Plea to support upcoming Byron Festival

READY TO CELEBRATE BYRON -- main organiser Ken Purslow (left) with a portrait of the great poet
READY TO CELEBRATE BYRON -- main organiser Ken Purslow (left) with a portrait of the great poet

A SPECIAL plea for wholehearted support from Hucknall people for this year’s International Byron Festival has been made by the main organiser, Ken Purslow.

Appropriately, in the year of the London Olympics, the ten-day festival — to run from Friday June 1 until Sunday June 10 — has been given the theme of ‘Byron And Sport’.

As the festival coincides with celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and London 2012 imminent, excitement and a feelgood factor are mounting.

“In this context, it will be a great pity if our festival does not spark an enthusiastic response,” said Mr Purslow. “The festival committee has pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable success.”

Previous festivals have been blighted by small attendances at many of the events.

But an ambitious programme of 25 events has been arranged this year — and eight of them will be devoted to different kinds of sport.

A double highlight will be two swims in the pool of Hucknall Leisure Centre on Linby Road. The first is a sponsored swim on Saturday June 2 in aid of Help For Heroes, which supports British service personnel wounded in conflicts.

Then, the next day, a challenge will be taken up to anyone wishing to emulate Byron’s achievement in swimming the two miles across the Hellespont in Turkey in 1810.

Another highlight will be ‘Sport And Dance on Hucknall Market Place’ on Saturday June 9, with demonstrations of boxing by members of Hucknall’s St George Club and a display by Kimberley Fencing Club, together with an appearance by the Ripley Morris Men.

In a talk at Hucknall Library on Friday June 8, leading Byronist Ralph Lloyd-Jones will pose the question of whether the poet was a team player or was he swimming alone against the tide.

More than 30 members of the Blue Boar Scooter Club will assemble on the Market Place on Saturday June 2 before proceeding along High Street to the leisure centre.

The other sporting events are a basketball tournament on Sunday June 3, a cricket match between Hucknall and Kirkby Portland under-15 teams on Wednesday June 6, the Byron golf tournament at the Leen Valley Club on Sunday June 10, and the Byron bowls competition between Titchfield Men and Hucknall Ladies for the Byron Trophy on the same day.

Walkers will also be well catered for, with a Hucknall town centre heritage walk on Monday June 4, a Byron walk around Hucknall Parish Church — where the revered poet is buried — on Tuesday June 5 and the customary Byron pilgrimage walk to Newstead Abbey and back on Wednesday June 6.

The ever-popular ‘Ghostly Tales Of Annesley Hall’ attraction will be held bext Friday and also on Wednesday June 6 and Friday June 8.

Highlights will also include a Byron dinner at the John Godber Centre on Ogle Street on Thursday June 7, a heritage day at the Central Methodist Church on Baker Street on Saturday June 9.

Children can enjoy a fun day at Hucknall Leisure Centre and a family story-telling hour at the leisure centre, both on Saturday June 2.

Town crier Harry Bodkin has become a familiar figure in the town centre during the past week to promote the festival.