This is one of the articles from Issue 86, Summer 2014.
Sunday 2nd March 2014 saw the first and possibly the last regatta to be held on the newly formed Village pond.
As many people are now aware following the prolonged rain fall towards the end of 2013 and at the beginning of 2014 the pond dip which with the exception of the odd puddle over the years has been dry since the 1930’s started to fill up. Whilst there is much speculation as to exactly why and when the pond first dried up (sewage pipes/gas pipes/Hall Aggregates at Polesden lake etc.) there is no doubt why it filled up this time, as we watched day after day, week after week as it rained and the level gradually rose.
Having probably reached its height towards the end of February a group of Village lads were sat in the Cricket Club when it was suggested that perhaps we should take a spoof photo with a boat in the pond, now we have all seen the photo of the troops watering their horses during the 1914-1918 war and it was agreed that we would take a photo for posterity’s sake.
After a few more beers it was suggested that why don’t we have a regatta with lots of boats and as the enthusiasm grew it was suggested that we could as a laugh and have a collection for the RNLI. During the week that followed much discussion took place in the pubs and Clubs of Ripley and by midweek we were also having a BBQ, the rest they say is history.
Sunday 2nd March came and with it a bitterly cold day with a strong wind. By 11 o’clock the BBQ was cooking nicely courtesy of our master chef and the pond had been staked out in a slalom course, all we needed were the people and their boats.
The first boat out was an inflatable raft and with his vest, shorts and wellies on its Captain made good progress around the pond despite the wind. This was closely followed by a wooden rowing boat off the River Wey, a kayak, two canoes and numerous remote controlled boats. In addition to the boats a large number of yellow plastic ducks found their way onto the water and with the help of the wind navigated across the pond quite nicely, we even had our own lifeguard with waders to assist with any boats that ran aground in the shallow waters.
By 1 o’clock everyone whilst having had a great day, a chat with friends and plenty to eat were thoroughly frozen to the bone and so most retired to the Cricket Club to warm up, have a beer and finish off the BBQ leftovers, but before we all left we were treated to a lament by a lone piper from the Village, standing albeit not up to his waist in the middle of the pond, playing to the delight of the crowd.
The day was a great success with nearly 100 villagers attending during the morning which just goes to show the community spirit we have in the Village. Earlier it was mentioned this all started as a spoof and as a laugh we were going to have a collection for the RNLI. We are proud to announce that the Village of Ripley whilst land locked and many miles from the sea raised £340.00 for the RNLI, a fantastic achievement and thank you all.
As this article is being written the pond is gradually going down, the likes of which may never be seen again and as the pond dip dries out we can all look forward to another fantastic Ripley event – Ripley Bonfire Night.