Monday, 21 June 2021

Christmas fair is saved after big turnout

THE future of Watlington’s Christmas celebrations has been secured after the successful 11th annual event on Saturday.

THE future of Watlington’s Christmas celebrations has been secured after the successful 11th annual event on Saturday.

More than 500 people attended the festive fair, which featured stalls in the High Street, sleigh rides, Santa’s grotto and food.

The event is organised by volunteers on behalf of the Watlington Business Association to raise funds for the town’s Christmas trees and decorations.

However, there was a shortage of helpers after last year and it was feared the fair would not survive. Then the organisers appealed for help through the Henley Standard and more volunteers came forward.

Co-ordinator Sam Swanson said the success of Saturday’s fair meant it would continue and a date for next year had already been set  — Saturday, December 3 — with bands and the memorial club already booked.

She said: “The high street was absolutely packed, which was really lovely to see. We were delighted. It also didn’t rain, which really helped.”

A 10-strong team organised the event with an additional three volunteers on the day.

Mrs Swanson, who runs Chiltern Pet Partners with her husband Adam, said: “It was the slickest operation we have ever had.

“There has been a whole different feel to it this year just because there have been so many more people getting involved. It makes a massive difference.

“This time last year I was so upset and worried because we’d had so many problems on the day but this year I’m absolutely delighted and already looking forward o meeting up with everybody in January.”

Father Christmas was picked up from the fire station in a sleigh driven by Mrs Swanson and ponies Jellybean and Charlie and escorted by a fire engine before being dropped off at his grotto, which was run by Watlington Pre-School.

The crowd was entertained by Benson Choral Society, Watlington Concert Band, local saxophone group Casual Sax and the Glee UK High Wycombe branch. Town crier Ray Young made announcements. A craft fair at the Watlington Club featured 17 stalls along with 41 in the High Street, including 10 food fair stalls. A barbecue was manned by butchers Calnan Brothers.

There were stalls run by the Women’s Institute, the Watlington branch of the Royal British Legion, the Beacon Festival, scouts and fire cadets as well as the shops.

The Watlington neighbourhood plan team’s stall was visited by Henley MP John Howell.

Children played games including chuck the turkey and beat the goalie and there was a fire engine for them to look around. A huge Christmas tree, which was donated by Andrew and Jane Ingram, who run the Tree Barn at Christmas Common, was on display for the first time.

The Duchess of Kent, who lives nearby, was the guest of honour once again and drew the raffle, which raised £1,600.

The total amount raised is not yet known but once the trees and decorations have been paid for the surplus will be donated to local youth groups, including the scouts, fire cadets, the junior football team and the judo club.

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