“We can’t go on if you won’t help,” say Hawes Gala organisers

Emily Pickard, top right, with other members of the committee: Picture by Kevin Johnson.

By Betsy Everett

Hawes and District Gala faces a crisis meeting this weekend which could spell the end of half a century of tradition in the Dales market town.

“If we cannot get more volunteers the gala can’t continue. It’s as simple as that” says Emily Pickard, co-secretary of the committee which will hold its annual general meeting on Sunday night where the fate of the gala, which draws hundreds of people to the town each year, will be decided.

“For such a busy town with lots of small connecting villages, it’s really upsetting if the community can’t pull together to put this fantastic family event on ever again,” added Emily, who lives in Aysgarth, works full-time, and is the mother of two small boys, Dylan and Hugo.
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“We made an appeal for help earlier in the year and that drew three new people, but we have longer-serving members resigning because of work and family commitments so we’ll be back to only about six people and it’s just not enough. In the early years you’d have fifteen or twenty on the committee but not any more. Yet we have just the same workload, if not more.

“I used to go as a child and now I take my boys and they love it. It’s a fantastic family tradition and it’s the only one of its kind in upper Wensleydale. It would be a terrible shame if it had to end especially as it is getting more popular every year. It’s not just for Hawes, but for the whole of the upper Dales.”

The gala is a highlight of the year in the Wensleydale town, and this year celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The fancy dress parade and marching band start in the main street around noon, making their way to the Hawes community field where the fancy dress competition is judged.

This year there were motorbike shows throughout the day, as well as regulars, the Hawes Silver Band, and a huge variety of activities: inflatables – for adults and children – a petting zoo, tug o’ war, races, a water slide, refreshments and a marquee for local artists and crafts people. Entry is just £4 – the gala makes no profits – and under-16s go free.

Emily urges as many people as possible, from Hawes and surrounding villages, to attend the meeting this Sunday, November 12, at 7pm at the Board Inn, and volunteer to join the committee.

“We will make a final decision on Sunday. Will we be saying ‘What a shame. They were the good old days,’ or ‘Yes – will we carry on’? Please – come along and help us make that decision,” she says.

Current committee members, with Emily,  are Charlotte Handley, Emma Guy, Fiona Magill, Georgia Edmead, Jenny Guy, Rosie Dinsdale, Shirelle Calvert, and Vicky Thompson.