Celebrating the Lions Gala Day in Lowestoft – with photos from the past 25 years

The Lowestoft Lions Gala Day in 1997. Pictures: Mick Howes

The Lowestoft Lions Gala Day in 1997. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

The community group behind a popular broadside event that has become a bank holiday tradition are celebrating the 25th anniversary of them organising the day of fun.

Daredevil action at the Gala Day in 1993. Pictures: Mick Howes

Daredevil action at the Gala Day in 1993. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

The Oulton Broad Charity Gala Day has been established as an event to look forward to on August Bank Holiday Monday for many years - and present organisers Lowestoft Lions will be celebrating the 25th time that they have put on the day of entertainment.

For a number of years the Gala Day had been organised by a small committee of only seven people – then in 1993 the Lions offered to take over and have been running it ever since.

Lion Trevor Waters, who was also part of the original committee, said: 'Many may remember that before we took over, the show had included flying displays including the Red Arrows. But the regulations changed and we were not able to have such a show over Oulton Broad – however we have had some fantastic performers and some stunning acts during the time that we have organised the day.'

Max Bennett and Steve Downes aboard the Lowestoft Journal boat at the Maiden in Distress competition

Max Bennett and Steve Downes aboard the Lowestoft Journal boat at the Maiden in Distress competition at the Gala Day in 1993. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

As well as high wire performers, trapeze artists and a breathtaking spinning triple wheel, other arena entertainment has included stunt shows involving motorcycles and bikes, flights by birds of prey, wrestling, comedy gymnastics, dog agility displays, marching bands, local dancing groups and water skiing.


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Mr Waters said: 'It is always a challenge to come up with something new and appealing to entertain our visitors but we try very hard to bring the best of what's available to Gala Day.

'As well as motorboat racing, one other constant feature has been the firework finale that is set off from a pontoon on the broads. In the past this would have been preceded by a torchlight procession of boats culminating in the flaming sticks being used to ignite a floating bonfire topped with a model of a wherry with a golden sail. Sadly this tradition also became a victim of health and safety regulations.'

Entertainment at the Gala Day in 1998. Pictures: Mick Howes

Entertainment at the Gala Day in 1998. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

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Event history

Before 1993 the event was organised by a group of local businesses and other volunteer groups.

The Gala Day in 1998. Pictures: Mick Howes

The Gala Day in 1998. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

But as the numbers got smaller and smaller, the few remaining members realised that without additional help the event wouldn't continue. Having been a traditional event for many years, the committee didn't want this tradition to be lost and so it was offered to Rotary and Lowestoft Lions. After several discussions, Lowestoft Lions agreed to take it over, provided one of the existing committee members stayed on and helped them in the first year – this was Trevor Waters. Mr Waters said: 'The event that year was a great success, chaired by Lion Tony Matthews, who invited me to join Lowestoft Lions – and I have remained a Lion ever since.' Still involved with the Gala 25 years on, Mr Waters said: 'The Gala Day is the biggest fundraising event of the year for Lowestoft Lions and its organisation is a team effort – but they are rewarded by knowing that they have brought pleasure to others and by doing so also raised funds for our charity account to help a variety of projects in the local community.'

Fun at the Gala Day in 1999. Pictures: Mick Howes

Fun at the Gala Day in 1999. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

The fireworks display at the Gala Day in 2000. Pictures: Mick Howes

The fireworks display at the Gala Day in 2000. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2003. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2003. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2004. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2004. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2005. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2005. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2007. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2007. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2008. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2008. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2010. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2010. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2011. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2011. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2012. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2012. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2013. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2013. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2014. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2014. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2015. Pictures: Mick Howes

Scenes from the Gala_Day in 2015. Pictures: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

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