Torbay’s Earth Hour a fantastic success for residents

 Around 600 people came down with lanterns to celebrate Earth Hour, a global environmental event.

Earth Hour Torbay – an event commissioned by Torbay Council and the UNESCO English Riviera Global Geopark – took place on Saturday 26th March when organisers encouraged people to switch off their lights at home and come and enjoy an evening of ‘unplugged’ entertainment on Torre Abbey Sands. The event coincided with the adoption of our Carbon Neutral Council Action Plan and Policy on Tuesday 22 March.

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and takes place on the last Saturday of March in over 190 countries across the globe. Participants are called on to switch off their lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, as a symbol of commitment to the planet. Earth Hour Torbay saw people meeting at the end of Princess Pier to sign a climate pledge, before the festoon lights turned off and hundreds joined a lantern procession down to the beach, led by Drum Devon and an illuminated stilt walker from Higher Beings. 

Down on the beach, artwork of a giant lightbulb and the words “Earth Hour Torbay” had been created earlier in the day by sand artist Geoffrey ‘The Sandyman’ Ward. It was then illuminated with more than 800 candles in jars by event organisers, Tonic Creatives. Councillor Jermaine Atiya-Alla – the Climate Change Champion – welcomed people and launched the event as hundreds of people looked on from the promenade and bridge above.

There then followed entertainment including light and fire juggling by Higher Beings Circus and Merlin and live shanty music by shanty duo Cask, a father and daughter who dress as a pirate and a mermaid. The evening finished with more drumming before the glass jars were collected to be recycled before the tide came in.

Councillor Mike Morey, Cabinet member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture at Torbay Council said: “Earth Hour Torbay was a fantastic event, and I would like to thank the organisers, the acts and everyone who turned off their lights at home and came out to support on the night. It was great to see such a wide age range of people in attendance, all keen to show their support and commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly. The entertainment and atmosphere were amazing, and I do hope this can become an annual gathering.” 

Nick Powe, Geopark Chairman said: “Having so many, of all ages, switch off and join this event was just wonderful. It made for a great opportunity to reflect on our daily lives and think about what we can all do as individuals on a daily basis to help make change happen. All UNESCO Global Geoparks around the world are aligned to the 17 UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals so we were delighted that the Council were able to join us and support this event to make it into something special for all those who attended.  Plus a really big thank you has to go out to all those who made and brought along their own recycled lanterns which helped to make it such a magical event.”

Councillor Jermaine Atiya-Alla, the Torbay Council Climate Change Champion said “I was delighted to open this fantastic event and to see so many people come and join us and commit to helping save our planet. Torbay Council has declared a climate emergency and we are working with the local community to make Torbay carbon neutral by 2030. Just last week we have committed £1 million to tackle climate change in our approved Carbon Neutral Council Action Plan and events like this show that the local community are keen to do their bit too.” 

Find out more about Torbay Council’s new Carbon Neutral Policy.