A “MINI” regatta could become an annual event in Wallingford after a councillor described the town’s Jubilee celebrations as a “wash-out”.

Councillor Giles Cattermole hopes to start a new summer event with rowing, sailing, swimming and fireworks after his disappointment with the town council’s working group for axing the Jubilee fireworks and flotilla.

The working group received concerns from residents about the impact on wildlife such as swans and cygnets.

READ MORE: 'People were disappointed in Jubilee events', says councillor

However Mr Cattermole said the decision was “nonsense” and planned to host his own fireworks and flotilla without the council’s support but this also had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

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Now, the councillor hopes to organise a new regatta without the council’s support to compensate for the weekend.

“It’s too late to celebrate the jubilee now,” he said. “But we could a smaller Regatta in the summer with some rowing, some sailing, and some swimming.

“Maybe we could even do fireworks and a flotilla then. I think that’s a possibility, but it depends on how much interest it gets from people.

“I wouldn’t do it with the council though, I would organise it independently.”

Mayor Marcus Harris, who was referred to the South Oxfordshire District Council monitoring officer along with two others by Mr Cattermole for the cancellation of the fireworks, said he supports the idea of a regatta.

Herald Series: Mayor Marcus HarrisMayor Marcus Harris

READ MORE: Councillor to host private firework display after colleagues axe Jubilee display

He had hoped the fireworks and flotilla, which were described as postponed, would be held later in the summer regardless of who takes the lead in organising it.

“We're delighted with anybody that wants to set up an event like this,” he said. “I've said for a long time that a regatta could easily become an annual event and should be done in support of one of our local water based charities who could be taking the lead in part in it.

“As a council we're very committed to seeing this event happen now whether that happens as a voluntary event supported by the council, or a voluntary event not supported by the council, I’m just keen to see that we celebrate the last event of the Jubilee.

“Hopefully we establish a good, fun, safe, interesting event at an appropriate time of year that will be something we can repeat for many years to come.”

There is already a Wallingford Regatta, which dates back to 1861, but it has been held at Dorney Lake in Eton since 2001 due to river conditions causing problems and calls for larger facilities.

READ MORE: Jubilee fireworks postponed after residents express concerns for wildlife

The councillors believe there will be no conflict of issue between the two events.

Geoff Brown, captain of Wallingford Rowing Club, said: "For many years Wallingford Regatta was held on the river here until it outgrew the space available.

"It is now held at the Olympic venue of Eton Dorney in early May where it has become one of the biggest single day regattas in the UK.

"Two other rowing events are held on the river at Wallingford every year: the Long Distance Sculls (this year on October 1) and Wallingford Head Race (this year on November 27), which see hundreds of boats competing against the clock. 

"We would welcome any discussion about improving interest or participation in a sport we are deeply passionate about."


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This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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