Moat Boat Races and May Fair both in doubt

February 01 2020
Moat Boat Races and May Fair both in doubt

DOUBTS have been cast over the future of two major Wells events – the Moat Boat Races and the May Fair – following a decision by the city’s Lions Club and Air Cadets to withdraw from staging them.

The annual May Fair and maypole dancing in the Market Place has been organised by Wells Lions Club for the past 16 years. It was cancelled last year after the club could not meet the safety requirements requested by Mendip District Council.

The popular Moat Boat Races, held every August Bank Holiday and organised jointly with Wells Air Cadets for the past 18 years, has generated more than £200,000 for local charities and good causes, but both organisations feel that now is the time to hand over to other groups or organisations in a position to run these major events and accommodate the increasing numbers of people attending them. They will be offering help, advice and equipment to any potential new organisers who come forward.

Wells Lions vice-president Paul Clegg said: “The public’s safety at these events has always been paramount in our planning and on the day. We fully appreciate why we’re being asked by Mendip District Council to take even more precautions but we feel that our own resources can better serve the community through running more health and environmental events, alongside our fundraising for local causes with more easily managed events like the very popular concerts we organise.

“Last year saw the club being praised for organising a number of health-related events involving prostate cancer screening and diabetes awareness. Both of these health issues are important in preventing life-threatening diseases.

“Also these initiatives form an important part of the health and environmental initiatives at the core of Lions International plans worldwide. Our small team of enthusiastic Lions members have been stretched this year, so we have re-assessed our direction for 2020 and beyond.

“We are proud of the contribution our volunteer members make but feel that now is the right time for a group with more extensive experience in staging large public events to take the reins. We’ll offer our local knowledge and experience of the events, and equipment, to any group that is prepared to give it a go.”

A large crowd for the maypole dancing at the May Fair in 2018

A large crowd for the maypole dancing at the May Fair in 2018

Flt Lt John Blackburn, Commanding Officer of 1955 (City of Wells) Air Cadets, said: “We have been part of the Moat Boat Races, working with the Lions for over 15 years, and it’s a shame we have had to step back from the event. The planning and competitive aspects of the races was a great way for our cadets to gain confidence through team-building and interaction with the other people taking part.

“We really hope another organisation comes forward to take on the event, as it is a great day out in the city for the whole family, and our cadets would still love to design a raft and compete.”

Anyone interested in staging either or both of these events can contact Wells Lions by email at cityofwellslions@gmail.com