rory attends appleby horse fair
Rory attended Appleby Horse Fair for the first time on Saturday 5th June, at the invitation of Eden District Council’s Chief Executive Kevin Douglas and Cumbria Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Graham.
Following lunch at Appleby Bowling Club, where Mr Stewart met and chatted with police officers, he was taken on a tour of the Fair’s highlights by Kevin Douglas.
“In Kevin I had an excellent guide, with unparalleled insider knowledge of the Fair’s organisation and operations. Appleby Fair is a historic event, and to see Appleby today – with its usual population of around 2,500 swelled by tens of thousands and transformed into such a colourful scene of horse-trading and festivities – was an extraordinary experience for me.”
“Kevin took me first to the crowded Sands area to watch the horse-washing in the River Eden and then on to the Education on the Hoof cultural programme at Centre 67, where I met and chatted with Romani journalist and broadcaster Jake Bowers of the Travellers’ Times. It was fascinating to hear Jake’s views on the future for Britain’s gypsy and traveller communities and their hopes to establish a network of what Jake termed ‘culturally-appropriate housing’, modelled in part on a number of successful schemes already functioning on the continent.”
“We walked on to Fair Hill, the site transformed into a sea of both traditional round-top and modern caravans, where I met Billy Welch. Billy, like his father and grandfather before him, has been organising Appleby Horse Fair for eleven years. He spoke eloquently of his community’s sense of belonging and of ancestry, and of the very important historical and cultural significance of Appleby. I personally found it to be one of the most unique events I have ever had the pleasure to attend, and I very much look forward to coming back next year.”
Chief Executive of Eden District Council, Kevin Douglas, said: “We are delighted to welcome our new MP to Appleby Horse Fair. It is very important that key figures representing the Eden area understand the unique nature of this event and the special set of circumstances that it brings for the local residents, the gypsy and traveller communities, and visitors. Now that Rory has experienced the special atmosphere of the Appleby Horse Fair for himself, I know he fully appreciates the hard work that gypsies and travellers, local residents and the public agencies are jointly making to ensure the event is as safe and enjoyable for everyone as possible.”
Rory was impressed by the calm and harmonious atmosphere of the Fair, and commented:
“An awful lot of hard work goes into this fair; from policing to clean-up operations, to the deployment of the Northwest Ambulance and emergency services, to the strong presence of the RSPCA. The co-ordination of these different organisations is an impressive feat, ably managed by Eden District Council and its partners. I was very, very impressed at the smooth running of their operations.”