Flare for fundraising
383. Chris Harrop
A Scouts volunteer who has turned his local bonfire celebration into a community event that attracts 1,800 people and funds the local Scout group.
Chris Harrop has organised the annual bonfire and fireworks display in Langho, near Blackburn in Lancashire, for the last 26 years. Together with Mel Gerrard and Gary Walton, who have both been involved for the last ten years, the bonfire helps to bring together young and old alike in the village. Last year the event raised over £2,000 towards funding the sixty-strong St Leonard’s Langho Scout Group.
Over the past few years, the money raised has enabled the Group to buy new tents, dining shelters and other associated camping equipment. In addition to buying equipment, the funds help with hiring of transport to and from events and also to subsidise events, meaning that all members are given the opportunity to attend. Chris started volunteering with St Leonard’s Scout group as an 18 year old in 1989 after being a member of the group for the previous ten years.
The annual bonfire event in the 1980’s was small scale and on the verge of dying out when Chris started taking responsibility. Since then the family-friendly event has grown over the years from 600 to over 1,800 people attending last year, making the bonfire night a highlight in the Langho community calendar. Chris has always been keen to keep the prices affordable so families can attend and charges under £10 for a family of five to make sure the event is open to as many people as possible.
St Leonard’s Scout Group is made up of around sixty 6-18 year olds from Beavers to Explorer Scouts, all ready to lend a hand together with sixty local volunteers to make the event a success. Work includes handing out flyers in advance, building the bonfire, arranging all the catering, running various stalls on the evening and cleaning up the day after.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“As well as being a great family night out, many bonfires taking place around the country this week will raise money for a huge number of good causes. Chris Harrop has turned the annual Scout bonfire in Langho into a fantastic night out for the whole community, that also funds the local Beaver, Cub and Scout groups. I hope that this year’s event is a huge success and I am delighted to able to recognise Chris’s contribution by making him a Point of Light.”
“I’m very proud to receive this award. Our event has always been about involving the Scout Group in the wider community and it’s great that our attendance numbers are increasing year on year. It takes a lot of planning and preparation in the months beforehand but the rewards are so worthwhile for not just the Scout Group but the community as a whole. Without the funds raised and the amazing help of our willing group of volunteers, under the guidance of Melanie, Gary and myself, the Scout Group wouldn’t be able to offer the opportunities and experiences that we are able to do so to the young people from our community. People mistakenly think that Scouting is a paid role and that we receive funding nationally, which certainly isn’t the case.”