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Cotswold Caper

6th July 2014

Our 9th annual event

For many years now the Cotswold Caper has been growing continually from its early beginnings in 2006 when 115 cars attended.  Last year surprised us as we had a record attendance of 168 cars despite that dreaded recession.  We believe our success is built on the Cotswold Caper brand we have built over this time.  We are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and so whatever route we pick will include stunning views and our trademark narrow lanes which criss-cross Gloucestershire.  These narrow lanes enhance the experience of driving through this area


 

 

These events always take more arranging than most people appreciate.  Therefore we needed to check that all the organizing committee would be willing to continue into another year.  It was agreed by us all that the pleasure in creating an event that would give joy to hundreds of people from all over the UK and also to raise monies for local charities was too much - we were all in!

 

 


There were two immediate decisions to be made, firstly which charity to support and secondly which area of the Cotswolds would we cover.  We have tried, where possible, to support charities local to Gloucestershire.  In the past we have supported  The Gloucestershire Prostate Cancer (Brachytherapy Unit) Trust, The Cheltenham and North Cotswold Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society,  St Roses Special school in Stroud, Cotswold Care Hospice, Cloud 9 charity for terminally ill children, LINC (Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy), National Star College at Ullenwood and the James Hopkins Trust.  Our past efforts have raised over £25,000

As usual we put three charities to the vote at a club meeting and it was decided that as it was 100 years since the start of the Great War that a charity helping ex service personnel would be appropriate, so we voted for Alabaré.  They are a charity, founded in 1991, who work with vulnerable and marginalised people in our communities, to support them towards gaining the independence they need to move on with their lives. Within their homes and services they work with people who are homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, veterans, young people, and people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.


 

We were lucky enough to have had a presentation from Alabaré at one of our club meetings.  It was eye opening to learn the work the charity was doing for these ex service personnel going through hard times. 


We had not visited the South Cotswolds for a few years so we thought it was time to revisit this delightful area.  Now the hunt was on for the start and finish venue.  Also from previous Capers we knew that a decent half way stop was really appreciated by our guests.


After an extensive search we settled on both the start and end venues and even agreed where we could stop for “internal refuelling”.  All we needed now was to join the dots.  Steve and Rob have done us proud in the past so once again they were delegated the task of finding the route which involved many hours of research and driving. 


The rest of the committee were tasked with sorting entries, obtaining advertising for the Route Guide, getting the Marshals ready and filling our raffle table etc..  From past Capers we know how valuable the sight of a table groaning with prizes really is.  For many years the raffle has been a major fund raiser for us.


We have always been lucky with the weather for the runs and the reason for that is that all the bad weather happens on our rehearsal runs where we test the documentation.  This year was no exception


We had entries from many parts of the country including Essex, Wales, Dorset,  Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire as well as many from areas less far away. There were twenty one clubs from all over the UK represented.  We were very lucky that the Southampton and New Forest club attended with twelve cars and were the club with the most entrants.  Our farthest entrant had covered 192 miles to be with us again

The day eventually dawned and all the Marshals were told to report at the start, the Cirencester Football club, by 7:30 am.  Eventually all the bleary eyed helpers were there and the setting up process started.  At about 8:30 our first visitor appeared and heralded the start of a long day.  We just had time to sample the mandatory bacon rolls on offer.

Once again a good selection of MGs entered the event, MGFs and Bs were in abundance but there were also quite a few other models spanning many years of MG production


Soon there were over 150 MGs collected together ready for the run.  The air was thick with anticipation and the noise of meeting old friends from previous runs.  We have always been lucky in that around 70% of the owners were previous Caper entrants and therefore knew what we had to offer. 


As a leading advocate for Alabaré, Dame Janet Trotter DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire was the obvious choice for waving off the cars from the start.


 

 

Once the first cars were away it all began.  A parade of MGs through the streets of Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds.  On to the wheelwash, sorry a ford, that is always a popular attraction as we photograph the cars going through and creating vibrant images with water everywhere.  The faster, the better.  Paul Green from the Oxford MG club seems to be the undisputed champion of ford crossing at speed. 


 

From there onto the ancient Roman Whiteway, a trade route between Cirencester and North Wales.  Along the Drovers road, a route where Welsh cattle once abounded on the way to English markets. 
Bibury was next, once described by William Morris as “the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds”.  This houses Arlington Row where cottages date back to the 16th Century.  Henry Ford once tried to buy these and ship them back to the America. 


On through Coln Rogers which is one of only 52 thankful villages in the UK where none of its residents became casualties in World War 1


Stowell Park was next, closely followed by Chedworth Roman villa and then skirting by the Sapperton Canal tunnel built in 1789, which was the longest in the country at 3817 yards (over 2 miles) long. 
After all this sightseeing the AV8 restaurant in Cotswold Airport formerly Kemble  airfield was a welcome refuelling stop.  Kemble was famed for once being the home of the Red Arrows.


Suitably refreshed, onto Tetbury and past Highgrove house where Prince Charles waved us by (that bit’s a lie).  Down the Roman Fosse Way and through the tree lined avenues of the Badminton estate, past the Somerset monument commemorating the commander of the British forces in the Crimean war.
Once at the final stop, the Rugby club in Chipping Sodbury, raffle tickets were checked, prizes taken away and ice creams eaten.  The entrants could relax in the bar looking for the pictures of themselves going through the ford earlier that day


 

 

A presentation of a plaque was made to the Southampton and New Forest club for their attendance. 
All in all another successful conclusion for what was our ninth Cotswold Caper.  Although all the figures are not yet all in we are in line to produce a donation of almost £4000 for Alabaré.  This will be presented to them in our September club meeting

 

 


It was generally agreed that this was the best Cotswold Caper so far and many contented visitors wended their way home.  For the organisers?  Off to the pub for a well earned rest and a meal.
We really enjoyed doing the Caper, where our guests are fast becoming our friends and we can’t wait until next year.


See you next year!

September meeting saw the presentation of the cheque to Alabare. At present we have raised £3904 for them but we hope to enhance this by several hundred pounds in the near future by collection of some further sponsorship!

Pictures from the meeting can be seen below

 

 

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