Written by Sharon Poulter
28 March 18

We have been lantern making with Junction Arts for the last 3 years but the girls made lanterns beforehand with Scarcliffe Primary School and through the 4th Bolsover Scouts Beavers and Cubs. (The very first lantern Connie made at school was for a theme of using recyclable materials. It was made out of a Cola bottle which was painted black then had stars cut out of it). We’d always gone down to watch the Parade but that was the first year that we took part (approx 2005).

The first lanterns we made with Connie and Alexandra at the community sessions in 2015 were a Llamacorn and a Pygmypuff, creatures found by the girls on the internet and in Alexandra’s favourite books, Harry Potter. (“Harry Potter is my life!”) Unfortunately, there was so much rain that year that the Llamacorn melted, but all of the other lanterns have been kept and live in the garage; they fall on Andy when he goes to the fridge!

When we saw the advert about the masterclass for ‘Pro lantern makers’, it made us think about building a lantern as a team. We wanted to make a lantern relevant to Bolsover and teamed up with our friends, Alex and Amanda Raben and their two kids, Ella and Oliver. We had lots of ideas and discussion with Alex about what the lantern would be, including a spitfire and a train which other teams ended up making anyway! One of the things that inspired us was watching the Cavendish horses at Bolsover Castle. Alex messaged me saying, ‘We should make it MASSIVE!” so we all cleared our diaries for November so we had time to do it! There were 8 of us altogether, 4 adults and 4 children, making the horse over 5 days. We have worked out that we collectively spent 240 hours making it! When we were making the horse, we had a debate about whether to add the rider, it seemed so much more work when we already had a full size horse to build. Alex won the debate and we are so glad that he did, the rider really brought the horse to life.

We like making stuff as a family, it’s fun! It’s something we can all do together and you get to meet some great people at the workshops. We look forward to seeing everyone’s ideas each year and a lot of the families help each other out. It is very sociable.

After the Parade, we wanted to gift the Cavendish horse to the Castle so that they could keep it in their riding school, in its rightful place. The day that Junction Arts phoned to say that the Castle wanted to keep it was such a relief. We’d spent the whole weekend clearing the garage because we didn’t have the heart to destroy it!

The girls have ideas for next year’s lantern, but nothing has been agreed! It will definitely be a team effort again with Alex and Amanda.

The community really look forward to the event and we wouldn’t have the brilliant lanterns and lights without it. There were so many people we knew as we walked around, some who aren’t even local to Bolsover. People kept on coming up to us after saying ‘Are you the family that made the horse?’ The Parade is a good talking point for the town. It has morphed into a full day now with the Christmas Festival and it is one of the highlights of our year.

Sharon Poulter

Below is a time lapse video created by Connie, showing the making of the Cavendish Horse Lantern.

Alexandra with her Pygmypuff lantern
Connie with her Llamacorn Lantern at the Junction Arts community workshop
William Cavendish and his dancing Cavalier Horse, Created by the Poulter Family, 2017/