After another successful Fête it's time to unveil the winners of the Flying Teddies. A total of 90 furry oddities took to the air this year. Most were entered by people from Titchmarsh, but others came from as far away as South Wales and Wiltshire. It was a fairly breezy day and it was therefore no surprise that most of the teddies stayed aloft for considerably longer than last year. In first place was "Summer" from Denford with a time of 61.7 seconds. That's a whopping 20 seconds longer than the winner from 2015! In second place, not far behind, was Claudia Webb's "Dorothy" which managed 52.4. Third place went to "Leo" entered by Phoebe Gill which flew for 46 seconds.
As in previous years a number teddies didn't make it very far at all and ended up on the church roof. One even got wrapped around a telephone wire!
Note: If you're still looking for your lost ted it's always a good idea to check the village shop.
At this point I must make a special mention about "Her Majesty" - a teddy entered by local Lucy Milner. It is perhaps fitting and curiously coincidental that a teddy bearing such a regal name on the occasion of her majesty's 90th birthday should finish in 90th place (out of 90). Uncanny!
Congratualations to everyone who took part.
Meanwhile Up on the Roof...
There can't be many people who haven't heard of the famous Titchmarsh Flying Teddies. They've been a feature of our Fête for years. However, what is perhaps less well known is what goes on atop the church tower before the teddies take to the air. Once a teddy is registered it is first tagged and then carefully stored in a black bag ready to be taken up the tower. Access to the roof is notoriously difficult. In order to get up there you must first climb a narrow, tightly-winding staircase. This takes you approximately 2 thirds of the way up to a platform where the church bells are installed. At this point you notice the tiny roof hatch located some 30 feet above your head. The only way you can get through it is by clambering up a succession of ladders positioned at odd angles above the bells.
(Note: If you're familiar with the famous "Relativity" drawing by M.C.Escher then you'll have some idea what this looks like!)
Once through the roof hatch you find yourself on top of the tower. However, as the way is both tricky and narrow the teddies take a slightly different route. A rope is let down and the bags are hauled up one after another. You'd be forgiven for thinking that's all there is to it, but the fun has only just begun. In order to allow the teddies to be launched in a timely manner, they must now be laid out in the correct order. This is no simple task, not least because it's quite breezy on top of the tower and each teddy is wearing a parachute. It only takes a tiny gust to snatch one up and send it careening towards the edge of the roof. It's probably for this reason that there are often 4 people or more on the roof trying to keep things in order. This year's launch team was comprised of Paul Milner, Dickie Rowe, Stephen Barber and Geoff Love. Once the event is underway it is Dickie and Paul's job to launch the teddies. Their vantage point also allows them to indicate when a teddy has landed to the time keepers on the ground. Meanwhile, Geoff and Stephen prepare the next entries and ensure none of the others try to fly away too soon.
The pictures below tell the story.