Wheels come off as Boxing Day pram race gets the push

A hugely popular annual Lancashire Boxing Day pram race has been cancelled.

Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 10:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 4:10 pm
Fun-filled: The hooter sounds to start the 2014 pram race

The Christmas event, in the village of Longridge, has taken place for the past 36 years – but organisers say a shortage of volunteers as well as concerns over safety has prompted their decision.

Longridge Field day committee president Bill Houghton said the decision to cancel the popular race – which has raised thousands of pounds for the field day and various charities – “has not been arrived at without some soul searching”.

He added that he hopes another organisation might still be able to take it on.

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He said issues surrounding health and safety, insurance, policing and event management of the race had all combined to make it more and more difficult to stage.

The race takes in the majority of the town’s pubs, as teams of up to six people race around the streets in fancy dress with their ‘prams’.

Last year it was cancelled at the last minute due to storms.

Mr Houghton described the pram race as one of the “highlights” of the town calendar and said the field day committee would like to apologise to the Lovatt Family, who instigated the race more than 36 years ago, for its cancellation.

He said: “We are so sorry to see it finish.”

Mr Houghton said the committee had always “policed” the race themselves, but with the rise of health and safety issues, said they were always “on edge” until its end, as they never knew what was going to happen.

As to insurance, Mr Houghton said the problem wasn’t the cost, as they had cover for the full year, but if an accident occurred with a vehicle causing damage or injury, there was “a bit of a grey area.”

Mr Houghton said 12 people had been needed to organise the race, with a further four required the following day to clean up, but there are only up to eight members on the committee.

The absence of race will also leave a large hole in field day funds and Mr Houghton said talks are already under way to see how they can cover the shortfall.

The race raises between £2,000 to £3,000 each year, which is split between field day and a good cause.

Last year the race was cancelled at the 11th hour due to flooding, but the previous year, more than 250 people took part.

Race supporter and former mayor Hilda Marle Collis said: “I am sorry to hear about the pram race but I am not surprised as supervising these things takes time...and no-one wants to take them over.”

“It has been a good part of our history and the young ones enjoyed it.”