Friday, 27 November 2015

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Droving organisers in Cumbria need volunteers

Organisers behind Penrith’s Winter Droving event are appealing for more people to get involved, after an initially disappointing response.

Droving photo
Last year’s Winter Droving event

Only five businesses attended a meeting on Thursday to offer their support to the scheme.

However Lisa Coates, a spokeswoman for the winter event, said there was little initial support during the build up to last year’s inaugural event but it eventually saw thousands of people come into town to watch or take part. The event included a magical fire, lantern and mask procession celebrating Eden’s community, businesses and agricultural heritage.

It was the highlight of the Penrith Winter Festival – which was set up in place of the traditional Christmas Lights switch-on event and ran from November 24 until December 31.

Lisa said further meetings were planned and it was important for individuals and businesses to pledge their support by the October 11 to help with planning the event.

She said: “It was really difficult to explain the event last year but now people have seen it and said it was so good. The winter festival will build and grow each year. We had the same problem last year. It’s like pulling teeth. it’s really difficult to get people to get involved. It’s a celebration of our town by people living and being from Penrith – they used to drove the animals through the town. That’s what makes it unique it’s made by local people.”

Lisa said that several “ambassadors” were going around Penrith, visiting businesses, in an effort to drum up more support and raise awareness.

Winter Droving in Penrith 2013 is due to take place on Saturday, November 30, and is organised by Eden Arts and supported by Penrith Chamber of Trade.

As well as business support Eden Arts want as many children as possible, as well as community groups or schools, to represent droving sheep in the procession by carrying lanterns and wearing sheep masks.

Rory Stewart, the MP for Penrith and the Border, described it as “the beginning of a 1000 year tradition” after taking part in last year’s procession.

Speaking at the time the MP said: “It really was a fantastic event – it’s great to see such an impressive turnout, where young families in particular could come to learn and celebrate what it means to live and grow up in this area.

“Given its success, I sincerely hope it is able to embed itself as a firm fixture in Penrith’s calendar, and I have no doubt it will be able to draw in increasing numbers with each successive year.”

It is estimated more than 500 people took part in the inaugural Winter Droving procession, including 200 carrying fire-burning torches, more than 130 musicians, community groups and members of the public.

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