Celebrating 10 years of Buckham Fair
- Credit: Archant
Martin Clunes tells us the story behind this extraordinary summer event and shares some of his favourite moments from it
The spark for Buckham happened when we bought our house in Beaminster, just before we moved in two fields came up for sale next to the farm. It was also some of the flattest land in the area. I immediately thought what a great place it would be to hold a good old fashioned fair with a dog show, ponies and a funfair. We later found out that there is an ancient charter to hold a fair on Buckham Down.
The first year we held a gymkhana, with a few local stalls, in aid of Riding for the Disabled. It was very much a family affair, driving around at 5 in the morning with my father-in-law and brothers-in-law banging in sign posts to the event. To our surprise, and despite a few hiccups – like the promised beer tent which turned out to be a man with a table, an umbrella and a cool box and the one ride funfair - we raised £14,500 for the charity. Last year we raised £100,000 – a pretty good result after nine years and we now have a fabulous Buckham Beer Tent run by some very good friends of ours.
During this time we have supported three much cherished Dorset charities: Julia’s House, Weldmar Hospicecare and Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. This year as a one-off we have decided to raise money for the Dorset County Hospital Cancer appeal.
Buckham Fair is very much a team effort, it really could not happen without an army of generous spirited individuals. One of these remarkable people is Rosemary Young who runs the dog show – including the wonderful Rescue Dog of the Year award. Mirroring this on the equine side is Caroline Godwin who manages the logistics of our horse show. Vanessa Voegele-Downing and Bhavani Hogarty have a holistic overview of the Fair co-ordinating all the trade stalls and what goes where, they are our boots on the ground on the day checking everything is running smoothly. And finally Caroline Nickinson looks after our sponsors, including the ones who come from across the globe, making sure they have a great Buckham experience.
Philippa likens Buckham Fair to organising a film shoot, something she has a lot of experience with – which is why she is so brilliant at co-ordinating it. You have to think of everything from parking, loos and poo bins to managing horse boxes and a thousand dogs.
One of my areas of expertise has become straw bales which we use for people to sit on. In our third year we were really struggling to get hold of any so I went on local radio to ask for help and Chris Baggs a true gentleman and local farmer came up trumps and has supplied us with bales every year.
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Our lovely neighbour John, who sadly passed away this spring, offered the use of his fields just over the road from Buckham – 30 acres of free parking – and we never even asked. That’s what really blows Philippa and I away, the practical offers of help we get without asking.
The day after the fair I whizz around in the buggy with Jim picking up any litter or poo bags, and that’s it for another year. The biggest thrill is handing over the cheque to our chosen charity as we know they will use that money to make a real difference. Buckham Fair, 19 August, opens 9am, buckhamfair.co.uk
Thank you Barclays!
Barclays have been involved with Buckham Fair for the last three years through its employee volunteering scheme. Zoe Horne, Barclays Branch Manager at Chard, was spurred on to get involved with Buckham Fair after seeing Martin Clunes being interviewed on Daybreak promoting the event. “After contacting Philippa to see how Barclays’ employees could support the Fair, it’s now an annual event that my colleagues are eager to take part in. It’s about giving back our skills, time and energy to support our local communities –we’re thrilled to have raised over £90,000 for charity and look forward to being at Buckham this year.”
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