Steam rally's future in doubt

By Dave GooderhamWHEN Don Loveday first came up with the idea of a steam rally 25 years ago, his biggest problem was dealing with the temperamental British climate.

By Dave Gooderham

WHEN Don Loveday first came up with the idea of a steam rally 25 years ago, his biggest problem was dealing with the temperamental British climate.

But now a far more serious predicament faces the dedicated pensioner and his band of organisers of the Thurlow and Haverhill Steam and Country show.

Following a memorable two-day show at the weekend, organisers now must turn their attentions to finding a new venue after the owners of Haverhill Showground decided not to host the event in future years.

Mr Loveday, 74, said: "You never know what might happen next year, but at the moment I am not too confident. There are things in motion that might make it possible, but it is too early to say.

"It is very sad as I have been involved for so long and I would hate to see it dropped. It has taken us 25 years to get such a good reputation and we have made so many good friends. People come up to me and say this is the nicest show they have visited.

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"I did think about stopping last year when I wasn't too well and I didn't think we would get a field. But when we were told we would have the showground for one more year, I thought I would continue."

Alhough organising the event can often take months of preparation, it is a labour of love as far as Mr Loveday is concerned.

"My grandfather was interested in steam engines and I used to go and see them with him. When the whole idea of preserving steam engines began, it was something that brought memories back to me," he said.

"The thing I remember about the first show was that it was very wet. We had 64 steam engines run through Steeple Bumpstead to Thurlow and we needed tractors to pull them on to the field. It was one hell of a muddy mess."

This year's show was sponsored by the East Anglian Daily Times and the number of visitors to the event is expected to top last year's 7,000.

Hundreds of steam engines, classic cars, barn engines and classic tractors wowed the crowds on one of the warmest weekends of the year.

Other highlights included helicopter rides, television stars Moto-Stunts International and a range of trade and craft stalls.

Show vice-chairman, Peter Benson, said: "We were very pleased with how the show went and we hope to have improved on last year's event.

"The turnout was good and there was a lot of people here who seemed to enjoy all the attractions. We were also delighted with the hot weather, which always helps for this kind of event."

The show usually raises thousands of pounds for good causes, including in recent years West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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