In 2014 we celebrated our fifteenth year and right from our very first Committee meeting in March we wanted to have a very special year. Our Bale Push Magazine had a record number of advertisers and our online followers on Facebook and Twitter grew spectacularly.
The weather forecast was looking very promising and we anticipated a busy night. We had been anxiously following James Bayley who had set off from John O’Groats the week before on his 9 day solo cycle down to Crantock on his amazing “John O’Groats to Land’s End with a Twist” to raise funds for the MS Trust but we were not prepared for what happened next … we received a phone call in the early hours of Saturday morning to say that someone had set fire to the Bale Man and Bailey Bale Dog and both were completely destroyed.
After the initial shock and sadness that someone could do this we had to rapidly think what we were going to do next! With great messages of support from locals and our online followers plus two very generous offers of rewards of £500 each for information to catch those responsible; we dusted ourselves off and set to work. The media wheels turned very quickly and Rick Hopkins our spokesman spent many hours either in a Radio Cornwall Studio or on the telephone to journalists – we even made the BBC Spotlight News!! This tragedy turned in our favour and with such interest and offers of support the Bale Man was rebuilt by Sally, Chris and Matt and returned to his location at the Crantock Turning [sadly Bailey Bale Dog wasn’t so lucky as there wasn’t enough time to rebuild him!].
It was decided that we would bring him back to Crantock every evening just to make sure he was safe and our thanks go to Matt Horrocks who undertook this task twice a day. Such was the interest and concern that we even had our local Police phoning to ask whether there was a problem when he wasn’t there before 8am one morning. Needless to say we had a fantastic evening and we reached our target of £10,000 and had a record number of 147 teams taking part and the village was alive with helpers, competitors and spectators. We can but thank the local Police, Crantock Villagers and others in our wider community for their offers of support during that time.
The manner in which the original event has grown has surpassed the expectations of its founder members and the money raised by the event now exceeds £76,000. We are now in our sixteenth year and our event has gone from strength to strength.
Much of our revenue is provided by the 130 individuals and companies who sponsor and advertise in this Magazine [we are hugely grateful to them]. However, this figure does not include the monies raised during the evening by the organisations that have their stalls on site or the monies raised by individual teams who have been sponsored to take part. Besides providing an enjoyable evening for all concerned; the evening does have serious intent and that is, of course to raise money to support others within our local and wider community.
Since 2000 we have supported more than 44 different organisations making donations to them ranging from £100 to over £3000. Each year the selection of organisations to support is very difficult and many hours are spent deliberating over which worthy causes to adopt. This year the Committee has selected Parkinson’s Mid Cornwall Branch, Cornish Families Fighting Cancer, Crantock Memory Café, Wired Cornwall plus the local SLSC’s and Village Hall to support. One of the stipulations for the organisations who receive our support is that the money they receive must be used to provide support the people who live in Cornwall. You can find out more about these organisations and an update on last year’s fund raising further on in the Magazine.
In the years since the first Bale Push there have been many developments which have occurred to make the evening safer and more enjoyable for spectators and competitors alike. Many months of careful planning meetings take place, occasionally with pint and sandwich in hand [our thanks to the support of our local pubs – always technically known as ABC – i.e. The Albion, Bowgie and Cornishman!] before the event to ensure that we have thought of everything.
The Course needs to be checked and so it complies with legal requirements [you may have noticed on the days before the event our Committee members roaming the village cutting back overgrown branches and filling in potholes [especially on Poor Man’s Lane].
We have been hugely fortunate over the years to have had excellent BALE STOPPERS - Father Morley held this role for many years and he handed over the role to Father Jeremy. Father Jeremy moved from Crantock Parish so Rev’d Hilary and her husband have made it to the “Starting Line” team [they must have enjoyed last year so much that they are back for more!!]. Our BALE STOPPERS with their good humour and involvement on the evening are pivotal to the safety and enjoyment at the start and finish line. They both successfully “double up” as prize presenters during the evening and have appeared in what must now be hundreds of photographs – sporting their famous “Bale Stopper” shirts.
One of the most important aspects of the proceeding is, of course the bales – which are fundamental to the success of the whole event. This is where planning is crucial … and it starts early in October with the planting of the wheat seed in local fields – the seeds grow into fine strong plants and must be harvested in early summer and specially wrapped at just the right time [only the best bales are selected!]. Our bales are then stored at a secret location to ensure they are in perfect condition to be used on the second Friday in September.
The most iconic part of the whole evening is of course The Bale Man – he has been imitated but never equaled! The arrival of The Bale Push Man causes great excitement in various quarters of our community! To the outside world he is usually first seen in late August at the Crantock Junction just up from the Trevemper Roundabout – however he is often spied on trips up Trevowah Road and going to Cubert. Once the evening is over he seems to vanish … however this is not the case! He reappears for his annual photo shoot at The Bowgie in October before starting his well earned rest.
The popularity of the evening has increased dramatically over the years. We have many teams who return year after year along with their supporters. The date for the Bale Push is put in many calendars so that competitors and spectators from further afield can plan their holidays so not to miss the evening. The Village Hall Car Park is usually bursting at the seams with all kinds of transport and the Village Hall Committee who always “man” the Car Park have a very busy time in the early evening getting the vehicles neatly parked and the spectators directed to the centre of the village where all the action is. Our visitors are always greeted by the sounds of a local band and the smell of our barbeque and delicious pasties. The Committee members are delighted that Crantock Bakeries have kindly agreed to sponsor us again this year. We also have a fabulous coffee van serving all the delights a barista can muster!
We look forward to seeing you at this year’s event and we ask that you and your family have a happy time and are vigilant at all times as the bales can roll up at any time!!!! Our Marshals are carefully selected and trained prior to the event and this team is responsible for the “on the course” safety of spectators and competitors. We ask that all competitors and spectators especially those with children to be extra careful on the course and to obey the directions of the Marshals [who you cannot miss in their high visibility jackets!!!]. Please be aware that the practice of trying to run ahead of the bale is very dangerous and could result on serious injury … or worse. It should also be noted that competitors should wear appropriate footwear.
We always have many so individuals to thank – too many to name. Our set up team who start early on Friday morning getting the course ready for the event, our helpers on the night and the Saturday clean up team have a grim task but complete it with good humour and smiles.
Our merchandise range is available to order from The Cornishman and will be on sale on the night – look out for our new car stickers and Christmas Cards. We are also delighted to announce that our new Bale Ale is brewed, bottled and is already being sold in The Cornishman and will be available to purchase on the night.
We would of course like to thank our sponsors, competitors, spectators and supporters.