Organisers of the annual fireworks display in Bexhill have strongly denied claims they profited from an official Remembrance event.
Shining Lights held its popular fireworks night on Sunday, November 11, and charged for entry as a way to raise funds for the town’s Christmas lights display.
However, concerns were raised that Shining Lights were profiting from commemorations to mark 100 years since the end of World War One, when the event was found to be registered as part of the official WWI Beacons of Light event at www.rafbf.org.
Shining Lights’ managing director Michael Matthews refuted the claims, insisting he and fellow director Anna Beale had no knowledge of the event being listed on the website prior to it taking place.
He said: “Both Anna and myself have never heard of the company that does this registration procedure or have any knowledge about it.
“After speaking with the owner of the registration company, I was informed that Shining Lights had registered to light the Bexhill beacon at Galley Hill two years ago.
“On further investigation we were informed that this registration was done, without the knowledge of Anna and myself, by a former director of the company who resigned his position with Shining Lights a year ago.
“So on behalf of Anna Beale and myself, we would categorically deny any knowledge of this.
“It’s a shame we weren’t made aware of this, as it would have been an honour to light the beacon on Galley Hill for Remembrance. As it was, the beacon was not lit.”
The former director in question, Andrew Crotty, said: “Both Anna and Michael did know about the company that does the registration because we lit the beacon at Galley Hill for The Queen’s 90th birthday. After that, the organiser asked if we would want to light it again for the end of the war centenary in 2018. Anna did have her concerns, but Michael and I felt two years would be enough time to plan for it. To say I acted alone is simply not true.”
Michael also denied claims the organisers misled the public by claiming the event was in aid of the Royal British Legion, saying it was always made clear the fireworks display was raising funds for the town’s Christmas lights.
He added: “We also have stated that we would make a donation to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and this we have done.
“We do hope that this answers all questions and accusations, and hope that you will all still keep supporting us in the future.”
He also made reference to the fact the event was originally planned for November 4 but, ‘due to factors outside of their control’, was moved to November 11 at a late stage.
The WWI Beacons of Light event saw beacons at 1,200 locations across the country all lit at 7pm on Sunday, November 11, 2018.