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In pictures: Weird and wacky soap box cars head for the hills and raise thousands

Organisers of a soap box derby were stunned at the massive turnout to their first event since covid.

Richards Castle Soap Box Derby family day out with cart racing
Richards Castle Soap Box Derby family day out with cart racing

The narrow single track roads were blocked in the one-way approaches to Hanway Common, near Richards Castle, on Sunday after the blustery winds blew down a crucial sign.

The event involves people running their home made soap boxes down the hill over a fixed route. It is not a race and involves the soap boxes running against the clock over a number of runs down the hill.

There was a weird and wonderful range of cars

Organisers estimate that the day would have brought in well in excess of £10,000 for three charities. This year's beneficiaries are Hope Centre, Bromyard, Ludlow Men's Shed and the Ludlow Ukrainian Support Group.

Humphrey Salwey, the Soap Box Derby's chairman, was delighted by the "absolutely fantastic" turnout which he estimated to number 1,500 visitors and competitors to the hillside venue.

"It was slightly overwhelming, we struggled as volunteers at one point but we have done it."

There was a weird and wonderful range of cars

Once people were encouraged to pay by cash instead of waiting for card payments to clear the traffic began to flow in once and even during the afternoon there was a steady flow of cars onto the grassy site.

Mr Salwey said some of the queues were caused by delays in card reading machines. "Everybody was having a great time and the weather held for us. We are absolutely delighted to be able to raise the money."

A contestant is assisted off the road

This year there were a record number of 38 soap boxes with the inventors impressing with their creativity. Among the inventions provoking oohs, ahhs and chuckles from the roped off crowd were a spaceship, a replica Only Fools and Horses Trotters Independent Traders van complete with smoke, and a Second World War style Tiger Tank.

Tank pilot Neave Wright-Cook

Mr Salwey praised his team of 13 volunteers who have been involved in the nine months of planning that lead up to what members of the public see at the derby.

The organisers were joined by young people from the Ludlow Air Cadets who were helping out in the car park as one of the events they are invited to every year.

An Only Fools and Horses-themed car

Warrant Officer Maureen Daw, who was in charge of her team of 10 on the day, said: "It was a fantastic turnout, I have never seen it so busy and I have been coming for seven or eight years."

Ms Daw said there was always space for more young boys and girls in the Ludlow squadron of the Air Training Corps and encouraged anyone interested to get in touch.

The setting was fantastic

Among the competitors were Amy and Lee Randall-Smith plus other members of their family, including Amy's dad Bruce Burrow, aged 64.

They had travelled for one and a half hours from Gloucestershire to be there with their creations. This time round the competition was timing the cars, not the drivers, so they wert taking turns in trying to zip down the long course as fast as possible.

Martin Hughes

As the Shropshire Star arrived in their pit, Amy, 38, arrived in her Runaway Baby creation. It looks like a baby in a pram, complete with shopping in the front, and it bumped and sped down the course in 56 seconds, Amy managing a nifty turn as she finished her race.

Her husband Lee had household bragging rights after his run of 50 seconds. He was riding in his sturdy "it's not motocross" vintage style soapbox. It was named that because Lee is a motocross fan.

Mike Slater and Dave Bithell with their creation

Also among the myriad people were friends Phil Wheeler and John Cantor, from Machynlleth. John, a trumpet player, sat on a cycle, which was attached to Phil on the piano and it made quite a sight as it too made a run down the hill, attached to a safety rope.

For Phil and John it was the first outing for their creation which they hope to take to events to help raise charity funds.

Phil said: "The turnout is great. There is a lovely atmosphere and it is really nice."

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