Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Could there be a more bizarre event?

THERE are moments during the summer months when I can’t help but think my job is sometimes completely ridiculous.

One of those moments came on Monday evening, as I chased after Oompa Loompas, Smurfs and Batman and Robin, among others, being pushed in trolleys and prams along the seafront, desperate for a good photo.

It was, of course, the Wheeled Derby - one of Lyme’s most loved, traditional summertime events.

For those who have never seen this bizarre spectacle, you’ve been missing out. Pairs race from The Ship Inn in Coombe Street into town and along the seafront - one on some kind of wheels and one pushing - stopping at each pub on the way to drink half a pint - all in fancy dress.

It sounds even more ridiculous trying to describe it. I can’t help but wonder what visitors must think when they see two lads in just their pants whiz past them in a pram, pint in hand, while they take a quiet stroll along Marine Parade.

Along with Lifeboat Week’s Bathtub Race, the Wheeled Derby, which goes back to the 1960s when it was known as the Pram Derby and entrants dresed up as mother and baby, is one of my favourite annual events.

Both require me to dash along the seafront after participants, although I’m not really fit enough for it - Marine Parade seems so much longer when you’re running it!

During last year’s Wheeled Derby I was repeatedly hit with an inflatable mallet by two contestants dressed as pirates. They thought I was another entrant trying to ovetake them, despite me explaining “I’m press, I’m press!” as I ran after them.

This year there was no such attack, although I was, disappointingly, completely out-run by the Lyme Regis News’ photographer! Unlike the Bathtub Race, I have never taken part in the Wheeled Derby, as I’m not sure my beer-drinking skills are up for it.

My dad says you’re not a real Lyme Boy if you haven’t taken part (I did try to explain I was a Lyme Girl, not a boy!) and said he would love to take part again alongside me and my older sister, Zoe. I think we would have to start training now!

Congratulations to this year’s 32 participants for keeping the traditonal event alive, particularly winners Samuel Cooke (who has now won the race several times) and Adam Ding, and fancy dress winners Annette Denning and Kelly Quick, who were dressed as Oompa Loompas.

The derby has definitely been the highlight of Regatta and Carnival Week so far, with plenty more events scheduled for the coming five days.

What a shame the Walk of Light torchlight procession had to be cancelled on Sunday evening due to the high winds but please note the event has been rescheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) at 9pm, starting at the Langmoor Gardens entrance, with torches going on sale from 8.30pm.

As I write this on Tuesday morning, we in the office are preparing for Lyme’s Got Talent, organised by my dad on behalf on the Regatta and Carnival Committee. It’s going to be a sell-out show with what looks like another great line-up following on from last year’s success.

The View From staff are also looking forward to taking part in the Grand Carnival Procession on Saturday night. Look out for our Smart cars and vans as we’ll be handing out balloons to all the youngsters.

Last year I took part in Bridport Carnival but I don’t think I’ve been in the Lyme event since I was 15 - seven years ago - as a member of Lyme Regis Football Club’s ladies team, the Lazers.

We all dressed up as strawberries to promote our fundraising campaign to move the clubhouse to Strawberry Field, which as many will know did not go ahead, but we had great fun kicking footballs down the main street - although my control skills weren’t up to scratch.

That was the last time the football club entered the carnival, but this year the boys will be taking part in their new pink away kit - very manly!

The Regatta and Carnival Committee are expecting lots of entries in this year’s procession, and if you’re thinking of taking part I would definitely encourage you to do it.

Good luck to the Regatta and Carnival Committee for the remainder of their special week!

Summertime in Lyme won’t be the same without Phil

I WAS saddened this week to hear the news that town crier Phil Street will be leaving Lyme Regis next month to take up a promotion in France.

Not only is Phil town crier, but he is a popular local character, chairman of the Lyme Regis and St George’s Twinning Association, co-organiser of the spectacular Candles on the Cobb and a regular in local ameteur dramatic performances.

He has also helped in raising thousands for local and national charities over the years, particularly through acting as auctioneer at numerous harvest homes alongside deputy harbourmaster Mike Higgs.

I must bump into Phil almost every week, particularly during the summer, as he takes part in so many events that I cover for the View From Lyme Regis and he’s always willing to pose for a photo - summertime in Lyme just won’t be the same without him.

We at the View wish Phil the best of luck in his new position and home. I’m sure he will be greatly missed in the town.

I also hope that the traditional post of town crier continues in Lyme Regis. Phil has been a wonderful representative of the town and, hopefully, someone just as proud to do the job will step forward for the post.

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