Donald whizzes from Oz for ‘brilliant’ Reading Sports

reading sports flag 640The organisers of the Reading Sports must be doing something right – because Donald Joshua came all the way from Australia to attend.

Donald – whose brother Brian still lives on St Helena – was one of more than 1,500 people who turned out for the annual UK gathering of Saints and their friends and families.

The organisers have been basking in the success of the event after taking a bold decision to move to a new venue at Reading Abbey Rugby Club.

The campsite filled up

The campsite filled up

Vilma Toms, secretary of the St Helena Association, said the high turn-out would mean bigger donations to charities back home.

She said: “It was absolutely brilliant. We had so much positive feedback from everybody.

“First of all, so much more space we had, and the fact that they could party all night should they want to.

“They enjoyed the club house, the disco, everything. It was a real party atmosphere.”

Staff from the rugby club and the inflatable rides were also enthusiastic about the event, said Vilma.

“The bouncy castle people said they’d love to come again because people were friendly and everybody was happy. The people in the rugby club are over the moon. They couldn’t do enough to help us. They just said, ‘The ground is yours, do what you like’.”

Click for fancy dress images

Click for fancy dress images

There was much more entertainment for children than in previous years, including bouncy castles, an inflatable obstacle course, a rodeo ride, and zorbing – rolling around inside giant transparent balls.

Some of the rides attracted just as many adults as children.

But while the races went ahead as usual – with adults required to run with balloons between their legs in the egg and spoon event – one traditional fixture was missing.

No one was willing to put up a team against the defending tug o’war champions, who were awarded the winners’ crate of beer without having to pull for it.

Perhaps they were all too busy zorbing.

Attendance was up on 2013, with about 1,100 paying adults and an estimated 500 children.

“More people were camping as well, so the party atmosphere started on Saturday and carried all the way through until three o’clock on Monday morning,” said Vilma.

Zorbing: click for a gallery

Zorbing: click for a gallery

Nick Stevens, who had travelled to the UK with the island’s Commonwealth Games team, manned the Enterprise St Helena stall, encouraging Saints to consider returning home to help build a new economy.

In the case of Pamela Ward Lees, departing chair of the Friends of St Helena, no persuasion was needed: she and partner Andy were at the sports to say farewell to friends before heading out to settle in Longwood (and make cakes).

The event itself took place in brilliant sunshine, but those who stayed on until bank holiday Monday had to take their tents down in heavy rain.

Hundreds of pictures were posted on Facebook by Paul George and official photographers Jessica Osborne and Emily Braden.

The association is supporting the same island charities as last year, including the arts and crafts group, the family support group and Father Dale Bowers’ fund for vulnerable people.

Facebook comments: 

Plenty of entertainment: click for gallery

Plenty of entertainment: click for gallery

Ronnie Benjamin Joshua: What an absolutely fantastic bank holiday weekend!!! Thank you all, a whole bunch of lovely family and friends in one place!

David Peters: What a great day on Sunday. Reading sports day was fantastic. Many thanks to the organisers St Helena Association for a great job and great venue. Clean toilets, plenty of parking, friendly staff, and most of all, so good to see so many familiar faces. It’s like a day of an analogue version of Facebook. Thanks for re-uniting us with long lost friends and relatives.

Patrick George: Thank you St Helena Association for making it all happen. I know a lot of blood, sweat, tears and possibly sleepless nights went into the preparation. It was my first time ever and I feel like I made history for myself. Met old school friends, family and people I didn’t know except they knew my late parents Eric and Ivy George.

Monica Yon: I would like to say a huge thank you to the St Helena Association for all their hard work and making such a wonderful entertaining day for all of us. I thoroughly enjoyed it and meeting everyone, well most people as I miss so many I would have love to chat and laugh with. Such a lovely turn-out too, and great location. Thank you.

Carryn Jones: Another fantastic weekend that was well worth the long drive from Aberdeen. Love the new venue!! Thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends and family.

Children's races: click for gallery

Children’s races: click for gallery

Ursula Harris: I would like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to the St Helena Association for all the hard work that went into organising another memorable Sports Day.

Rio Duncan-Prasetyo: Thank you for an awesome long weekend! The foods, music, sports, hospitality….and the weather (how lucky). The committee are friendly, helpful and hard working. The Reading Rugby club staff – thank you so much for welcoming us.

Joanne Tori Bowers: Had a wonderful day at Reading Sport. St Helena Association always do their best to make our sports day special and great job for making everyone come together. Unfortunately that was my last sports day but it has been really good for all the years I have been going and good luck in future (Joanne is returning home).

Trevor Toms: Big thanks to the few people who help us – Renee and Rio Prasetyo and Larry Hudson for running the sports events – what a brilliant job they did. Thanks also to Felicity Walters, Darlene Peters, Lorraine Duncan and Pat Harris for helping us on the day. Special thanks to James Miller for all his help and enthusiasm. Grateful thanks also to Leon Miller for all his help. Thanks to Phil and Paul for the entertainment on Saturday night, and to Phil for the amazing disco on Sunday night – loved the lights and the smoke – cool!!. Thanks to the Brooks Brothers and Sawdust for giving us great entertainment in the clubhouse.

SEE ALSO:
Gallery 1: Fancy Dress
Gallery 2: Seen at the Sports
Gallery 3: Children’s races
Gallery 4: Teen races
Gallery 5: Inflatable fun

 

 

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