Blackpool’s world famous Illuminations were today handed a major boost thanks to an electrifying sponsorship deal with a Fylde coast firm.
BES Commercial Electricity – the company owned by entrepreneur and Fleetwood Town FC chairman Andy Pilley – is backing the Lights to the tune of £100,000 over the next two years.
Mr Pilley said his company will provide the electricity for the display free of charge for 2014 and at half price for 2015.
Over the past 10 years new technology has meant that energy consumption for the Illuminations has reduced by two-thirds but given that they use enough electricity a year to power 700 homes the deal equates to around £100,000, making BES Commercial Electricity the biggest contributor to the lights for the past decade.
The “fantastic” news was today welcomed by town hall bosses and Lights campiagners.
The Illuminations will be launched on Friday, August 29 with a star studded weekend of entertainment being planned. The six mile show will run until Sunday, November 9.
Mr Pilley, said: “I’ve wanted to do this for a while, so I’m absolutely delighted we have signed the contract and we are now the proud energy supplier of the Blackpool Illuminations – The power behind the lights!”.
“It is a huge sponsorship deal for ourselves. I am Blackpool born and bred and so I am really pleased that the company is able to do this.
“We are a Fylde coast based electricity supplier and nearly all of our staff live here on the Fylde so it is nice to be able to give something back and do something to support this show, the greatest free light-show on earth.
“And it’s a very good fit for us given the nature of our business and will raise our profile both locally and nationally.
“Blackpool has not had the best of times in recent years, so this should be a shot in the arm.”
Michelle Davidson, director at BES, said: “We supply electricity to tens of thousands of businesses nationally as well as hundreds throughout the Blackpool area and there is a clear benefit that the Illuminations bring to residents and businesses on the Fylde coast.
“It helps our customers whether they are hoteliers, restaurants or local suppliers and I can’t think of a more fitting link than us as an electricity provider and Blackpool Council who deliver the Illuminations.”
Coun Graham Cain, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Leisure, said: “Each year we spend in excess of £2m on the Illuminations.
“We view it as vitally important to the economy of the town as a whole. When the lights are on businesses large and small benefit but in order for the show to continue change and develop we do need support from visitors and local businesses.
“I’m thrilled that BES Commercial Electricity is sponsoring the Illuminations in this way and I hope it marks the start of more local businesses following their lead.
“The money that this deal saves us will go towards the design and installation of new features in the Illuminations.”
Shirley Hunt from the Friends of Blackpool Illuminations was also delighted with the bumper backing.
She said: “The Friends of the Illuminations work tirelessly to get local businesses to sponsor parts of the lights every year but this is something really special.
“It is fantastic that a local businessman is supporting the Illuminations like this. Andy Pilley has come up trumps.
“It has not been easy in recent years collecting money to support the Illuminations for one reason and another so we have had to reinvent many of the displays to freshen it up.
“I am really excited at the prospect of the Illuminations team being able to spend some of this money on new designs.
“We don’t know what that will be exactly, but we do know that Head of Illuminations Richard Ryan and his team will come up with something.”
The big name performing the Switch-On event is yet to be revealed but on the Saturday night crowds will be dazzled with songs and dance from the West End including extended highlights from the Michael Jackson show Thriller Live and former S Club 7 star Jon Lee doing songs from the Jersey Boys.
On the Sunday the festival weekend continues with singer Rebecca Ferguson and bands Atomic Kitten, Liberty X, 911 and Damage.