Over the stable door: Charity race fun and unwelcome destruction

Messing about on the river had been so much fun.
Messing about on the river had been so much fun.
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The point to point proved a fun day out last Saturday. The charity race in aid of Candlelighters was thoroughly enjoyed by the 14 riders. They were aboard everything from Cobs to Clydesdales, most having their first taste of racing. The crowd ‘holloaed’ every one of them home, respectful at seeing true amateurs with the guts to have a go for a worthy cause. The day raised £8,000 for the charity.

The winner was John Chadwick, a Pendle Master famed for his spins down the catwalk and his orange trousers. John’s spare time is usually taken up show jumping when he is not running Airedale Chemicals.

After the hunting season ended in March, John said he had been busy trailing back and forth to a friend’s gallop near Thirsk in an effort to keep his mount fit for the race. It certainly paid off. He took the shortest route ‘down the paint’ to grab the lead from his competitors at the bottom of the steep Skipton hill and won by a nose. His win will be much celebrated; indeed, we will probably be reminded of the victory on a frequent basis throughout the next hunting season.

My family were all rather upset when my son’s boat was stolen a few weeks ago. We’d enjoyed some relaxing summer afternoons messing about on the river with Felix’s wooden sail boat. The sail may have been lost a long time ago but it was still great fun for my son and his pals as they swam and enjoyed adventures aboard, ‘Swallows and Amazons’ style.

We kept the boat covered up under a tree alongside the river in one of my father’s fields. A few weeks ago, when we were checking the cattle we noticed it’d been taken. Being so heavy, the only way anyone could take it unnoticed was to row it away. My son was mortified. “We might find it if we have a good search,” he added hopefully. I held out little hope but he and Tris set off walking down the shallow river bed towards Otley.

It was quite a few miles later when, to Tris’ great surprise, they came across the boat tied up at the bottom of someone’s garden which backed on to the river. I paid the inhabitants a visit, keen to find out if they could explain things but after some curtain twitching there was no answer.

When we examined the boat closely it had been smashed to bits. Three big holes in the hull were letting in water, a result of being dragged over the shallow rocks. It was no longer sea worthy and looked beyond repair. It was a tough learning curve for my son who was in tears. “The fun times it has given us will leave us with some happy memories,” I told him in an attempt to lift his spirits – but in reality, it infuriated me. I will never understand how some people justify such despicable behaviour.