May 15, 2005
Flag man heads for the heights of Burnham Pavilion
Burnham’s seafront briefly came to a standstill this week when walkers and motorists watched in awe as a brave man clambered across the roof of the town’s pier.
Burnham Pavilion, which is the shortest pier in the UK, has to change its flags every few months or the strong onshore winds tear them to shreds.
But new health and safety regulations mean the task cannot be taken lightly.
Louise Parkin, daughter of pier owner Harry Parkin, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “My father used to go up onto the roof to change the flags but the regulations that recently come into force mean we’re not able to go up without specialist equipment.”
“So we employ a specialist – Wayne Orchard from Porthcawl-based Celtic Flag Services – to do the job for us,” she said.
“He’s incredible; he shinnies up and changes the flags in a matter of minutes. He’s got incredible balance and clearly has a good head for heights.”
The plucky flag changer scales the heights of seaside piers across the West Country, dealing with flags in resorts such as Exmouth and West Bay. He even counts dozens of churches and castles as his customers.
Mr Orchard says the height doesn’t bother him: “I’ve been doing this for about 12 years and I never feel scared. If you felt scared you couldn’t do the job. Burnham’s pier is actually an easy one to do. The roof is strong and has got good traction.”
The progress of the flag man was watched not only by walkers and motorists on The Esplanade, but also Internet users thanks to Burnham-On-Sea.com’s live seafront Webcam.