WALLINGFORD’s pancake race has been saved from a knock-out after a boxing club stepped in.

The event was set to be cancelled after three decades when its organiser, the town’s Lions club, folded due to lack of a new members, as reported in the Herald last week.

But after reading of the race’s possible demise in the Wallingford Herald, John Houston, owner of South Moreton Boxing Club, threw his hat into the ring, pledging to take over the running of the Shrove Tuesday race — and promising to make it bigger than ever.

There was more good news at Wallingford Town Council on Monday night when members heard volunteers had stepped forward to save the town’s Christmas bazaar which faced demise as it was also run by the Lions.

However, a saviour is still needed for the town’s annual charity raft race.

Boxing trainer Mr Houston, who has already raised £25,000 for good causes since he set up Oxfordshire’s only white collar boxing club three years ago, said: “I saw the story on the front of last week’s Herald and it’s another thing I can help raise some money for.

“I really don’t want to see the event disappear, it’s important to keep these traditions going in Wallingford and it’s something we can keep going. It’s also a bit sporty and it’s just the type of event we want to support.”

The 38-year-old has re-styled the race ‘The Quest for the Golden Frying Pan’ and disclosed the winner would be presented with a golden frying pan, engraved with their name. Participants will follow the usual tradition of racing around the town in a bid to complete as many laps as possible in ten minutes, flipping their pancake at least twice. Mr Houston, of St John’s Road, Wallingford, said Waitrose and long-serving sponsors Rowse Honey would back the event.

Of the money raised, 20 per cent will go to Warborough- based Footsteps Foundation, which helps children and young adults with neuro-motor disorders to develop and maximise their physical abilities. Participants can choose which charity will receive the rest of their money.

Mr Houston: “I want the event to grow and keep it a fixture and maybe make it bigger and jazzier.”

Former Lions Club secretary Alan Kings said: “It’s good that it’s still running.

“They haven’t got long to organise it, but as long as it keeps it going in some form for this year.”

Andrew Rogers, clerk to Wallingford Town Council, said: “The town council is absolutely delighted that the pancake race is continuing because it’s an integral part of the events calendar in Wallingford.

“There is certainly some enthusiasm towards making sure some of the other events do continue.”

This year’s event will take place on February 24 in the Market Square. Anyone who wants to enter a team should call Mr Houston on 07981 328326.

People who would like to volunteers to help organise other events should contact Wallingford Town Council on 01491 835373.

l Wallingford Freshers’ Fair takes place on Saturday, January 24, at Wallingford Town Hall between 10am and 1pm where anyone looking to support events hosted by local groups and organisations can get involved and find out more.

As previously reported in the Wallingford Herald, the fair has been organised by town councillor Dee Cripps, also deputy mayor, to encourage more people to get involved in the organisation of town events.

Ms Cripps said: “We are looking to our supporters, partners and attendees to help us spread the word about the freshers’ fair in order to grow this important network of helpers for future generations.”