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Royal opening for bumper Highclere Fete



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A BUMPER Highclere Fete raised more than £18,000 for the parish church at the weekend.

The event was opened by Prince Michael of Kent, who had been staying at Highclere Castle with Lord and Lady Carnarvon.

The fete’s regular attractions – bric-a-a-brac stall, plant sale, books, raffle – were in place in the church grounds, while extra stalls and further entertainment was put on in the field next door, owned by Philip and Sally Wrigley.

Chris Martin of Chris's Book Stall (57280525)
Chris Martin of Chris's Book Stall (57280525)

There was a display by Millets Falconry and a rescue dogs demonstration.

A line up of Harley-Davidson motorbikes and some classic cars proved popular, as were the two police cars on display from Hampshire Police.

Other attractions included football freestylers and fun dog shows, while the burger stall and beer and Pimm’s tent provided refreshments.

Thousands turned out for the event (57280529)
Thousands turned out for the event (57280529)

Music was provided by Apollo Big Band, the East Woodhay Silver Band, and a jazz group and VoxSonic choir.

The Highclere Church Fete committee wanted to make this their biggest and best event yet and the weather and turnout helped to make it a memorable day.

Mrs Wrigley said: “Loads of people have come and it’s just been a really happy occasion and everybody has said it’s been great.”

The East Woodhay Silver Band perform at the Highclere fete
The East Woodhay Silver Band perform at the Highclere fete
Rowena Lawrence (The Veterinary Hospital), Debbie Bain and her daughter Seely (9) with Rummy- 1st 'Handsomest Dog'. (57274733)
Rowena Lawrence (The Veterinary Hospital), Debbie Bain and her daughter Seely (9) with Rummy- 1st 'Handsomest Dog'. (57274733)

The couple decided to open their gardens for the fete because they wanted to support the church.

“There’s not much space in front of the church and we’re their neighbours.”

Commenting on the amazing turnout, Mr Wrigley said they were “delighted” and that the village had never “done anything on this scale” before.

Jon Harris with his Harley Dyna Wide Glide. (57274732)
Jon Harris with his Harley Dyna Wide Glide. (57274732)

“I’m sure there are things we could’ve done differently, but we’ll get feedback and go again next year.”

The biggest suprise for the organisers was the arrival of Prince Michael, who kindly agreed to open the fete.

Mr Wrigley said: “It made it extra special.”

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent opened the event
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent opened the event

He added that Lord and Lady Carnarvon are always hugely supportive and the village was fortunate that celebrity chef Clodagh McKenna had agreed to judge the baking competition.

Ms McKenna awarded the winning cake prize to a royal crown baked by Highclere resident Melanie Davies.

Mrs Davies, a retired cookery teacher, said it took her two days to bake and she had got up at 5am that morning to add the finishing touches. “I haven’t done something like that for some time and I’m not sure I’ll be doing it again!”

Vox Sonic choir
Vox Sonic choir
The winning cake in the bake sale (57280527)
The winning cake in the bake sale (57280527)

Over on the burger stall, with catering equipment supplied by the Red House in Highclere and meat from Griffiths Butchers, trade was brisk.

Mark Bartholomew, who was manning the card machine, said he had “never been so busy in my life”.

There was brisk trade going on at the church stalls too. Chris Martin, who was on bookstall duty, said: “It’s been nice and steady and not too frantic.” Churchwarden Carole Grover, who was selling bric-a-brac, said the day had gone “very well”.

Clodagh McKenna with cake competition winner Melanie Davies and husband Pete Davies, who won the bread competition
Clodagh McKenna with cake competition winner Melanie Davies and husband Pete Davies, who won the bread competition

Ms Grover added: “We’ve had a very good time.

“The fete is vital because it brings the church to people and makes you realise what the church is for.”



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