The year - 2016, saw the 28th year of the annual F.E.R.N. bonfire. The tradition was started in 1988 by Mrs Sherry Phillips who was at that time manger of the Speech House. Sherry invited The Royal Forest of Dean Rotary Club and The Severn Dean Lions Club to join her in putting on a bonfire and fireworks display at the Speech House with local charities to benefit from the proceeds. This was an apt venue, as for hundreds of years the Speech House has been the traditional meeting place of the Forest of Dean.
The next year The Forest of Dean Lions Club joined the bonfire organisation. The first bonfire and display was put on in 1989. Everything that year was done by hand, whereas now much of the hard work is done by machinery.
Sherry retired from the F.E.R.N. committee in 1994 and since then the organising committee have carried on the tradition. Royston Pritchard of the Forest of Dean Lions Club took the chairman's role from Sherry and served as chairman for 9 years. The third chairman of the committee was Ian Davies of Cinderford, also of the Forest of Dean Lions Club. Under Ian's 7 year chairmanship, record amounts of money were raised for local good causes. The chariman for the 2015 event is David Reid.
The local fire fighters have always had a presence at the event. Local ambulance crews attended the first events but their place is now taken by St John's Ambulance. The F.E.R.N. Committee are very grateful for the many local businesses that have supported the F.E.R.N. bonfire over the years..
An earlier version of this an article appeared in
on Thursday 4th November 2004.