GALA is a right royal success despite heavy downpours

Hebden Royd Mayor Coun Christine Davenport leads the conga at Mytholmroyd Gala, followed by gala chairman Barry Greenwodd and Coronation Street writer Ryan Dior
Hebden Royd Mayor Coun Christine Davenport leads the conga at Mytholmroyd Gala, followed by gala chairman Barry Greenwodd and Coronation Street writer Ryan Dior

THE sun eventually shone through on what was a great day for Mytholmroyd at the village’s annual gala.

Heavy showers throughout Saturday afternoon had sent some people packing and forced the cancellation of several sporting events that were due to be held on Burnley Road Playing fields - but community spirit eventually saved the day.

Organisers declared the day a right royal success after the event, which had the theme of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics 2012, saw hundreds raised for the Calder Valley Flood Appeal through the sale of donated ale from Little Valley Brewery.

Gala Chairman Barry Greenwood said: “We were determined that Mytholmroyd Gala was going to go ahead as planned. Whilst we had a mixture of rainfall and sunshine, it was made very clear that the previous week, when people were waist high in water, was not going to stop us.”

The gala started with a parade, which featured a Queen Elizabeth look-a-like leading the way, local dignitaries, Dene Michael from Black Lace, the Gala queen Amy Harris and her retinue, ancient Olympians, kings and queens, a gorilla, dogs in a lifeboat, children wearing Royal masks, various floats, motorcyclists and more.

Over 1,000 cheering adults and youngsters watched on as the procession wound its way to Burnley Road Playing Fields.

On the field, despite the cancellation of planned fun sporting events, there was music from Dene Michael, Bonny from X-Factor, entertainment from Coronation Street writer Ryan Dior, various stalls, bouncy castles and other attractions.

Local politicians who turned up on the day were Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker, Hebden Royd Mayor Coun Christine Davenport, Hebden Royd Deputy Mayor Karl Boggis, Calderdale Deputy Mayor Coun John Hardy, Todmorden Mayor Coun Abid Hussain and other.

Mr Whittaker said: “It was fantastic, after the events of last week, to see such huge community support.

“Despite the wet weather and the hardship people are experiencing in their homes, they have come out to support the community and that’s typical of the spirit I have seen over the last week.”

One of the highlights of the day was the opening speech from the Queen Elizabeth look-a-like, who officially opened the event.

That was followed by the crowning of the new gala queen, Amy Harris, by the retiring queen Zoe Glover.

Amy said: “I’d like to thank the gala committee for giving me the honour of being gala queen this year.

“It has been great seeing the community work together after the floods to make sure this event happened.”

Another gala highlight was the performance of Dene Michael, who sang various Black Lace hits including “Superman” and “Agadoo”, and also going the crowd to form a conga line.

Dene, who would like to return to the gala next year, said: “The response has been marvellous bearing in mind the weather and the floods - I was actually playing in Todmorden last week when the floods came.

“It is nice when people support you in rainy weather ad I am happy that all the community has come out to support Mytholmroyd, which they always do.”

One of the stall holders on the fields was Coun Davenport, who was raising money for the Calder Valley Flood Appeal, Branching Out and Age UK.

She said: “The atmosphere has been electrifying. I am pleased with the turnout and the support from the community. People have used the gala as a way of getting together to say ‘we’re not going to be beaten by the floods’”

After the cancellation of the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade last week due to the flooding, it was decided to rearrange it for the same day as the gala. In a show of solidarity for the area, some performers from the Hebden Bridge event turned up in Mytholmroyd to loud cheers from the public.

Mr Greenwood added: “I’d like to thank the gala committee for organising such a fantastic event and everyone who turned up to show their support for the Calder Valley.”