Villagers hope event will bring back the community spirit

THE tradition of the village gala is being revived by a three-strong band of volunteers.

Widdrington women Charlotte Townsley, Louise Henderson and Sharon Jordan teamed up last year to organise a community fun day in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The celebration at Stobswood Miners’ Welfare was based on the traditions of the old gala, with family games and refreshments, and it proved such a hit that the trio decided they would organise a similar event every year.

This year’s offering takes place at the Welfare on Sunday.

Mrs Townsley said: “We organised a Jubilee party last year to bring a bit of community spirit back into our village and it went really well so we decided we would do one every year and make it bigger and better.

“The Stobswood and Widdrington Community Fun Day is based on the old Widdrington Gala. The gala stopped probably 16 or 17 years ago, I think because it just ran out of volunteers because these things take quite a lot of organising, but it was always good fun and the Jubilee day we did was fantastic.

“There were about 700 people there. All the community turned out and there were people who had never seen each other for years. We raised over £1,200 for three local teams and the community was over the moon. People said we had to do it again.

“There is a lot of organising to do, but it’s all about the community.”

The team has been hard at work preparing for the day, organising a disco, quiz and other events to raise funds for bouncy castle hire, food, prizes and other expenses. Local businesses have also got on board and will set up stalls.

And a Prince and Princess have been chosen to open the fun day and act as VIPs. Seven-year-old Taylor Beverley and nine-year-old Joel Harrigan were chosen after a dance-off at the disco.

“The prince and princess are really looking forward to it, they are so excited,” said Mrs Townsley.

“I work for Co-operative Funeral Care and it is providing a limo for them to arrive in to cut the ribbon. It will be very special for them.”

Although the fun day is officially on Sunday, there will be some celebrations on Saturday when local men Stewart Neave and Barry Kelly are due to arrive at the Welfare after completing a cycle ride from Edinburgh to raise funds for the two village football teams and the cricket club.

On Sunday, an Oldies versus Young-uns football match kicks off the fun at 9am, followed at 11am by a family cricket match.

The fun day will officially open at 1pm and will include a boxing club presentation, sumo wrestling tournament, family sports day, Hoy The Welly and a tug of war. It is due to finish around 4pm.

Mrs Townsley said: “It follows a similar pattern to last year, but it is not quite the same. Last year we started with football, but it lasted all day whereas this year we are only doing it for a couple of hours because there is so much else going on. However, we will end with a tug of war again because it was a really good way to end the day last time and it was good fun for everybody to get involved.

“We are hoping that at least the same number of people will come along this year, and hopefully more. Of course, the whole thing is weather dependent because inside the Welfare there are dominoes and things and there is no room to take it inside. It is just a local working men’s club so we are keeping our fingers crossed and are looking at the long-range weather forecasts every day.”