A new chair has taken the helm of the committee which organises England’s oldest traditional sports event.
Marjorie Blackburn is the first woman to lead Ambleside Sports, now in its 132nd year. Mrs Blackburn takes over from Jak Hirst who is stepping down after 13 years. He will keep an advisory role, and retain responsibility for attracting sponsorship.
Mrs Blackburn, who lives in Ambleside, has been a member of the organising committee for 18 years, alongside her husband, Mike, himself a former chairman. Her professional career includes teaching and training, personnel and business, and she is a keen golfer, walker, and member of a local singing group.
Many tributes were paid to Mr Hirst’s “total dedication” to the Sports and he was described as a great team leader.
Ambleside Sports is run entirely by volunteers who spend months in planning and organising, and then a full week of setting up and taking down the sports field equipment. One of the highlights on the Cumbrian calendar, the event includes fell racing (with a new category for under-9s in the popular Guides race this year), hound trails, track cycling, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and many stalls and sideshows.
The committee has also given £14,000 in the last five years in sporting scholarships to young people in the area, to help them develop their sporting potential.
Also stepping down from the committee was Tom Harrington MBE, the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestler who won 44 world championships.
This year’s event will be held at Rydal Park on Thursday July 26. Space is still available for anyone wanting to book a trade stall in the “craft” marquee to sell local produce, art, jewellery etc, and these can be booked for £35, including table, via the website http://amblesidesports.co.uk/