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Pram-packed event creates new record at Pagham’s annual antics

A PRAM-TASTIC achievement saw more entrants than ever take part in Pagham’s Boxing Day traditional fun.

 

The 234 individuals ensured the Boxing Day pram race lived up to its status as the world’s longest running event of its kind.

 

Wednesday’s antics were the 73rd to be held – and continued the history of mixing the unlikelist of characters – from The Beatles to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and pirates to Barbie dolls.

 

It was The Fab Four who claimed the number one spot as their classic animated film, Yellow Submarine, made waves among the 54 entries.

 

John, Paul, George and Ringo and their look of ’68 were recreated by local residents Len Cooper, Christopher Pigden, Tom Sprule and Mark Gordon to claim top prize in the fancy dress category.

 

The 50th anniversary of the film with its clutch of famous songs prompted the entry. Its timeless quality was shown as the fellow competitors sung the title song as the team collected their prize.

 

Len said: “The film was a cartoon, which gave us a few challenges for the characters. So we decided to become The Beatles with the help of some home-made costumes.

 

“It has been great fun. It was great to hear everyone singing the words of the song.”

 

It was his 14th year of taking part and the first time he had clinched a top prize after several second and third places.

 

“It’s nice to get the recognition for what we’ve done and certainly makes the effort worthwhile but it’s all about the day, the community and raising money for charity,” he said.

 

The race showed the allure of wearing fancy dress and downing pints of beer at The Lion, The Lamb and the Pagham Beach Cafe along the three-mile route remained as strong as ever.

 

Several thousand spectators again lined the course and it was hoped by the organisers the bucket collection would top £3,000 for the first time. This will be added to the proceeds from a series of events during the year to take the total raised for good causes in the area to some £15,000.

 

Organising committee vice-chairman Tim Holland is the longest-serving of those involved at 42 years.

 

He said: “It has again been a successful year. The race has got its own momentum and gets better and better every year.

 

“We have tried to improve things but we don’t want to lose the fact the race is a bit of fun around the houses on Boxing Day.”

 

The race, as usual, was split between those determined to finish in the fastest time of around 15 minutes and those whose fancy dress was more important.

 

First home were Bromley couple Sarah and Andy Milne, both 39, as Team Mexico. Sarah grew up on the nearby Aldwick Bay Estate and was determined to beat her brother’s second place after being unplaced on her previous attempt.

 

“My motivation was to beat my brother and it feels amazing to have done that,” she said. Andy said: “The last stretch was awesome. Seeing all the family there was really good.”

 

The first women to finish were Mario and Luigi, 18-year-old debutants, and Pagham residents Alice Cox-Rusbridge and Jennifer Harmsworth. Jennifer said: “This is the first year we have been able to take part and we wanted to win it.”

 

Princess Fifi, aka Fiona Wilson, of Bosham, pictured middle right, celebrated her 60th birthday in style – on top of a pram pushed by Ollie and Nick Wilson – and being serenaded by the crowd when they collected their trophies..

 

She said: “Coming to watch the race was my Boxing Day treat as a child.”

 

The 11-strong Baz Cabs team commemorated the life of Bognor Regis man Barry Atkinson, 76, who died on Christmas Day last year. His daughters, Kim Chaffey, 52, and Kirstee Porter, 43, were among those who ran.

 

Kim said: “He used to come to the pram race every year and we have done it a few times. He said Boxing Day was always his favourite day of the year.”

 

Kirstee said: “It was brilliant to take part in my dad’s memory. He would have absolutely loved it and would have thought it was fun.”

 

Australian couple Jo, 42, and Mark Wiseman, travelled 12,500 miles from Perth to take part with Mark’s best friend, Pagham Cricket Club chairman Gary Young, 53, as cricketing kangaroos.

 

Mark, 55, said: “I come from Bognor Regis so I know about the race. This time last year we were sitting in 38C heat on the beach. It was well worth coming here.

 

“The community feeling, the atmosphere and the participation has been fantastic.”

 

Fastest: 1 – Team Mexico (Sarah & Andy Milne), 2 – Calm Down, Calm Down (Ben Archer, Nathan Archer, Lucy Archer, Rikki Mace & Bethany Mercer), 3 – Marvel (Jaime Archer & Mike McCarron).

 

Ladies: 1 – Mario & Luigi (Alice Cox-Rusbridge & Jennifer Harmsworth), 2 – Where’s Wally?(Kathy Boltwood, Laura Brown, Angela Hopper, Sharon Sheppard, Becky Dunbar & Rachel Pawley), 3 – Mad Scientists (Kathy Rimmer & Amanda de Ridder).

 

Pub: The Lion.

 

Novelty: 1 – Red Sparrows, 2 – Rose Green Junior School (Mary Poppins), 3 – Barbie and Ken.

 

Fancy Dress: 1 – The Beatles, 2 – Get Me Out Of Here, 3 – Michael Jackson, 4 – Princess Fifi.

 

Dennis Doughty Shield: Princess Fifi.

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