Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Rally set to break £500,000 barrier

Rally set to break £500,000 barrier

THE proceeds from this year’s Woodcote Rally could bring its all-time fund-raising total to more than £500,000.

Thousands of visitors attended the 56th annual steam rally on Saturday and Sunday despite clashes with the Formula One British grand prix and the finals of both the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon.

Organisers say attendance was much higher than last year and although they are still counting the proceeds, they need only to have raised about £8,000 to hit the half-million mark. The previous event, which had low attendance on the Sunday, raised £11,000.

As ever, the money will be shared between dozens of local charities and other good causes by the Woodcote Charitable Association, which launched the rally in 1964. This year’s festivities featured almost 55 vintage and miniature steam engines, tractors, commercial vehicles, cars, motorbikes and military vehicles, many of which took park in working displays in the main arena.

These included a stunt in which an old car was tied to two large engines which pulled it apart by driving in opposite directions.

The vehicle first buckled then snapped cleanly in two, exposing the dashboard to the outside. There was also a working area run by the Thames Valley Vintage Tractor and Engine Club whose members demonstrated a 1918 hay loader, a Forties threshing drum and a hay bob and bailer from the Sixties.

Exhibitors included the Waistell family, of Binfield Heath, whose entries included a 1919 Garrett traction engine and a 1924 Wallis and Steevens steam roller. Richard Hazell, of Whitchurch Hill tarmac firm Hazell and Jefferies, was showing several old working vehicles.

Prizes will be given to the best entries at a ceremony at Woodcote village hall in November, where the amount raised will also be revealed.

Meanwhile, guests could enjoy steam engine rides or visit the craft and country area where there were market stalls and demonstrations of wood painting, jewellery making and falconry.

Children could have their faces painted or ride on a pony provided by RKD Ponies, of Checkendon, and there was a dedicated area with inflatables, animatronic puppets, a soft play bus and arts workshops. There was also a new penalty shoot-out challenge run by Woodcote/Stoke Row football club.

About a dozen stalls were selling food from around the world and there was a beer tent as well as a Pimm’s, gin and prosecco bar and vintage tea room run by Time For Tea, of Henley.

There was also a live stage with performances by local bands including The Lightyears and Dolly and the Clothespegs as well as a drum group from Langtree School in Woodcote.

Spokesman Andy Crockett said: “It was very good this year as numbers appeared to be way up. We won’t have the exact figures for a while but our car park was full and we were struggling to find places for people to park.

“It was busy on both days, which is unusual as the Sunday is usually quieter, especially with all the sporting fixtures that were taking place. We’ve had lots of feedback from people saying they had a wonderful time.

“The ring events were very popular. There were lots of people sitting or standing around the arena for all the displays. I suppose it’s more exciting to see these vehicles working and not just standing on the spot.

“The weather was fantastic as well because it was warm but not too hot. We’ve still got to count our takings and make sure we’ve paid all our bills but it’s all looking promising.”

Recent beneficiaries include the campaign to refurbish Woodcote village hall, which received £1,000 last year, as well as the neighbouring community centre, the village green committee and schools and sports clubs.

• Next year’s rally will take place on the usual field off Tidmore Lane on July 11 and 12.

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