ORGANISERS of the district’s biggest bonfire and fireworks display have announced that it will not be taking place this year.

Hundreds of people travel to the Sele in Hexham every November for the annual event, which has been organised by Hexham Round Table for almost 70 years.

But with the likelihood that mass gatherings will not be allowed until next year due to coronavirus, the voluntary-led organisation has opted to pull the 2020 display.

Treasurer Andrew David Laidler said the decision to cancel had not been taken lightly, and confirmed that plans for a “special” return in November 2021 were already under way.

He explained: “This was going to be my 20th year building the bonfire for the people of Hexham and beyond, so please do not misunderstand me when I say that it is with a heavy heart that Hexham Round Table has had to make this announcement.

“I understand that some of you will have questions - there will be disappointment too. Hexham Round Table apologises.”

Mr Laidler said that going ahead with a reduced crowd was not an option for the event, which struggled to cover its costs last year.

A total of £13,000 was raised, but with costs of £11,500, on top of donations made to other organisations involved, the treasurer said any reduction in crowd size would jeopardise the future of the bonfire display, which dates back to 1951.

Mr Laidler admitted that the financial situation had led to concerns over the event’s future prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, he said that a Round Table meeting with other community groups, in February of this year, had been very encouraging.

He added: “We feel that bonfire nights after 2020 will be feasible with additional support from these groups and the local council, but this will require further consultation and planning.”