It's off: Knaresborough Bed Race is cancelled after organisers weigh up Covid 'uncertainties'

With great regret, Knaresborough Lions Club has announced the cancellation for 2021 of its signature event: the Great Knaresborough Bed Race. This is the second year the race has been cancelled, both due to the Covid pandemic.

Friday, 29th January 2021, 9:05 am
Updated Friday, 29th January 2021, 9:10 am

The Lions have spent the past two months reviewing the feasibility of staging Bed Race, holding discussions with local authorities in North Yorkshire, and those organisations and individuals who participate, said the Lions’ committee chairman Kevin Lloyd.

He said; "We said we were looking for a clear horizon, but there is just so much uncertainty around.

Flashback to Knaresborough Bed Race in pre-Covid times -

“This is really breaking all our hearts, but we have a responsibility to put first the health and safety of everyone involved.

“We have been on government and NHS websites, and have followed the announcements of other event organisers.

"The roll-out of the vaccine programme is going very well, but we know that doesn’t answer the key questions about when it will be again safe for crowds to mingle.

He continued: “Emergency and first aid services are wholly geared to the pandemic and other serious health needs, and quite rightly so. In discussions with them there is no sign when this is going to change.

“Bed Race is a massive undertaking for a small town like Knaresborough. In normal times we have over 300 volunteers organising the event, 630 runners and bed riders, hundreds more taking part in the parades and manning charity stalls.

"Then there are the 30,000 people – and more - who come to watch. It is one of the largest and most popular events held on the public roads in the country.

“We need a minimum of four months to organise the event and because of the up-front financial commitments for an event run by volunteers to raise funds for charity, mean the risks are obviously far too great.”

Knaresborough Lions looked at later dates, but the fear is that this will cut across other activities during a period when there is no sign that conditions will have changed greatly.

Lions’ committee chairman Kevin Lloyd. said: “There are just too many unknown.

“But Bed Race will not be forgotten. It has become an institution. The people of Knaresborough will not give it up and for the Lions it will remain in our hearts.”

The Knaresborough Lions have other events lined up for the year, he said. “We will do something on Bed Race day, as we did last year.

"Probably something online which conforms with social distancing and other rules.

“We haven’t given up with our Beer Festival, scheduled for August, though again we will have to watch the situation. And we will be back with our Santa tour of Knaresborough in back-end of the year.

“Putting on events to raise money for charity and good causes will continue to be our thing. Hopefully, we will all emerge stronger and better after the end of this pandemic.”

The annual Great Knaresborough Bed Race has been held since 1966.

It costs about £30,000 to stage, but raises significantly more for charities and community causes, most of which are local.

The organiser of the event, the Knaresborough Lions Club is a registered charity, number 1177970. It is part of the volunteer community group, Lion Clubs International, with 1.5 million members worldwide.

The event galvanizes the town. Nearly everybody gets involved in one way or another, either by taking part, acting as supporters, making the beds, decorations and fancy dress, turning out to marshal the crowds, working for other charities, catering for the large number of spectators, or by simply coming out to watch.

It is well-known around the world and has inspired other Bed Races in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and throughout Europe.

As the Lions say, the great hero of Bed Race is the town of Knaresborough itself, with its spectacular scenery of gorge, medieval cobbled streets, parkland and the ever-icy River Nidd, through which competitors swim towards the end of the course.

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