Pendleside Hospice needs 2,022 fancy dress witches for spellbinding world record attempt
and live on Freeview channel 276
The hospice intends to reclaim the Guinness World Record for having ‘The Largest Gathering Of People Dressed As Witches’ – a feat they held for 12 months in 2012.
Five celebrities are helping to promote the summer-long campaign which ends in the record attempt at the Pendleside WitchFest at Barrowford Park, on Saturday, September 17.
Emmerdale star Samantha Giles has been joined by Pendleside ambassadors Radio 1 DJ and TV personality Jordan North; Clarets striker Jay Rodriguez and singer Josh Hindle; as well as Pendle Witches expert Simon Entwistle.
Samantha, who plays Bernice Blackstock in the ITV soap drama, is also a children’s book author and her first penned novel was ‘Rosemary And The Pendle Witches’.
Around 50 people attended the campaign launch today at the Pendle Inn, Barley, in the heart of Pendle Witches’ country, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Burnley, Coun. Mark and Kerry Townsend, and the Mayor of Pendle, Councillor Neil Butterworth.
Nelson-based internet and telecommunications group Daisy are the festival’s main sponsors and were represented at the launch by sales director Andrew Riley.
Children from Barrowford County Primary School dressed as witches and mingled amongst the guests.
Mother-of-two Samantha, who is a self-proclaimed witch, said: “I became fascinated with the Pendle Witches when I was researching my book. And when I heard about the WitchFest
campaign I immediately wanted to get involved.
“Here’s hoping we break the record in September and more importantly raise the £100,000 for the hospice.”
Pendleside first created the world record in 2012 – on the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witches trials and subsequent hangings.
The record then was 482 but that was beaten a year later by a town in Spain who recorded 1,607 people.
This year Pendleside intends to gather a minimum of 2,022 people to correlate with the year.
Helen McVey, chief executive of Pendleside, said: “The WitchFest campaign is focused on creating a lot of family fun while at the same time bringing the witches’ world record back to its rightful home in this part of the country.
“And, of course, our main aim is to raise at least £100,000 towards continuing the palliative end-of-life care; health and wellbeing services; and bereavement counselling services that we provide.
“It costs £4.5million to run the hospice each year of which we receive about £1million from the NHS. The rest is raised by the generous people of Burnley and Pendle.
“We are reaching out to all businesses, schools, colleges and other organisations to join us on September 17 to break the world record so we are appealing to as many people as
possible to come forward.”
It is expected that the WitchFest will attract folk from all over the country which will also help to boost the local tourist economy that has been badly affected by Covid 19.
Apart from the world record bid there will also be a sponsored walk from Barrowford Park to Barley and Roughlee and back, a live music stage, and other entertainment and side stalls
including drinks and food areas.
At the launch, tour guide Simon Entwistle dramatically told the story of the Pendle Witches who were a group of 10 women and two men who were hanged in 1612 after being accused of witchcraft and the murder of 10 people.
Actress Samantha said: “The so-called witches were people who used herbal and natural remedies but were accused of casting nasty spells on individuals. They were blamed for everything that went wrong in the area.
"From landowners’ crops failing to farm animals going lame and even people dying.”
For more information about the WitchFest and how to take part in the world record attempt go to www.pendleside.org.uk/pendleside-witchfest and www.facebook.com/pendlesidewitchfest