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Record crowd for Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race

The start of the open race. Picture by Nick Clark.
The start of the open race. Picture by Nick Clark.

Hundreds of people enjoyed another successful staging of the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race.

With the rain just about holding off, a record crowd was present to cheer on all the competitors at the annual New Year’s Day event, organised by Ponteland 41 Club and Ponteland Rugby Club.

Ponteland Mayor Alan Varley with ladies' race winners Jo Shallcross and Charlotte Condliffe. Picture by Nick Clark.

Ponteland Mayor Alan Varley with ladies' race winners Jo Shallcross and Charlotte Condliffe. Picture by Nick Clark.

The main race and ladies’ only contest take place over a mile-long course that starts and ends at The Blackbird Inn. There is also a shorter junior race.

John Morris once again took on the traditional role of Lord Mayor of Ponteland and the current Mayor of Ponteland, Coun Alan Varley, was also present to support the event.

Brothers Richard and James Leiper, six minutes and 47 seconds, retained the open race title – winning by the smallest of margins from another set of siblings, Callum and Jack Johnson, six minutes and 48 seconds.

Mark Turnbull and Julian Goodhall were third in six minutes and 52 seconds.

Ponteland Mayor Alan Varley with open race winners Richard and James Leiper. Picture by Nick Clark.

Ponteland Mayor Alan Varley with open race winners Richard and James Leiper. Picture by Nick Clark.

In the ladies’ race, Jo Shallcross also retained her title, this time partnered by Charlotte Condliffe, in a time of eight minutes and 51 seconds.

Rosie Carr and Abby Dorani were second. In the previous year, they finished fourth in a time of 10 minutes 15 seconds and this year they improved by more than a minute to achieve a time of nine minutes and one second.

Sarah Hamilton and Rebecca Scott finished third in nine minutes and five seconds.

The result of the junior race came down to a three-way photo finish, with siblings Max and Daisey Souter winning by a whisker from Jack Stroud and Ethan Beynon in second and last year’s winners, cousins Drew Slater and Amy Geddes, in third.

There was a close finish to the main open race. Picture by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.

There was a close finish to the main open race. Picture by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.

As in previous years, the participants and many of those who attended put some cash in the collection buckets and funds were also collected through sponsored wheelbarrows.

This year, money was being raised for St Oswald’s Hospice and Tynedale Hospice at Home – the area it covers includes Ponteland.

Some of the people taking part wore eye-catching fancy dress outfits.

This was the third year since The Blackbird Inn began playing a more active role in the organisation of the races and once again its bar was open throughout the event and mulled wine and BBQ food was available before, during and after the races.

Some of the people taking part wore eye-catching fancy dress outfits. Picture by Nick Clark.

Some of the people taking part wore eye-catching fancy dress outfits. Picture by Nick Clark.

The pub is owned by Greene King Pub Partners, but run as an independent business.

“As we were already an integral part of such a worthwhile community event, we really wanted to give it all the support we possibly could,” said The Blackbird Inn’s Stuart Young.

“Everyone involved works very hard so the race can go ahead and we are very grateful that a number of the wheelbarrows have been sponsored this year.”

This year, some of the wheelbarrows were able to be branded with company logos and Greene King sponsored two of them.

The start of the ladies' only contest. Picture by Nick Clark.

The start of the ladies' only contest. Picture by Nick Clark.

The result of the junior race came down to a three-way photo finish. Picture by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.

The result of the junior race came down to a three-way photo finish. Picture by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society.