Mum rescues Pewsey Carnival wheelbarrow race

This Is Wiltshire: Suzy Stephens, with daughter Elsa, is the new wheelbarrow race organiser Suzy Stephens, with daughter Elsa, is the new wheelbarrow race organiser

Pewsey Carnival’s famous wheelbarrow race has been saved, now that volunteer Suzy Stephens has come forward to organise the gala event in September.

The 40-year-old lives in the High Street with her husband Adam, and three daughters Imogen, Nell and Elsa and went to her first Pewsey Carnival in 2007.

She said: “I saw it was going to be cancelled if nobody stepped forward, so I decided to give it a go. My husband said, ‘You must be mad; haven’t you got enough on your plate?’

“The first time I saw the wheelbarrow race, I was shell-shocked. It was hilarious and it’s really good fun to watch.

“I love the way people dress up. The concepts for the costumes are fantastic.

“We always watch the start, the parade is great and the river is a key element; it’s part of what makes it hilarious.”

Mrs Stephens is a former racehorse trainer, who now works in the publishing industry. She plans to encourage people from outside the village to take part in the race, which last year attracted 208 teams, by making better use of social networking sites.

She said: “The more people that come in for the wheelbarrow race, the more will come to the Saturday procession.

“It’s unique; I don’t know anywhere that does anything similar. If the village continues to support it, I can see it running for many more years to come.

“If I can get 20 more teams and it goes off without a hitch, then I’ve done well.”

Her husband has lived in the area since he was seven and her mother-in-law, Di Stephens, is one of the carnival directors and runs Cossor’s Shop, which supports the carnival.

Mrs Stephens has taken part in the wheelbarrow race once, with her husband and his brother, Neil.

“They were Chas ’n’ Dave and I was the rabbit from their song Rabbit,” she said. “I hate being in the limelight, so I was very disguised. I’d rather be organising things than participating.”

A reorganisation of the carnival structure, combined with a number of volunteers stepping down, including former wheelbarrow race organiser Keith Lang, meant that the future of the event was in jeopardy at the beginning of the year.

A village dressing director is still needed to oversee the carnival street-lighting, river display and fairy lights.

To offer to help out with the wheelbarrow race organising, contact Bernie Bradshaw at chairman@pewsey-carnival.org.uk

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