File this one under health & safety gone mad……
Gloucestershire Police have warned 86-year-old Diana Smart that she must not supply the 7lb Double Gloucester cheese for this years famous Cheese-Rolling and Wake that will be held at Cooper’s Hill, or be deemed liable for any injuries that may occur.
The reasoning behind the police warning is down to the fact that the event has no official organiser, meaning that by supplying the cheese would make her an organiser by default due to their being no official organiser. Mrs Smart has been supplying the famous cheese for the event since 1988, which is made at her family run farm in Churcham, Gloucestershire. Mrs Smart commented about the warning saying:
We are not allowed to give them cheese this year. The police came to my farm and said it could cause us an enormous amount of damages. I just have to take it as they have said. We cannot do anything about it. It’s crackers the fact that the police came round and warned me not to give the event some cheese. I like doing it, it’s always brought me such joy and a smile. The police were so heavy-handed. They threatened me, saying I would be wholly responsible if anyone got injured. I’m 86, I don’t have the will or the cash to fight any lawsuits. It’s crazy.
Since the early 1800’s a cheese has been chased down the 200 yard, one in three, hill. But after an estimated 15,000 people tried to watch in 2009, organisers of the 2010 event were forced to cancel on the advice of police and councils. In total there are 5 races held on the day, which is always the last Monday in May, (Spring Bank Holiday) 3 for the boys and 2 for the girls at 20-minute intervals.
Even with the bizarre threats by the police, this years competition, is fully expected to carry-on the tradition and will take place on Monday 27th May. Local in Brockworth, where the event takes place, are furious about the latest threat to the traditional competition.
It’s outrageous,” said one organiser, who plans to hold the cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill on Monday regardless. You cannot stop someone selling cheese. If they try to stop us, we will use something else or get some cheese elsewhere.
The only other times in the history of the event where a roll of cheese wasn’t used, was during the last war when rationing forced the organisers to use a wooden ‘cheese’ between the years 1941 to 1954. On an interesting side-note, actor Simon Pegg was born in Brockworth, but it isn’t known if he has ever entered the race. I have asked him via Twitter, so will update and let you know if he has.
Below you can checkout some of the highlights from the 2012 Cheese-Rolling and Wake competition that shows just how much fun and popular the event is:
Six time champion Chris Anderson