Oxford rotary club steps in to save Pooh Sticks championship previously run bya Wallingford rotary club

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Pooh Sticks — the Wallingford-run event which has been seen on television all over the world to illustrate the eccentricities of the English — has been saved.

Wallingford's Sinodun Rotary Club, which gave notice last year it would not be running it in future after 20 years in the driving seat, has found a group to take it over.

The next championships in March next year will be run by Oxfordshire's newest Rotary Club, Oxford Spires.

Sinodun president David Caswell said: "We said we would do everything we could to find someone to take over from us because the World Pooh Sticks Championship is a much-loved day out for hundreds of people.

"We have had winners from all over the world. And we have been on television in the USA, Russia, Japan, Australia, the Czech Republic and many other countries.

"I suppose it shows off to perfection the eccentricities of the English which always seem to fascinate other people."

Pooh Sticks follows the game author AA Milne devised for his most famous character, Winnie the Pooh. It involves standing on a bridge, dropping sticks into the water on one side and the winner is the one whose stick emerges first on the other side. The simple game attracts hundreds of people from all over the world to Day's Lock on the River Thames.

Sinodun Rotary took it over from the man who started it all, Lyn Davis who was lock-keeper at the lock at Little Wittenham.

Mr Davis started it to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution by charging a penny a stick.

When he retired, Rotary took it on after an appeal was launched for new organisers and it has raised thousands of pounds for the RNLI.

Mr Caswell said: "After almost 20 years we found that it was getting harder to do as members were getting older and there was still a lot of heavy lifting involved in setting up the event. We said last year would be our last but we have done everything to make sure the event would carry on.

"Now Oxfordshire's youngest Rotary Club, Oxford Spires, will run the next one on Sunday, March 29, next year and, depending on how it goes, will carry on in future years.

"So we are delighted this wonderful, happy family day out will continue and we are committed to doing everything we can to support the Oxford Spires Rotary Club in planning and running next year's championships."

Liz Williamson, president of the Oxford club, said: "We are really excited to be taking on this event.

"As the county's newest and youngest club we are keen to build on Sinodun's hard work over the years and also to add our own inspiration and enthusiasm."

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