Popular Poohsticks returns after washout

Oxford Spires Rotary president Michael Saunders

Oxford Spires Rotary president Michael Saunders

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

IT was made famous by Winnie the Pooh and attracts hundreds of participants each year – it’s time for the World Poohsticks Championship.

The annual event, which involves people dropping a stick from a bridge and following it downstream, will take place in Little Wittenham, near Abingdon, on Sunday.

It will come as a big relief to fans, after last year’s event was cancelled due to heavy rain.

Michael Saunders, president of the Oxford Spires Rotary Club said: “Everything is going ahead fine.

“There are two weeks to go and the river is looking good, preparations are going well and we are all hoping it will be a fantastic day.”

The championships began in 1983 when a lock keeper noticed walkers recreating Pooh’s pastime on the River Thames. It soon took off and for the past 28 years, the vent has attracted up to 3,000 people every year.

Organiser Karen Eveleigh, from the Oxford Spires Rotary Club, said: “This year we are expecting at least 20 teams of four people and then maybe 800 individual competitors.

“Together with all the spectators, that will make around 2,000 people on the banks of the River Thames.”

Heats and finals will be held during the day to determine the world and team champion.

There will also be stalls, games, refreshments and a BBQ.

Miss Eveleigh said: “We have tried to keep everything like it would have been in a traditional village fete.”

Attractions will include a coconut shy and fancy dress.

Money raised will go towards the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Little Wittenham Church and charities supported by the rotary clubs.

Competitors have come from as far away as the United States of America, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

Miss Eveleigh added: “It is just a good fun day out for the whole family so even if it is wet, we want to encourage people to come along.

“And people don’t need to bring their own sticks. We have hundreds of coloured sticks that people can pick up on the day.”

Teams are asked to register with the Rotary Club before the event.

For more information and to register, visit pooh-sticks.com or call 07910 318878.

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