2013 May Fairs

Allendale Fair, 1st June, 2013

Although the Hexham Courant archives only thumbnails of historical images, we will have to be satisfied with these small ‘blasts from the past’ (which helpfully identify each individual photographed) as Nigel Baynes’ archive came to a stop at the end of 2012.

At the business meeting during the first week of June, the reports from the Fair were overwhelmingly positive, and indeed, it was a bright sunny day! This was the first time that the Striders had used the Village Hall as their staging area for the race, which was becoming an annual feature of the Fair. All went well throughout the day, and it seemed that everybody was as thrilled as the Lions were exhausted!

In particular, the work of Diane Butcher in the behind-the-scenes organisation and social media presence was commended by the Club. Apparently I got to be on Radio Newcastle in the morning, to chat about the Fair Day, but I’m afraid I cannot remember that at all! Thanks to the minutes of our Business Meeting, which in fact are a goldmine of hidden treasures from our golden days as a club.

There would be a Handover Party, scheduled soon at the General Havelock Inn in Haydon Bridge, when retiring President Richard Snowdon would hand over the chain of office to incoming President Sylvia Milburn. Meanwhile, money from the Fair was still flowing into the Lions charity account, and the capacity of the club to support good causes was being strengthened.

2013 Charter Events (annual) Creating the Blogsite May Fairs

Publicity for the Fair, 2013

There aren’t many images around these days, or not that I can elicit anyway, of the 2013 Allendale Fair, but Peter Aldcroft kindly forwards this colourful poster outlining all the wonderful events that were anticipated. I imagine that this image will jog a few memories of that day.

In particular, I can’t fathom what a ‘Barra Bash’ is. The minutes of our May Business Meeting suggest that I, or somebody with initials LW, was actually pictured in a barra on the front page of the Hexham Courant, and on an inside Fair Feature page, but I have no recollection of this! I hope somebody will be able to illuminate this odd lapse of memory.

At any rate, as Margaret Stonehouse had suggested, the Fair was certainly shaping up to be a brilliant event, and I hope that the weather was kind.

This seems like as good a time as any to chat a bit about where this social history blog is going. The Allendale Lions blog here at has trundled along quite cheerfully, so far, picking up on Nigel Baynes’ voluminous archive of printed images and press cuttings that he stored carefully in big binders. It seems that the pressure of work in the evolving Baynes Travel empire may have overwhelmed the ambition to keep the archive going, by the end of 2012, and so in the absence of such a treasure trove of images, the blog itself is coming to a crashing halt. No doubt there are hundreds if not thousands of images stored in a variety of Lions Club members’ smartphones and digital cameras, but as is the way of things, this new technology means that it’s not as easy to retrieve them as if they were collated into a yearly archive in a physical binder. Thank you Nigel, for preserving for us such a collection that we’ve been able to present, latterly, in electronic format.

Never mind though about the next decade, the challenging teen years of the club, as we’ve worked on a strategy to preserve something of our original golden years, in a convenient and accessible physical volume. If we can make it, by accumulating enough intriguing snippets of memory from the Business Meeting minutes of 2013, such that we arrive via this blog at 2014 and the tenth anniversary of our Charter Night, then it’s possible that a substantial picture book of this first golden decade might be created.

Similar in size to the eponymous Allendale Diary, but this time in full colour throughout, this book, if indeed it can be cobbled together through the auspices of, may yet be a treasure itself that will repay dipping into from time to time, reacquainting its readers with some of the fun and experiences we had during this period. In a convenient format, anyway.

That’s the current idea, and there are about 9 or so more entries to round out 2013 and bring us to our tenth anniversary.

2012 May Fairs

Allendale Fair 2012

There was something about Georgina Welton that captured that special moment in the life of Allendale Fair. The 2012 May Fair (almost always held in June, of course) was at least the second fair in which the main photograph printed by the Hexham Courant, in its reprise of all the action, featured George in full performance mode on the karaoke. But then, dressed up as the Queen, what better way to capture the photographer’s attention! As it was, Anna Harrison took home the top prize in the Junior Karaoke Final, though it was inevitable that George again received the Jock McConnochie trophy for her presentation.

It was cool, too, to see the delightful feature on the Allendale scarecrows sharing the page. Such a lot of interesting things happened in 2012 in the vibrant village!

A lot of the effort in the 2012 fair was put toward raising funds for Josie’s Dragonfly Trust, a local charity set up by Josie’s parents in 2007 after she died at the age of 16 from cancer. [Today, in 2023, the Dragonfly Trust is a nationwide charity dealing with the fallout of terminal cancer diagnosis, and palliative care, for children and young adults up to the age of 25, and their family members].

