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Rain casts a gloomy corner on Pooh Sticks
ORGANISERS are keeping their fingers crossed one of Britain’s best quirky events won’t be flooded off on its 30th anniversary this weekend.
Winnie the Pooh fans are set to line up for their favourite game at the World Pooh Sticks Championships in Little Wittenham on Sunday.
The contest attracts visitors from around the world to take part in the game played by characters in AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories.
But the event may have to be cancelled if river levels are too high for a safety boat to be floated on the river.
The river is currently red flagged, meaning the Environment Agency is advising boats not to sail. It said the warning was likely to remain in place over the weekend.
The river level at Day’s Lock was 3.5 metres high yesterday, which falls just within it’s normal height of between 2.02 and 3.77 metres.
The Thames at Days Lock has been on flood alert since Sunday, meaning flooding is possible.
Up to 20mm of rain is expected by Sunday with the worst showers expected to be about 15mm tomorrow.
The event was cancelled in 2010 because of high river levels. A decision is being made by organisers in consultation with the Environment Agency tomorrow.
During the event competitors line up on a bridge to race coloured and marked sticks in the River Thames in heats and a final.
It is played each spring at Days Lock, Little Wittenham.
The contest was voted readers’ favourite quirky event at the Countryfile magazine awards last year.
Run by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires, organisers are celebrating the event’s 30th anniversary.
Rotary Club president Lesley Adams said: “We have our fingers crossed that flooding won’t hamper our plans, because if we can’t get our safety boat on the river we can’t run the event. It should, hopefully, be fine though.”
Ms Adams said the event could not be held later in the summer because of increased river traffic.
The championship has attracted up to 1,500 people in previous years.
Event organiser, Munro Watt from Cholsey, said competitors had previously come as far away as New Zealand for the event.
Registration for the event opens from 11am to 1.15am, with the solo competition launching at 11.30am ahead of the teams.
Money raised goes to charities supported by the rotary club including Vale House dementia care home in Sandford-on-Thames, Aspire Oxford supporting the disadvantaged in Oxford, and Little Wittenham Church.
lDid you take part in the first World Pooh Sticks Championships or one of the earliest competitions? Let reporter Katriona Ormiston know on 01865 425426 or email@example.com