The 2017 Poohsticks Championships was a year of great numbers and a new champion

What an action-packed championships that was. Our third year on the River Windrush on Langel Common in Witney turned out to be another success and the event grows and grows.

A busy morning putting up tents, setting up stalls, erecting signs and preparing the bridge. With lots of volunteers on site including Witney Scouts and Witney Air Training Corps cadets. By midday, David, our essential ‘man in the canoe’ was in position and ready to retrieve the sticks as they flowed beyond the finish line.

Laura from Whitley Stimpson, our main sponsor of this year’s championships, opened the event, and dropped the first poohstick over the bridge. From this moment on it was full-steam ahead as the team games were well underway, with 24 teams competing against each other. In the end the team Kanga Roo Pooh from East Hanney, so named because their dogs are called Kanga and Roo, were the team champions of 2017.

Team Games 1st place: Kanga Roo Pooh

In 2nd place was Team Whitley Stimpson 2 from Witney and in 3rd place was Team Pooh Sticks!

Onto the individual games and the performances of the wannabe champions, of all ages and sizes, were fast paced and exciting. People were cheering on the sticks floating down the river, especially in the final rounds. In the end it was Daniel Gooding from Oxford, aged 6, who won the 2017 Championships and took home the 1st place prizes.

2017 Champion Daniel Gooding from Oxford

In 2nd place was Claire Brookes from Long Hanborough and in 3rd place was Samuel Elliott from Witney.

Throughout the day there was great food and drink, much fun to be had on splat the rat and hook a duck, and great live music from the Witney Music Festival team. Pooh Bear and Tigger bounced around for the day, (a few of us were worried that they need to learn to pace themselves, they may have had creaking joints the next day), Rapunzel visited and delighted many young girls with her princess dress and magical hair, and the team from Eynsham Primary School showed many of us how to make willow fish. It may not have been sunny all day long, but that didn’t stop our visitors having fun and our determined competitors from queueing up for the chance to be champions.

We even had a visit from Ben Fogle at the championships! Author, broadcaster, writer and adventurer, he took part in the individual event however sadly did not make it through to the second round. He had recently returned from Canada to take part in another quirky British event – the Cheese Rolling Race in Gloucester on the previous Sunday. See his tweets at #worldpoohstickschampionships.

It was a “Purple-icious Poohsticks” with many of the volunteers wearing something purple to raise awareness of Rotary’s Purple4Polio campaign. Some of the teams had also dressed in purple and the Rotary District Governor, Joy Arnott, sported a purple wig for the occasion of presenting the individual winners with their prizes and by coincidence the Whitley Stimpson teams were also in their company colour of purple. And most exciting of all – it was a purple poohstick that helped Daniel Gooding win the 2017 Championships.

District Govenor Joy Arnott with her purple wig, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger

The reason for the colour purple in the campaign to fight Polio is because once children receive the Polio vaccine their little finger is marked with purple ink. Rotary has been campaigning and working towards the eradication of polio since the mid 1980’s. In partnership with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the Centres for Disease Control and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the campaign has succeeded in bringing cases of polio down from 350,000 per year to 37 in 2016 and just 5 so far in 2017 across the three countries Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

We would like to thank all our sponsors. Without their generosity the World Pooh Sticks Championships would not be possible.

We would also like to thank all the groups and volunteers that supported us at the event. They all contributed to the success.

And of course big thanks to Pooh Bear, Tigger and Rapunzel.

See you at the 2018 Championships! We plan on announcing the date for the 2018 championships in the next month or so.

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