As local reporter Robert Gibson noted, the now-traditional Allen Valley Striders race, and fun run, as well as the Strong Man competition, complemented the Karaoke Finals on Fair Day.

But the Fair, celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, had more in store, with an Allendale Churches Together coffee morning in the marquee, and a performance by the Dale Singers, on Sunday.

Monday saw an Arts and Crafts session for the youngsters, and then a shared Scarecrow Stomp in the village hall to round off the Scarecrow Competition.

It all seemed like a special weekend within a cohesive and friendly community, even though, as Nigel Baynes thoughtfully noted, it really was a freezing day outside.

Not a problem for the warm hearts that populated the square, of course.

2012 May Fairs

Preparations for the Fair, 2012

Ah yes, that was the year of the Golden Jubilee, wasn’t it? Sixty years of the reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and of course, the Allen Valley Drama Group were not going to let such an opportunity pass by without comment.

So their big presentation, Saturday evening of the big Fair Day (itself only one day out of the four day weekend fest), was to be ’60 Years of Allendale’. The show promised to be so great they had to put it on twice!

As Margaret Stonehouse had mentioned at our Business Meeting beginning of April, things were indeed well in hand for the festivities. I also remember a big cake, created by Carrie at Allendale Bakery, in the shape and decoration of a huge royal postage stamp, which was cut and distributed to everyone in the square at some point. No doubt the baking effort started shortly after the appearance of this full-page advertising feature in the Hexham Courant.

The Courant did try to be beneficent towards Allendale, featuring salient images from previous fairs with a nod towards the coming event. Of course, the full page was paid for by all the enterprises advertising their wares and services, but the space for publicity, the column inches within the page, was always golden.

How much we depended on the local paper, and how eager we were to see what was news, every Thursday late afternoon, so that some of us were there at the MarketPlace waiting for the delivery of the wrapped parcels, the bundles of some 600 papers (can you believe it!) and the kind opening of the first one by Elsie.

Those days were magical, really, and it’s not just me who fondly remembers them, I’m sure. As immediate and in-your-face as the social media of 2023 is (the perspective from which I’m writing), it feels like there’s something missing today that we had in abundance, if we only recognised it, back in the day.

2012 Fundraising May Fairs

The Karaoke Heats are on . . .

Davy Humes sent along these delightful images of a Karaoke Heat in action at a local pub, in response to my plea for images of Lions activities from 2012 onwards. I like them because they’re so of the moment.

Not a huge crowd, perhaps, but fun nevertheless. I think it’s these sorts of images, fuzzy, blurred and full of life, that help to encapsulate the ambience of those times. The great thing about the Karaoke Heats, so many of which I missed, was the developing buzz, the sense of enthusiasm looking ahead to the final in the square on Fair Day. And that sense was such a wonderful word-of-mouth promotion that today’s facebook PR cannot quite replace.

But times do change, and what worked well back in the late winter of 2012 might founder a decade or more hence. Isn’t it a delight, though, to remember those times, even while everything as I write is in the final frenzy of preparing for the 2023 Allendale Fair (ie the 22nd of July!).

2011 Fundraising May Fairs Public Service

Great North Air Ambulance: Cheque #1

The Hexham Courant’s District News pages for the 5th August, 2011 issue, featured another cheque presenting opportunity, as Margaret Stonehouse, Chairman of the Fair, and Richard Snowdon, President of the Allendale Lions, showed off the funding said to have been realised from that year’s Fair (that would have been the Noddy one).

I can’t remember a May Fair ever raising such large amounts of cash, and yet the reporting may have been correct. Certainly the raffle was a big money-spinner, always, and the revenue from the stalls and the karaoke was consistent.

Moreover, by the beginning of September, the Charity Account funds still stood at £3,572.49, as reported by Treasurer Doug Ness, and that was after the cheque had gone out to the GNAA, but before the annual Charity Auction which always raised in the region of £3,000+.

I rather suspect, hand-on-heart, that the GNAA cheque of 2011 was a carry-over from the fund-raising efforts of the previous year gone.

2011 May Fairs

Pre-Fair Publicity, 2011

The publicity machine was cranking along as normal in the run-up to the annual Allendale May Fair, held, typically, on the first weekend of June. It’s intriguing, as always with these promotions, to consider the different enterprises wishing the organisers all the best.

We’d discovered with an early (1932) tourist booklet promoting ‘The Roman Wall District’ in an entry of the eponymous, that few if any of the businesses advertised at those times are still trading today. But considering the date of this primary source compendium of active businesses, it’s a delight to clock that a good number are still active as we compile this archive, more than a decade later. My count is ten of the twenty 2011 advertisers are still with us in 2023.

