Spring comes to Heathfield as first cuckoo flies

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DESPITE the much-needed rain sluicing past the windows, tomorrow is the day when spring comes to Heathfield.

The ancient medieaval ceremony of the Heffle Cuckoo Fair hits town from mid-morning and Dame Heffle guarantees the sun will come out when she releases her ‘cuckoo’ from its basket, officially the first of spring.

The ceremony will be re-enacted at Cade Street, in and around the Goward Hall and Half Moon Pub in Old Heathfield from 11am onwards. For modern four-wheeled visitors, there’s a park and ride service from Heathfield Market car park and admission to the fair is free.

The first event of the day is a procession from Heathfield Community College to the Cade Street recreation ground led by Dame Heffle who will ride in a new carriage. She will be followed by children from local schools dressed in fantastic costumes.

After the announcement by the Town Crier, the fair proper begins when Dame Heffle releases her cuckoo. Then children from All Saints and St Richard’s School will sing Rudyard Kipling’s Heffle Cuckoo Fair song before the entertainment starts. Organiser Audrey Milton promises it’s bigger and better than ever this year.

Look out for the stilt walker and the timeless magic of the Summer Solstice Morris Dancers. There will be a fun dog show and this year gallant terriers will also be racing – any can enter, so don’t miss the fun. Youngsters will enjoy seeing Worzel Gummidge riding on a trailer. Organisations like the WI will be setting up displays in Goward Hall and families can enjoy food and drink all day. And after the fair closes there will be barn dance in Goward Hall from 7pm. Scarecrows created specially for the fair will displayed all day. Audrey said: “Every penny we raise goes to community nurses working for Demelza Hospice Care for Children to help look after youngsters in their homes.”