for the ‘Friends’ group. This is when Laurence Llewelyn Bowen attended and agreed to be Patron. Others volunteered to be Ambassadors, representing North and South shore sectors.
The team at Lightworks act upon ideas and concerns raised by businesses where possible. The group provides a direct link to traders that the department never had before that’s beneficial to both parties. Having a say is crucial, but being heard is priceless.
The Illuminations are paramount to the tourist industry and economy of Blackpool. They extend the season, create footfall and significant income when other UK seaside towns are no more than ghost towns.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the bottom line is money. The bigger and better the show, the more visitors it attracts. Year-on-year the Illuminations are the number one reason for people to visit Blackpool and the Fylde Coast.
Without more funding, the team are unable to improve on what they have, just maintain it.
Without progress, the Illuminations stare at the slippery slope of decline, so if you feel able to help the Illuminations, please do so.
Find out More
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