Anyway, the theme for the 2011 Fair was to be Noddy and the Toy Town residents, I guess. The Drama Group this year was expecting to perform a major component of the Fair, with shows on all three days featuring Bobby and Big Boots.

In fact, I can’t remember a single thing from the 2011 Fair. Perhaps we were too busy struggling to survive down at Allen Mill, by that time. I hope a careful trawl through the Business Meeting minutes before and after the Fair will yield up some priceless nuggets of information about the actual event; there are no contemporary photographs of the day in Nigel Baynes’ wonderful archive, which is dwindling to an end.

2010 May Fairs

The Sunday Sun’s feature on the May Fair, 2010

Somehow, I’m not quite sure how, Nigel Baynes’ B Factor managed a surreptitious appearance in the photograph of Steve Roll, second place finisher of the Strongest Man competition. So that was a clever bit of advertising placement, wasn’t it!

Meanwhile, no doubt the organisers of the Hexham Regatta were a bit dumbfounded to see their event relegated to a little bit of text at the end of the Allendale Fair piece, which really showcased the Children’s Race organised by the Allen Valley Striders. So cute!

It was always great fun to see what post-event write-ups came along after the May Fair, and the publicity from the Lions’ 2010 event was no exception. Clearly, however, as the little yellow arrow indicates, online content was making an inroad into the print media.

How times change, and how we enjoy reminiscing about the times past while accepting that things do move on.

2010 May Fairs

The Courant’s Feature on the Fair, 2010

The Hexham Courant sent its local reporter Rebecca Dixon along to try to capture some of the excitement of the fair. From the blurb, it’s clear she did manage to chat with a few folks, including Stephanie Thompson from Durham on the karaoke heat and Simon Morton from Haltwhistle on the Strongest Man competition.

Additionally, she got a quote from Robbie Loraine from Wickham who won the children’s race, and Raymond Jaffrey from Hawick who took gold in the 8km Fun Run. So she reported well, but what must have been Sheila Baynes’ additions to the longest T-shirt went unremarked, though the photographer caught Cordelia Harrison in the newer yellow section. I don’t think the Guinness invigilator ever agreed that the T-shirt really was the longest contiguously occupied, but it was certainly fun to have been a part of it.

The image most of us will chuckle over, though, as we think back to that May Fair (held, as bemused as residents were, in the first weekend of June), has to be that of Nigel Baynes struggling with his aplomb (never really a challenge, that!) as he announced the fair events and marshalled the dancers from his wheelchair with his broken ankle on display for all to marvel at.

I was there, back from a school run to see Nigel on the ground, his face white, while he was being kept warm while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. How he missed more serious damage with the chainsaw he’d been brandishing, nobody ever figured out.

That was, however, the beginning of a long odyssey of recovery which eventually got him back into the ranks of Allendale’s Retained Fire Fighting Service. As I recall, the worst of that recovery was the enforced cessation of his smoking habit, about which in any event he was rather circumspect.

Anyway, as with all things in Allendale, the show must go on, and go on it did.

2010 May Fairs

The Fair Pet Show Preview

Typically, as I recall, the Hexham Courant helped out on the publicity front by running content pieces to accompany the advertising feature the Lions Club purchased. Although I found this clipping tucked in with others from the 2010 May Fair, the text suggests that it may have been an earlier year, as it was possibly the first time that the longest continuous T-shirt was attempted. Until I’m informed otherwise, however, this entry can stay as part of the publicity for the 2010 fair.

Anyway, this one itemised just a few salient events scheduled for the Fair, of which the Pet Show was a brilliant image to conjure with.

As I recall, June Thompson took over the Village Shoppe from the wildlife photographer and his partner. It was never easy, that shop. But back in the day it also functioned as a video and then DVD rental store, in addition to its National Lottery terminal sales. It did, of course, stay open until 9pm most nights, and thereby proved a valuable local for ciggies and booze when stocks ran out at home.

BECKs Training may have taken over Deneholme by then, or was just about to, as the effort involved in running the centre by the voluntary sector was proving too big a mouthful for Fawside to handle. But the resilience of the community was well-founded in a kind of doughty perseverance in the face of the sort of adversity that we all weathered together.

The Allen Valley Striders were already traditionalising their Fun Run 8km race, which always felt to me like another example of great community enterprise synergistically becoming more than the sum of each individual contribution.

Whenever the year of this press clipping, it’s safe to remember those times with good cheer, to think about the optimism and hopes for the future, while contributing to brilliant good causes like the Great North Air Ambulance.