Wheelbarrows at the ready for annual New Year’s Day race

Close finish'Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race pictures by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society
Close finish'Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race pictures by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society

With traditions dating back to the 14th century, an annual much-loved and popular Northumberland event is set to take place on New Year’s Day.

St Oswald’s Hospice and Tynedale Hospice at Home are proud beneficiaries of the Ponteland Annual Wheelbarrow Race.

Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race pictures by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society

Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race pictures by June Atkinson, Ponteland Photographic Society

A popular event with the local community, the circular race course is just under a mile long, which takes around eight minutes for most teams to complete.

Beginning at noon, the dash starts at the Blackbird Inn in Ponteland and sees teams of two pushing each other in a wheelbarrow along the course, switching half way through the race.

The event is organised by Ponteland 41 Club and Ponteland Rugby Club. The Blackbird Inn supplies wheelbarrows and keeps everyone refreshed.

John Morris, Chairman of Ponteland 41 Club, said: “As our members join the Ponteland 41 Club in their later life, our prime objective is to organise and run a safe event for the enjoyment of the general public and participants alike.

Dave Daylor, senior chef, and Claire Richardson, a previous volunteer at St Oswald's Hospice, taking part in the annual Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race. Picture by Colin Morgan.

Dave Daylor, senior chef, and Claire Richardson, a previous volunteer at St Oswald's Hospice, taking part in the annual Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race. Picture by Colin Morgan.

“The monies raised from the bucket collection at the event, the race entry fees and sponsorship are all donated to local named charities. The atmosphere is always very friendly, exciting and acts like a fun pick-me-up for any New Year’s Day blues. It is very much a family event suitable for all age groups.”

This traditional event, which starts at noon, has been taking place in Ponteland for over 700 years. Originally a community event, it has now grown with people travelling from all over the North East to participate.”

There are three races on the day — juniors, ladies and open race for all adults. The junior races are shorter and are followed by a longer circular route for the adult races up North Road and back down Thornhill Road to The Blackbird Inn. Over 50 teams have entered in this year’s event.

Mr Morris added: “St Oswald’s Hospice and Tynedale Hospice at Home are well-respected local charities that offer an invaluable service to the community of all ages, including residents of Ponteland, and they are well worthy of our support.”

Danielle Harvey, Senior Fund-Raiser of St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “The Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race has been an ongoing partnership with St Oswald’s Hospice for four years now and with Tynedale Hospice at Home for three years. Each year, the event grows due to the amazing support of all the parties involved in organising the event, as well as the attendance of the local community.”