16 April 2024

‘This year’s Blue Light Weekend will be on a scale like Withernsea has never seen’

by Sam Hawcroft

The organisers of the second annual Blue Light Weekend in Withernsea have said it will feature a free Tier 2 airshow – double the size of last year’s and one of the largest in the North of England.

In the past few days it has been revealed that the RAF Typhoon display team from 29 Squadron will be visiting Withernsea as part of the air show. The town is included in the team’s official 2024 schedule, which also includes such major occasions as the Royal International Military Tattoo at RAF Fairford, the Wales Air Show in Swansea, the Bournemouth Air Show and appearances in Sweden and Canada.

A Tier 2 airshow consists of up to 12 separate aerial events and requires an experienced Flying Display Director (FDD). The Blue Light Weekend has managed to secure one of the UK’s leading FDDs for the event in August – and some of last year’s hit attractions will also be returning for 2024.

However, the organisers have stressed that bringing a much bigger event to Withernsea means that it will cost far more to stage. They are appealing to businesses and residents for any donations they can give, large or small, to ensure they can make this year’s ambitious programme a reality.

Event director Andy Medcalf said: “The organising committee are all local people. We understand that finances are tight, especially in our region, so once again 99 per cent of the weekend will be completely free as we want to encourage families to attend.

“But we are appealing for local and regional businesses to back us with sponsorship of various levels, and there are benefits we can provide in return – including some rewards for our larger backers that money can’t buy.

“Every penny really does count and, if you are able, we’d gratefully welcome a donation of any size to our crowdfunding site. Some of the most fantastic gestures we’ve seen have come from members of the public who have got behind our vision and made our first event such an amazing success.”

This vision was originally that of Andy’s brother Steve, Withernsea RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager who tragically died in December 2022 – and the event continues in his memory with the twin aims of raising money for local emergency and lifesaving services while putting the resort on the map.

This year’s Blue Light Weekend will be on August 10-11. As in 2023, the Saturday will feature the hugely popular 2km colour run organised by Blip Active, as well as sea-based attractions such as swim races, a 10-team fun raft race, exercises and demonstrations by the local lifeboats – plus many more attractions yet to be announced.

Returning this year is the popular veteran pilot Nick Lee and his wartime Tiger Moth, plus three jumps by the Royal Navy Raiders parachute team – who, when they visited Withernsea for the first time last year, were full of praise for the town and the response to their display. Look out for a future edition of the Gazette in which we talk to the parachutists in depth about their experiences at last year’s Blue Light Weekend.

UK aerobatic champion Tom Cassells will also be back this August, this time partnering fellow aerobatic champion Mike Pickin – they will both wow the crowds as the Starlings Aerobatic Display Team.

In addition to all this, the crowds on Withernsea’s promenade will be treated to a display from the Jubilee Pitts special aerobatic team in their high-performance biplane.

Even more aerial events are planned, and these will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Such is the demand for the event that more than 40 stallholders have already applied to line the festival area, which this year will also see a promenade music stage featuring top local artists.

As part of the event’s summer fundraising drive, the Blue Light Weekend committee has secured one of the UK’s top Beatles acts to play at Withernsea’s Willows Club on Friday, July 26.

Beatles Complete have agreed to take time out from their weekly residency at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club to visit Withernsea, where they will present a night of Beatlemania packed with all of the legendary band’s biggest hits. Tickets, priced £15, will initially be available from Precious Prints in Queen Street, Withernsea, with more going on sale online at a later date.

Also raising vital funds for the event will be the Tiger Moth raffle, in which people can once again buy tickets for the chance to win a flight in the wartime aircraft.

As last year, there will also be a competition to win a helicopter ride courtesy of Martyn Taylor, of event sponsor Phoenix Building Systems.

Andy added: “This will be on a scale like Withernsea has never seen before – and we are possibly expecting more visitors than we saw last year.”

For more information, to donate or buy music or raffle tickets, visit bluelightweekend.com. To sponsor an event, contact [email protected].