How the Big Beverley Pancake Race has gone strength to strength since volunteers brought it back

Gone flippin’ crazy might well be the new motto for an East Yorkshire market town in the coming years if the Big Beverley Pancake Race has anything to do with it, organised by The Rotary Club of Beverley.

Club secretary John Greenwood has been at the event’s helm since it was reintroduced in 2019 and it is his fellow club members Yvonne Johnson and Julie Booker who are responsible for this year’s management.

Planning of all Rotary Club activities that include charity fundraising events and fun events such as this is held where the club meets at the historic Ferguson-Fawsitt pub in the neighbouring village of Walkington.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Big Beverley Pancake Race is backed by Beverley Town Council and local radio station Beverley FM and is run in relays and heats along Toll Gavel, the main shopping thoroughfare, between the renowned Saturday Market place and the café culture Wednesday Market place.

Members of Rotary Club of Beverley get ready for the Big Beverley Pancake Race.
Yvonne Johnson, and John Greenwood at the Market Cross.Members of Rotary Club of Beverley get ready for the Big Beverley Pancake Race.
Yvonne Johnson, and John Greenwood at the Market Cross.
Members of Rotary Club of Beverley get ready for the Big Beverley Pancake Race. Yvonne Johnson, and John Greenwood at the Market Cross.

“Five years ago our then president, Liz Whitaker, decided it would be a good idea to reinstate the town’s Pancake Race,” says John.

“It had been held for many years and it went down very well for two years before Covid hit, and had to be abandoned for two years.

“Last year we gave it a go again, but it wasn’t until January that we decided to put it on, which didn’t leave us a lot of time. We still attracted a decent crowd and had a few heats leading to the crowning of our new champions – the Young Liberals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While it goes under the moniker of the Big Beverley Pancake Race it’s not a cavalry charge of hundreds running up and down Toll Gavel, which is only wide enough for a race between two or at best three flippers at a time.

“It would be carnage with any more than that,” says John. ‘And we want it to be a spectacle for everyone to enjoy and hopefully come back the next year to put forward a team of their own whether as a family, a local business like a shop or pub, or a sports club.

“We had four teams last year, two semi-final heats and then a final, but all indications are that we may have many more this year as we’ve already received more entries than last year, and we are very happy to hear from anyone reading this, like a young farmer’s club team or maybe a Beverley Racecourse team, just without the horses.

“We are looking for teams of four runners/flippers. It’s a relay race of about 100 metres and each member of the team has a frying pan. We supply the pans and the pancakes. The first team member has a pancake in their frying pan at the start line and then halfway along is the flipping zone. This is where they have to flip their pancake and, once flipped successfully back into the pan, then carry on to the end of the course where the second runner/flipper must catch the pancake that the first runner flips into the air, into their frying pan.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Then it’s the second runner into the flipping zone, flipping again, and on to the third runner/flipper by flipping the pancake into the third runner’s pan – and so on, like that to the fourth and final runner in the same way. After the fourth runner/flipper has flipped in the flipping zone it’s a dash to the finish line. It’s delightful mayhem with pancakes being dropped, missed or spilled, crowds cheering from behind barriers erected on both sides of Toll Gavel.

John says the adjudication over sending runners/flippers back when they drop the pancake isn’t as strictly observed as an athletics meeting and it’s more about creating a bit of orchestrated chaos and putting smiles on everybody’s faces.

‘We are supposed to send people back to the start if they drop their pancake but so far we’ve been very kind. It’s always better if you’ve got a nice tight race each time. If we find we have athletic clubs entering who may take it more seriously we might have to be a little more strict but I don’t think we will be.

“We have two trophies. One is for the overall Big Beverley Pancake Race champions once all the heats and semi-finals and final has taken place and the other is for the Best Dressed Team, so we very much encourage fancy dress outfits. It would be great to see even more runners in wonderful colourful costumes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

John ran a local post office and village shop with his wife Anne in the neighbouring village of Tickton for over 25 years, retiring three years ago, and is in contact with local poultry farmer Giles Field in North Newbald who used to supply the eggs for his shop, to provide the eggs to be used in the making of this year’s race pancakes.

Pancake races can be traced back to 1445 in Olney, Buckinghamshire where they still host an annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday, but The Big Beverley Pancake Race is held on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday and will be held tomorrow Sunday February 11.

John says the more the merrier and you can turn up on the day with your team of four, but that it would be helpful if you contacted him in advance, preferably today (Saturday February 10).

“Our First Race is scheduled to start at 12 noon. All teams taking part must register near The White Company shop in Toll Gavel by 11.30am.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

John says he won’t be running having taken part in the first races in 2019.

“I pulled both my hamstrings that first year, but the Rotary Club made it into the final so it was worth it. The next event we are organising is a Beer Festival at the Masonic Hall in Beverley, on Trinity Lane near the railway station on 5-6 April.

If you would like to take part in The Big Beverley Pancake Race tomorrow please contact John on 07572 473921.