THE renowned Windlesham Pram Race returned in a new format after a two-year COVID-enforced break and was declared a huge success.

Windlesham Pram Race

The Boxing Day event – which was first staged in 1987 – was tweaked to make it more family friendly, with the drinking of alcohol by competitors not allowed until the races were over.

Its three sections, with a total of 18 teams, started earlier and pubs and the village club along the route opened after the cut-off time for finishers, which was at noon.

“There were fewer entries than previously but thousands of people came to watch,” said the chairman of the organising committee, Mike Sheard. “The turnout of spectators was amazing and the village was full.

“Our intention was to make the event more like the original, family orientated event, and I think we succeeded.”

He said villagers had been asked in a survey how they preferred the event to be run, and it was clear that the majority wanted a reduction in alcohol consumption. Starting the first race earlier, at 10.15am, also enabled all but one of the road closures to be ended at noon, which lessened the disruption of previous years.

“We were able to lessen the overall impact on the village and still get a huge number of donations for the local charities and good causes we support,” said Mike. “As many people don’t carry much cash nowadays, we had card readers for donations for the first time.

“The collecting buckets were also pretty full as well, so we have a lot of counting of coins to do before the total is known.”

The race route started as in previous years at Highams Park in Chertsey Road, formerly the UK headquarters of BOC and now the base of Gordon Murray Group, supercar manufacturer.

The races were started by Surrey Heath Mayor Helen Whitcroft, who decided the winners of the prizes for the best-dressed, best-engineered and best under-18 entries. The route went via Updown Hill, Pound Lane, Church Road and Kennel Lane to the Field of Remembrance.

Mike said the committee was delighted that Gordon Murray apprentices had made a new miniature pram trophy for the best-dressed prize, replacing the “worn-out” original trophy. The company had also donated a new, Gordon Murray Trophy for the best-engineered entry.

“We also had the usual John Sanderson Trophy, donated by Conrad Sturt, the former owner of the Half Moon pub, for the fastest team and were delighted that Frog Bikes sponsored the children’s race, donating a goodie bag for each young person who entered,” added Mike.

“We were able to continue the Windlesham Pram Race as a great tradition, raising money for local organisations from the scouts to groups that benefit older people in the village.”

For a two-page picture spread of the event, see the 5 January edition of the News & Mail, out on Thursday.