Sunday, 05 December 2021

Finally, village can celebrate

THE people of Woodcote were reunited on Saturday with the return of the village fete.

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the event on the village green as the sun shone and residents met up, some for the first time since before the coronaviurs began in March last year.

Attractions included a range of stalls, games, tug of war and a fun dog show.

Inside the village hall was a produce show with vegetables, flower arrangements, cakes and art.

The stallholders included Maz Elsome, who was selling her Made by M.E handmade decorations.

She started making things during the lockdown and now it has become a small business.

She said: “It’s great to be back with everyone. It was weird not having the fete last year and the village was like a ghost town.”

Woodcote Pre-School, which meets at the hall, was running a tombola and raffle to raise funds. It also had a competition to throw a ball through a wooden pig’s mouth and to guess the name of the pig.

Other stallholders included Woodcote Conservation Group, Woodcote Volunteers, the Friends of Woodcote Primary School, who ran a welly wanging competition, the Nettlebed branch of the Royal British Legion and Woodcote Rally, which was cancelled both last year and this.

St Leonard’s Church held a raffle to raise funds as it struggled financially during the lockdowns with no services and some older people still not feeling comfortable to return. The bells of the church in South Stoke Road were rung at noon to open the fete.

Jennie Kettell, from Reading, was trying to raise money to buy a coffee van which she will use to provide work and training for school leavers with learning difficulties. So far, she has raised half of her £10,000 target. There were silly races with no rules, including hoola hoop and sack races. There were categories for children, mummies, aunties and grannies and daddies, uncles and grandads.

Children’s entertainer Jester Giggles presided over the dog show.

Susannah Lovegrove, 48, whose Romanian rescue dog Napoleon came third in the tail wagging category, said she had missed the fete last year, adding: “It’s really nice to see everyone — it feels almost normal.”

Joanne Lillywhite, who has helped to organise the fete since 2015, said: “There has been a buzz around the village because it was coming back this year. The other big summer event, the Woodcote Rally, was cancelled, so this is all we have.

“We may not be the prettiest village, but when everyone comes together like this it’s amazing.”

Designer Marta Ciruelos, 30, who moved to Woodcote just before the first lockdown, said: “It’s great — this is the first time I’ve really seen people in the village. For the last two years it has felt like there’s no one really here so this is amazing.”

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