Byron rides again to help stimulate interest in festival

NHUD10-2939-3''Hucknall's Gary Byron, left,  is set to dress as Byron to help the flagging festival, Gary is pictured with Ken Purslow, right, Chairman of The Newstead Abbey Byron Society.
NHUD10-2939-3''Hucknall's Gary Byron, left, is set to dress as Byron to help the flagging festival, Gary is pictured with Ken Purslow, right, Chairman of The Newstead Abbey Byron Society.

THE HUCKNALL man named Byron who is to impersonate the world-famous poet is to take part in a special event at a pub in the town centre.

The Red Lion on High Street once belonged to the Byron family, who used it as a place to collect rent from their tenants.

Now a re-enactment of this activity will take place at the Lion on Saturday June 4 as part of the 13th Hucknall-based International Byron Festival.

Gary Byron (50), of Derbyshire Lane, has agreed to dress up as the poet in an attempt to give the festival a vivid boost among residents of Hucknall.

He came forward in response to a Letter in the Dispatch last October from Ken Purslow, chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS) and the main festival organiser, appealing for a ‘new Byron’.

The festival event will recapture the scene when a member of the Byron family arrived at the pub on horseback for the rent collection.

Gary said he did not fancy the idea of getting on a horse — but he will not have to. For the owner of Footprints, a small theatre company, has five horses and will provide one of them and a rider for the occasion.

“The horse selected will be well-trained,” said Mr Purslow. “The horsebox will be placed at the back of the car park and the site will be sectioned off for the event.

“It should prove a very eyecatching occasion.”

Gary is being measured up by Jess Wall, of the Fancy Pants fancy dress shop on Annesley Road, Hucknall, for a Byron costume, with the aim of conveying Byron’s image as a leading romantic poet. Gary is helping towards that effect by keeping his hair long.

“I am not a particularly avid Byron fan but I am happy to become the poet if it helps to make the festival a success,” said Gary. “I am aware that I only live a short distance from Hucknall Parish Church, where the poet is buried.”

Gary works as a bus driver for Nottingham Community Transport, based in Sherwood. He and his partner for 26 years, Alison Pearl, have twin sons, Laurence and Dylan, who are four-and-a-half.

Having someone portraying Byron fits in with this year’s festival theme of ‘Byron And The Theatre’. Mr Purslow said he was very grateful to Gary for his support and he hopes this initiative will help to stimulate an upsurge of enthusiasm from Hucknall people for the festival.

Gary is wondering whether to delve into his family tree to see if he has any actual link with the poet.