No hitches for the flitch trials

PUBLISHED: 13:38 02 May 2008 | UPDATED: 06:59 30 May 2010

Helen Wildman

Helen Wildman

AS the weather turned decidedly summery at the weekend, the long awaited Flitch Trials came another step closer. This week, in our weekly flitch build up, we meet the chair of the organising committee and discover just what it takes to ensure that the fli

AS the weather turned decidedly summery at the weekend, the long awaited Flitch Trials came another step closer.

This week, in our weekly flitch build up, we meet the chair of the organising committee and discover just what it takes to ensure that the flitch goes ahead, without a hitch.

Helen Wildman, 29, chairs a committee of nine other people who are responsible for organising Flitch 2008.

She said: "We begin the process two and a half years before the event by sitting down and analysing the last one, and welcoming any new members to the committee, who are always appreciated."

Helen has been on the committee for 12 years, joining in 2000 and chairing the 2004 trials, and has a wealth of experience in her committee, with judge Michael Chapman and councillor John Davey presiding over more than eight trials between them.

She said: "We try and draw on everybody's skills and experience for the trials to ensure we get it right year on year. Our biggest fear is the weather because a lot of what goes on takes place outside."

The logistics of hosting the traditional day are on a grand scale, applications for road closures are handed in a year in advance and the date is selected to avoid any major national events such as tennis at Wimbledon.

Each member is charged with co-ordinating a designated aspect, from Jim McNeil for sponsorship to Jackie Martin and Jacqui Bailey for booking stalls, creating tickets and websites.

"I am always impressed by the willingness of local residents to come down and help on the day, it is really appreciated every time," said Helen. She is encouraging new residents in Dunmow to get in touch and help out with a famous town tradition by calling 01371 870373.

But what can we expect this year? Helen didn't want to give away too much but did tell us to look forward to three trial sessions on the day, one trial in the morning, two more trials in the afternoon, and a further two in the evening, and a whole host of activities including local produce stalls in Market Place, a fete including local community groups and charities, a large arena to host the majorettes and St Mary's School band, model boats on the Doctors Pond, a classic car collection, and traditional hog roast.

She said: "We owe it to the committee members and everybody who has assisted them, this year will be a tremendous event."

The committee members for this year's trials are Jackie Martin (Field Events manager), Mark Jones (treasurer), Jacqui Bailey (ticket manager), Audrey McNeill (secretary), Jim McNeill (sponsorship manager), Graeme Wade (publicity manager), John Davey and Clive Smith (town council liaisons), Michael Chapman (Flitch judge) and Helen Wildman (committee chairman and event manager).

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