From Devizes to Marlborough and back, last weekend, Sunday 19th December saw a repeat of last year’s Tractor & Tinsel Run, and Devizes Young Farmers’ fundraising event attracted masses of attention. Our man Andy was at the scene and I leave his thoughts on it here, I just wanted to add my tuppence too; you know me! Firstly, I offer thanks to the Devizes Young Farmers and congratulations on the success of the day.……
Raising for both Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society, the Devizes Young Farmers told me they haven’t got a grand total yet, “we will let the Just Giving page run for a while.” For which you can find by clicking here, if you wish to donate.
Confirming this was their second year, they added it was the, “first year for the night run though!” So popular it virtually broke local social media groups with videos, images and messages of congratulations. I had to ask them if they think this could become something of annual Christmas tradition. “We have discussed doing it bi-annually, however it gets such good feedback and response from the public, we are considering doing it annually.”
In fact, the only negative feedback on social media has been concerns about the environmental impact. Puts me between somewhat of a rock and hard place, being the event’s popularity and the amazing fundraising achievement. I figured I’d ask local “green” experts for their thoughts on the issue, rather than play party to social media ranting; and before you throw your toys out of the pram and ingeniously change the D in my name, Darren, for a K, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their responses!
In the global scheme of things, I consider the environmental impact of a fleet of tractors pottering around town to be but a pinprick, and Graham for Sustainable Devizes was equally constructive. “We have very little engagement with farmers locally,” he begun, “yet they are essential to protecting the environment and biodiversity. Our approach to sustainability is to take practical steps and form partnerships. When we campaign it is to start practical projects that will make changes and not to make criticisms of any particular group. We wish to engage with farmers on big issues such as protecting biodiversity rather than take positions on individual actions which have laudable aims.”
Council Green Party Candidate, the aptly named Margaret Green, was similarly supportive, “I agree that raising money for charity is a good thing and assume that the tractor mileage for the event is a donation from the farmers. I think the event has a positive outcome for the community,” she replied, “In terms of climate crisis and emission reduction, farmers are ideally placed to deliver positive outcomes in the form of increasing biodiversity through wildflower meadows (potentially associated with local energy production in solar farms). Their transition to reduced use of pesticides and fertilisers also benefits the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, a key element in a sustainable future. As stewards of our landscape farmers are our friends!”
Naturally the real test would be from the Devizes and Marlborough Extinction Rebellion group, who were somewhat lost for words, noting “like quite a few charity events, it’s also a polluting event,” but even they weren’t overly negative! So, to those whinging on social media today about the environmental impact, I’d suggest they put that in their vapes and puff it!
It now leaves me with the great pleasure to pass you onto roving reporter on the scene, Andy Fawthrop, for his thoughts. All I will add is; I believe the hashtag #nothingeverhappensinDevizes is a splendid piece of ironic overstatement created, correct me if I’m wrong, by local satirist (among other things) Mr Ian Diddams, therefore not to be taken to heart!
Tractors & Tinsel
There’s a bit of a (joking) saying that “nothing ever happens in Devizes”, a phrase that deserves to be fully buried and forgotten for just how incredibly inaccurate it now is.……
Whilst in Pyongyang they parade their missile-launchers, and in Moscow they show off their tanks and troops, this bit of rural Wiltshire did something rather better last Sunday by showcasing its own arsenal of terrifying hardware – tractors! And not just a few tractors, but loads and loads of tractors. Decked out with tinsel. And Christmas trees. And Santa Clauses. And truly it was enough to frighten the pants off any super-power even thinking of ever invading The Vize.
Along with hundreds of others gathered along the route all the way out to Marlborough and in the Market Place in Devizes, my inner tractor-man came suddenly to the fore. And what a sight we witnessed, as the massed squadrons of agricultural machinery drove past us, headlights shining, horns blaring, drivers waving. And this was no mere token gesture, but over 150 colourful beasts roaring past us for the best part of an hour.
Thanks to Devizes Young Farmers for their amazing vision and organisation, for the second year running, in the middle of deep mid-winter, we had another fantastic display of hardware as tractors rolled through the country lanes of Wiltshire on their way back to T.H. White’s gathering ground. Rwanda might be famous for its gorillas in the mist, but in this neck of the woods we had tractors in the fog. And not just the once either – this year for the first time we got a reprise of the shorter D-Town loop in the winter darkness. It’s said that there are some weird folk, like our doughty editor, who simply don’t “get” tractors, but I can’t understand that at all. Personally, I was mesmerised – like a John Deere caught in the headlights, you might say.
Of course part of the (unintended) entertainment was spotting the looks of horror on the faces of the drivers of cars trying to pass through the town, suddenly finding themselves between a massive JCB or CASE, and a flotilla of Massey-Fergusons, wondering what level of hell they’d suddenly found themselves in – absolutely priceless!
To say that was a great success is surely an under-statement. You only had to be there looking at the children’s faces (and those of a few slightly leaky-eyed men of a certain age) to realise what a lot of joy and excitement this all brought to the town. And social media was bending under the sheer weight of photos and videos posted online, as local folk let all their friends know far and wide just what an amazing town this is.
But of course, it wasn’t just for the hell of it: there was a worthy purpose behind such madness. The whole thing was organised to raise funds for two brilliant charities – Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society. And there’s still time to help make a difference in our community and beyond by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/devizesyoung-club
So it’s a massive “hats off” to Devizes Young Farmers, and everyone else involved in organising such a fantastic bit of rural entertainment. It was wonderful, it was awe-inspiring, it was totally bonkers. And a great event out in the open air in the lead-up to Crimbo. Let’s just hope it now becomes an annual and traditional fixture in the D-Town “Nothingeverhappens” Calendar!
Editor’s note; I only “don’t get” tractors without fridges and stereos as standard, otherwise I’m virtually Wurzel!
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