Illuminate Retford & Bassetlaw

Illuminate Bassetlaw with generosity in 2021

On Thursday 18th November 2021, we will be working with Bassetlaw Foodbank to deliver an opportunity for people to provide gifts of food to help those less fortunate. This will be a way for people to give thanks for their own lives whilst helping others to survive in modern hardship. We think this would be a good way to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first ‘Thanksgiving’ Meal held between the Wampanoag Native American people and the Mayflower Pilgrims in North America.

Donors will also have the opportunity to leave messages of hope on postcards which will be forwarded via Bassetlaw Foodbank to people receiving their parcels. To receive a positive message like this from other people, especially in the run up to Christmas, can make all the difference.

The Event

From 12noon on Thursday 18th November at St Swithun’s Church Retford, there will be a programme of performances and talks where everyone is invited to call in with their donations for Bassetlaw Foodbank (normal rules – cans, sealed packs etc). Donors are welcome to stay throughout or pop in for a few minutes – whatever works for them. Come along and make this a great event for Bassetlaw Foodbank and the people it serves – no-one should go hungry in Bassetlaw!

We will be giving donors battery tealight candles to display in their windows on 25th November (Thanksgiving Day in 2021). And we will be inviting them to take photographs of these to reflect the theme of Illuminate and share them on social media with the hashtag #OneSmallCandle, or send by email to We will also support schools in creating their own Illuminate features and will invite them to send photographs for our online display.

The Illuminate activity is inspired by a quote from William Bradford, one of the Mayflower Pilgrim leaders who became the second and longest-serving Governor of Plymouth Colony:
‘As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.’


On 25th November 2021, the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving meal will be commemorated. This was shared between the newly arrived settlers to North America – the Mayflower Pilgrims – and the local population who had formed an alliance with them – the Mashpee Wampanoag.
In the first year, half of the passengers from the Mayflower had died. They had arrived at the start of winter, ill-prepared for what was to come. Members of the native population showed them which crops to grow, and how to go about it. A year on from their arrival, a celebration meal took place with the settlers and the leader of the local Wampanoag people and one hundred of his warriors.
However the anniversary is not celebrated by the Wampanoag people today. The successful establishment of the Separatists was followed by large scale incursion by Europeans across the continent. Thanksgiving has been marked, since 1970, among many Native Americans as a National Day of Mourning.

Read more about Thanksgiving and the National Day of Mourning

Millions of Americans today mark Thanksgiving as a celebration of family and a chance to give thanks for what they have. People travel across the country to enjoy a meal together, usually featuring turkey. The original meal would probably have consisted of  venison, shellfish and cereals.
Heritage Engagement Officer, Isabelle Richards, said: ‘I am delighted that we are working together to ensure the momentum of previous Illuminate events is not lost in this 400th Thanksgiving anniversary year. The Thanksgiving/Illuminate project is a great opportunity for people to share hope and solidarity safely, and personally give thanks for whatever reason.’


Hourly Schedule

Talk and performance programme

12 noon - 12:15
Our event will be opened by John Coates and a team of bellringers.
12:30pm - 1:30pm
Organ recital and historical narrative
Stephen Carey will play five organ pieces specially composed for the Mayflower Pilgrims commemorations, with an introduction and supporting narratives by Isabelle Richards, Heritage Engagement Officer
1:30pm - 2:30pm
Elizabethan Academy Choir
Singers and musicians from Retford's Elizabethan school will perform
2:30pm - 3pm
Doncaster Waites
Performing popular music from the pilgrims' era
3pm - 3:45pm
U3A Recorder Consort
The local U3A recorder consort will perform
4pm - 4:45pm
Doncaster Waites
4:30pm - 5:30pm
Screening of Where It All Began and other Pilgrim videos
Sit back and take a tour around local historic locations linked to the Separatists
6:30pm - 7:30pm
Talk by Adrian Gray
Local historian and author Adrian Gray will speak on 'Thanksgiving and other meals'
7:30pm - 8:30pm
Emma Spencer & David Warren
A vocal duo performing popular favourites
8:30pm - 9pm
Jessica Mary Brett
Performance from Jessica, professional vocalist and founder of 'Let's Sing'
Thanks & Close


Nov 18 2021


12:00 pm - 9:00 pm


St Swithun's Church