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Aldington soapbox derby could return next year


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A soapbox derby which hasn't been held since 2015 due to a lack of volunteers and sponsors could return next year.

The event in Aldington, near Ashford – which sees residents build quirky karts to race down Forge Hill – used to draw thousands of people to the village.

Residents speed down Forge Hill in their quirky creations like this life sized baby elephant. Picture: Wayne McCabe
Residents speed down Forge Hill in their quirky creations like this life sized baby elephant. Picture: Wayne McCabe

Now the parish council is leading discussions over whether the derby could return in 2023.

Cllr Linda Harman, who represents the Saxon Shore ward on Ashford Borough Council for the Ashford Independents, is also chairman of Aldington and Bonnington parish council.

She says 100 volunteers are needed to ensure the event is "successful and safe".

"The possibility of reinstating this unique event is entirely dependent upon finding sponsorship and sufficient volunteers willing to get involved," she said.

"At this stage we are conducting a feasibility study for 2023/4."

The chicane claims a victim. Picture: Gary Browne
The chicane claims a victim. Picture: Gary Browne

Aldington resident and former event marshal Peter Morris-Kelso says the idea of a revived derby is an exciting prospect.

"Everyone is desperate to get back to normal (as safely as possible, of course), and something like this would be ideal," he said.

"The village has grown a little since the last derby, so there will be several new residents who may have never seen one in person, let alone on their own doorstep.

"I'm sure if the villagers, old and new, rally around, they'll get the numbers they need and hopefully the derby will become a regular event once again.

"I think the total raised over the years amounted to more than £70,000 for various groups, and revitalising the derby with the same aims would mean more causes would benefit."

Huge crowds gathered to watch their fellow residents tear down Forge Hill. Picture: Gary Browne
Huge crowds gathered to watch their fellow residents tear down Forge Hill. Picture: Gary Browne
The Soapbox derby has raised huge amounts which has been donated to charities including the Pilgrims Hospice. Picture: Sarah Prescott
The Soapbox derby has raised huge amounts which has been donated to charities including the Pilgrims Hospice. Picture: Sarah Prescott

The first soapbox derby took place in 1995 as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of VE Day.

The next took place in 2000, with it becoming a bi-annual event up until 2015.

Crowds have been able to watch a life-sized baby elephant, a pirate ship, and Frozen's Olaf fly down the hill in the fastest time.

Competitors are judged on their speed and originality in design, meaning it's not just the fastest who can succeed.

The parish council is encouraging residents in Aldington and Bonnington to volunteer if they can, and anyone who would like to help should email them on: robertaspicer@abpc.org.uk

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