Ricky's Tug of War WILL continue

September 2017 - Rickmansworth's annual festival is a high spot every year for hundreds of boaters rumours have been rife that its famous boat Tug of War would not be happening in 2018 but Peter Underwood – himself a big fan of the event – has some reassuring news.

It was the announcement of the retirement of Adrian Bull and Chris Bennett as boat-roof commentators at the tug-of war event that triggered all sorts of suggestions that the tradition of pitting one historic boat against another at the Rickmansworth Festival would come to an end.

The rumours have now prompted an open letter from John Brice, Waterspace Manager at the Festival for many years – and due to retire himself after the 2018 event – putting the record straight.

He says he wants to “clear up a misunderstanding about the future of the tug of war and some changes we will be making for the 2018 festival”.

John says: “I would publicly like to thank Adrian Bull and Chris Bennett as presenters of the Ricky Tug of War for the past 20 years, for putting on a spectacular show every year that has been popular and entertaining and characterises the Spirit of Ricky. Both of them have given it their all, and decided that now is the time to quit; they deserve to be applauded.”

He goes on to spell it out: “Sadly this chapter has ended, but on a happy note the book has not closed, the Tug of War will live on in 2018.

“Every person within the team that Chris had put together has pledged their support to carry on with the event, and I’m currently talking to someone who has shown interest to compere it on one of the days, so there is still a vacancy for another compere. If you are interested in joining the team specifically for the Tug of War please contact me.

He also tells boaters that: “2018 will be my last year as Waterspace Manager, Phil Bassett will be stepping up to shadow my position in 2018 and will take over in 2019.”

But John Brice is not resting on his laurels. He spells out some changes he wants to make: “I would like to bring lock keepers back to Batchworth at festival time just like we used to do.

“A lot happens at Batchworth with boat trips, a café and great music. The addition of lock keepers preferably in traditional costume would complete the scene conveying a message “welcome to our festival” to visiting boaters. If you would like to join a team of lock-keepers we can make light work with this task, please give me a call.”

He points out that the Rickmansworth Festival 2018 will be the Silver Jubilee: “A milestone that has to be celebrated. Twenty Five years is a fantastic achievement for any festival, and before anyone reminds me that some stalwart boaters turned up for the cancelled flooded festival of 2001, this will be their 26th attended!

“Another amazing fact is that everyone working on the festival are volunteers, many of them boaters, and the festival has grown from strength to strength, which is a credit to all those who have got involved over the years, and demonstrates what can be achieved by volunteering.

“We want you all to join in and be part of the festival celebrations, decorate your boats, no excuse for this festival, Silver Jubilee is the theme. We require a team of interested boaters specifically to plan and organise Jubilee events and decorations etc for the Waterspace, so if this interests you we welcome your ideas , and better still come and join in to help to organise it.

If you think you can help John and the Ricky Festival in any way call him on 07740 733241 or email john.brice@waterways.co.uk

Photos: (1st) Tug of War victories and defeats, (2nd) Tug of War victories and defeats, (3rd) The Tug of War is a big attraction to visitors, (4th) Adrian Bull and Chris Bennett in rooftop action, (5th) Adrian enjoys a joke - even if he sometimes gets wet, (6th) Tug of War victories and defeats, (7th) Rickmansworth Waterways Trust.

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