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The Society For The Preservation Of Ancient Junketting

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27th August

29th August

3rd November

During 1953 two residents of the Village John Quick and Paul Bovington organised a 'Shirt Race' as a one-off event to celebrate the Coronation. The rules of the 'Shirt Race' were very simple. A team of two individuals each of whom were to be dressed in a night-shirt and with some sort of un-powered transport such as an old pram were to take it in turns to push each other from hostelry to hostelry pausing at each to down a half-pint of ale. For the race nurses from the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford were invited to attend and collect money for the hospital. Such was the success of the event however that John and Paul decided to hold it annually with the money collected going to the pensioners of the Village. The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Junketing (SPAJERS) was born!

In those early days there were some 11 pubs in the Village - at one time the Village had 13 pubs! - but at the present time, the competitors have it a bit easier, as the numbers are now down to four, although many of the residents of the houses which are ex-public houses, still get a table out and offer the drinks! There are three races at present for juniors, intermediate, and seniors, the latter two normally being combined into a single event, with prizes for the winners and runners-up, and the races are held at the Spring Bank Holiday each year. While the rules remain basically the same, various types of dress attire are now accepted, since night-shirts are rare items these days, and a shortage of them some years back nearly led to the race's demise! In fact, the fancy dress has now become a major part of the occasion; see the website's photo album for the sort of attire used!

It is ingeniously said that the origin of the 'Shirt Race' can be attributed either to the occasion, in 784 AD, when Ethelred the Shirtless, chased the burgers of Bampton through the streets in order to clothe his nakedness, or to a certain action of William the Conqueror's soldiers stationed at Shifford during the beer drought of 1067!

The SPAJERS are still going strong after 60 years - the present committee numbers 14 members - and are still raising money for the pensioners of the Village. In 2008, the Spajers finally became a Registered Charity, which allows us to claim Gift Aid on ALL donations made; anyone who regularly contributes (i.e. around half of Bampton!) can fill in a Gift Aid form and allow us to claim an 25% of each donation from HMRC!! Contact the Treasurer for the appropriate form.

The other major events run by the SPAJERS are the Village Quiz, in April each year, the Donkey Derby and Fete held on the Monday of the August Bank Holiday at Sandfords Field and in recent years, the Fireworks display which is run in partnership with the Bampton Firefighters. Not officially part of the Spajers, the Mummers, who perform their play at various locations in the village on Christmas Eve also raise money for this worthy cause; see elsewhere in the Website for the Mummers. All the money raised each year by the Spajers go entirely to the pensioners of the village; this allows them to give each pensioner a cash gift at Christmas , often a party, and an always annual outing.

If you are of pensionable age and have lived in Bampton for at least 6 months, you are eligible to "join the Spajers".

For further details, details on joining or for a gift aid form, contact:-

Chairman: Mat Green 01993 850760
Secretary: Lynne Pointer 01993 851930
Treasurer & Membership: Jeff Dando 01993 850643

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