Sunday, 22 July 2018

Christmas torchlight parade may return in smaller form

GORING’S annual Christmas Eve torchlight parade could return in a different guise.

The organisers of the event, which was cancelled last year for health and safety reasons, is seeking volunteers who could help them stage something on a smaller scale.

The format is yet to be agreed but it is likely to require marshals to supervise the crowds as well as road closures, liaison with the emergency services and possibly building a bonfire.

Thousands of people used to attend the annual event, marching along Goring high street and over the bridge into Streatley while carrying flaming torches. The procession would end with carol singing around a fire on Streatley Meadow.

It started as a local fixture more than 25 years ago but its profile grew and it started attracting visitors from across the country, prompting fears that an accident could happen.

Organisers were worried about people suffering burns or injuries as a result of overcrowding and the risk of setting light to the thatched properties that line the narrow route. Now they are to speak to several people who have offered their help and would like to hear from anyone else who is interested.

Mike Baker, who joined the organising committee just before the final parade in 2016, said: “We didn’t do anything last year, which is a shame, although there were very good reasons behind the decision.

“However, a lot of people feel it would be a shame if there wasn’t some kind of celebration so we’d like to do something to bring the two villages together. The parade was truly unique but it took on a life of its own after it appeared in a national newspaper. We had to keep people safe first and foremost but it was a charity event and we had to ask if we could really afford the necessary measures.

“Our main aim at this stage is simply to find the right people to help us. We’re lucky to have some volunteers but we still need to meet and explain the amount of work involved in detail so that they know exactly what’s involved. We need to decide whether we’re going ahead by the end of April.”

Anyone who is interested should email mpbaker@btinternet.com or kaywal23@hotmail.com

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