Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
44th donkey derby to make village horse with laughter
ORGANISERS of Bampton Donkey Derby are getting ready to raise money for the village’s senior citizens while giving the chance to race to glory.
Now in its 44th year, the donkey derby takes place in Sandford Field during the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The first event was held in 1969 and has been thrilling spectators and riders ever since.
The brainchild of the village’s fundraising committee, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Junketing, the event was formed to raise money to pay for the village old folks’ annual summer day trip to the coast, while giving villagers, young and old, the chance to have fun.
Don Rouse, 76, of Bampton, has been MC’ing the event since it started.
He said: “We all look forward to the donkey derby. It’s one of the best examples of village life you can see and it’s for a terrific cause.
“Thanks to all the support we get for this and our other annual events like the annual Bampton shirt races, we have been able to give our 400 OAPs their customary £20 Christmas bonus this year and on top of that a further £10 summer bonus.”
Adults and children used to race donkeys in the derby, but health and safety regulations have put paid to some of the horsing around.
Mr Rouse added: “Years ago I would put out a call for jockeys, but I now have to call for ‘jockeys over the age of six and under eight stone’, which rules out adult races.”
Whereas the village’s landlords once had their own race, pubs and firms now just sponsor races, including the Nursery Hurdle and the Shopkeepers’ Maiden Stakes.
Villagers also pay to sponsor the donkeys and enjoy a bet through a charity Tote.
Debbie Landray, 45, took part in the donkey derby as a child and now her daughters, Izzy, 11, and Alice, 15, are also involved.
Mrs Landray, of Bampton said: “I grew up here so the donkey derby was something my friends and I looked forward to entering every year.
“I took part between the ages of about eight until about 14 when I got too big.
“I loved it although it was often a noisy melee of animals and children, with us all shouting for our donkeys to go faster.”
Izzy, a pupil at Burford School, said: “The donkey derby is great fun, although some of the animals are very stubborn and you never know if you have a fast one until you get on.
“Sometimes you might think you will win and your donkey just stops just before the finishing line.”
Prince, Dusty, Mini-Me and Cracker are among a party of 12 young donkeys from Weston- super-Mare who will make their way to Bampton for this year’s derby.
Part of a herd of 60 donkeys belonging to Terry Vincent , 69, and 40-year-old Richard Warburton, the animals are more used to carrying children along the beach at the Somerset seaside resort.
Bampton Donkey Derby takes place on August Bank Holiday Monday at Sandford Field from 2pm until 4.30pm.
The event also features bric-a-brac stalls, skittles, Aunt Sally and crockery smashing.
Comments are closed on this article.