January 2, 2014: It was water, water everywhere on New Years Day (Wednesday) at Island Park when members of the Hatherleigh Fire Service were called on the perform their most pleasurable task of the year to date. Hatherleigh Walruses had organised their annual dip into the River Lew only to find that the river was running several feet above normal. That meant the proper dip could not be taken after their 'play' so the Fire guys were charged with making sure they were fully dowsed for the allotted 5 minutes once the performance was over.
The newly re-opened - and massively extended - Skate Park proved to be the ideal stage for the play, which this year paid a Walrus tribute to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1. Benny's little tank loomed from the Skate Park entrance and from its turret two intrepid commentators in battledress and helmets led us through the story. A few short historical lessons reminded us Walrus-style of key moments, including the Sarejevo assassination, the Somme, a Zeppelin, that famous Xmas football match and the eventual arrival of the Yanks to help sort things out.
But it was not all aimed at laughs. Respect for the fallen was shown during a nicely-judged final few minutes of seriousness, in which hundreds of poppies were thrown into the air and a haunting Last Post was played live. Then, after a chorus or two of Auld Lang Syne, it was down to the artillery. Water cannons rained in from four directions and much fun was had making sure those who dared confront (sometimes con-behind) the jets quickly retreated. Nothing and no-one was left dry after it was over, as Alan Beaman's video story elsewhere proves better than we can here. Finally, it was off to the bonfire to get warm and a return to battalion headquarters, no doubt for a strategic re-think about next year's 'big push'.
Funds raised this year are to be shared between Hatherleigh Youth Football, Hatherleigh Players and Hatherleigh Festival.