On Saturday 20th September members of the PWRR (Princess of Wales Royal Regiment) , Godalming’s civic dignities and members of the public came together to commemorate the start of the Great War and recognise the sacrifices the nation has suffered during that and other conflicts. All proceeds went to the PWRR’s benevolent fund.
I was surprised by the very positive support the folk of Godalming gave to the fair and how ‘interactive’ or just active the event was.
You can listen here to the PWRR’s ambassador Lynn Smithwhite as to why she took on the role and what she hoped to achieve with the Vintage Fair.
Known as the Tigers, the PWRR recruits many of its officers and soldiers from Kent, Sussex, Surrey, London, Middlesex and Hampshire as well as the Isle of Wight.
It is also the only infantry regiment that recruits from the Channel Islands.
The Regiment has a long, distinguished history, having been involved in virtually every theatre of war since the Battle of Tangier in 1662.
It is the most decorated of all British Army regiments, with 57 Victoria Crosses including the VC awarded to Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry in 2004 for his valour in Iraq.
There are three PWRR battalions, two regular and one territorial. There is also a PWRR-badged rifle company within the Army Reserve’s London Regiment, at Edgware, known as B (Queen’s Regiment) Company and there are PWRR army cadet and CCF detachments all across the southern Home Counties.
The soldiers at the Godalming event had travelled there from their base in Germany.
Throughout the day music, dance and a commemorative service were shared and clearly had the support of the public.
There were some unusual sights too – the diesel, light weight Land Rover built for the Dutch still displaying its instructions in that language!
Close by were the US Army jeeps including one owned by Nick Lawrenson. The Jeeps were separated from the landrover folk by an APC – there is some competitive ‘friction’ between the Land Rover and Jeep supporters. I am just delighted that they will spend their time entertaining us with their enthusiasm and commitment keeping these ageing vehicles roadworthy and reminding us of their original purpose.
Food and drink were not forgotten and amongst other vendors there was Bluebell the Ice Cream Van (selling rhubarb and custard ice cream! And on Twitter she is @BluebelleTheICV) with her staff appropriately dressed in vintage style.
Frankly would never starve at this fair and I believe the stall holders did a good trade.
There were motor cycles on show as well. Theses came from a variety of associations including the Harley Davidson association and they attracted many people. Here’s a short conversation with the Virago Star Owners Club www.vsoc.org.uk
It seemed to me that everyone was enjoying themselves; clearly the Godalming Community Gospel Choir were!
Hear more about the GCGC at http://www.gcgc.org.uk
Even the farm produce on sale had attracted the vintage theme – though the mobile made me smile…
Lynn reports that the GodVinFair produced a profit of over £4,000 for the PWRR’s benevolent fund.
I asked many visitors what they thought of the show and a student who goes to the Military Preparation College at Farnborough told me, “This has been really interesting. I like the way the people have supported the fair and it has been fun to see the vintage vehicles and people who have come in costume. But it has also been great to meet serving and retired soldiers.” To see what the college do follow via this link http://www.mpct.co.uk/farnborough/
So what now? Well I overheard a conversation that suggests that this fabulous fair may be taken to the other counties that the Regiment recruits so that all the friends, families and ex-service personnel have an equal opportunity to join in! (Perhaps we shouldn’t share that with Lynn’s husband just yet?)
Remember you heard it here first!
I apologise to all the great folks and groups that I have missed out in this blog but frankly there was a lot going on – too much perhaps for on guy and his trusty phone to capture fully.