Click here to go to the Viva Lewes homepage

Name: Christine Armitage
Bonfire Society: Waterloo
Position: Vice Chairman. I was secretary for 17 years, and I retired, but somehow I found myself in a new position. I’m also the Captain of Bands.
Years in society: I’ve been in Waterloo since 1977/78, and in Bonfire since I was 11 months old. I’ve participated in Lewes Bonfire since I was 14, when my father deemed me old enough to join in the Commercial Square activities with him. He was a member of Commercial Square from when he was 14 until he died, two years ago, aged 86.
What’s Bonfire Night in Lewes all about? It’s a feeling. It’s a way of life. It’s in your blood. It’s part excitement, part apprehension. You hope and pray everything’s going to go all right. Last year we had a Gurkha band, and I said to one of them afterwards, ‘I bet you’re tired.’ He said ‘Yes, ma’am, but happy tired.’ He summed up how you feel after a good Bonfire Night.
What’s your itinerary on the fourth? I’ll be up at or before 6am. Then I’ll start preparing the food for the ladies who prepare the food for the bands. We’ve got four this year. Then the bands arrive early in the afternoon, and we look after them, which takes us up to the processions. Later on I’ll take over the PA van at the fire site. I have a mobility problem, so I don’t normally go on the Grand United Procession (though I was pushed on my wheelchair last year). This year, though, I’ve got a set of wheels - an electric buggy - so I’ll be a bit more mobile, and I’ll join the procession. I’m thrilled about that.
How many hours have you spent preparing this year? I couldn’t possibly put it into hours. I’ve spent part of every day of the year from the 6th to the 5th preparing for Bonfire night. It’s never ending. It used to be a hobby - nowadays it’s more like running a business.

Christine Armitage: ‘Bonfire is a way of life’