Pagham Pram Race cancelled for second year in a row

The Pagham Pram Race, which takes place in Pagham every boxing day, has been cancelled for the second year in a row.

Organisers cited a number of reasons for the cancellation, many of them logistical and all of them caused by problems related to Covid-19.

“It’s not about the money,” said Pagham Pram Race treasurer Andrew Goodwill. “We have enough money to run (the event). What we do every year is we keep what we estimate to be the running costs of the race for the following year. We’ve always got that in the bank, so that’s not the issue.

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“The issue is the gamble. Because Arun District Council told us that it’s very likely that there will be new restrictions over the Christmas period. Even if it’s just masks or social distancing, we couldn’t police that and we’d be personally liable, as committee members, for fines.

The 2010 Pagham Pram Race. Picture: Bill Shimmin C102194* SUS-201221-100031003

“We know that Pagham has an elderly population, and the people that come for the pram race do so from all over the South East. We do not want to bring the virus into Pagham.”

Alongside fears that the pram race might lead to a spike in Covid-19 numbers, Mr Goodwill said that the pram race was untenable because Arun District Council could pull support for the event at a moment’s notice, in anticipation of sudden changes to government policy.

“It was very much a ‘it’s a yes today but it could be a ‘no’ tomorrow’ sort of thing,” Mr Goodwill said.

That condition made the pram race, in Mr Goodwill’s and the rest of the committee’s eyes, simply impractical.

Even so, he said the cancellation was a “very, very difficult decision to make,” not least because last year’s event was also cancelled due to Covid-19, the first time a Pagham Pram Race had not gone ahead since its inception in 1946, when a group of demobilised servicemen decided to race prams through Pagham, the prize a Christmas fruit cake.

Starting off at the mill on Pagham Road and passing The Bear, The Lamb and The King’s Beach on an approximately three mile course, the Pagham Pram Race now raises money for a variety of local causes.

That, Mr Goodwill said, is perhaps the most tragic part of the cancellation.

“It means a lot to all the good causes we raise money for. We raised around £20,000 last time we distributed money.

“We tend to want to give it to the people and the groups who’d struggle to raise it for themselves. We’re not into giving it to big charities, really. We’re into giving it to the small ones, like the scouts, the guides and the sea cadets.That sort of thing.

Arun District Council has been approached for comment.