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In autumn 2009, Paul Barnes and Emma Stevenson were approached by the South Normanton Gala Committee and asked if they would consider taking on the organisation of the annual South Normanton Gala. Eventually Paul and Emma agreed to this and with a group of friends including Shelley Barnes, Mick Brough, Martyn West, Lauren West arranged our first Gala which was held on the Top Rec. At this time we didn’t have many volunteers and Paul and Emma have never made it common knowledge that they organised the 2011 Gala in 2 weeks! Something we have never done again.
In 2011 the Gala moved to South Normanton Athletic Football Club with support from friends. Workshops were held in schools and children made flowers and took part in the parade. We hired a marquee that year and recall a pole coming loose and falling onto someone. The tug-of-war began and was won that year by the Hawthorns. In 2012 we had a year off. This was due to work, family and educational commitments, however we returned in 2013 with a couple of extra volunteers including John Cox. We did take a bit longer than 2 weeks to organise but are unsure what we did.
In 2014 we recruited a few more volunteers and spent a bit more time organising and honing our skills. 1 member of the Gala Crew joined in the tug of war competition and enjoyed it so said he would like to volunteer. Chris Hyde has never left us since!!!
It was around this time that we were asked if we had ever considered doing a Christmas Fair. We hadn’t but we decided to go ahead with it. Some of us could recall the Round Table doing a sleigh tour when our children were younger so we decided to re-introduce the sleigh tour. Initially we thought we would purchase a sleigh, but at £2000 we decided to build our own. Luckily 1 of the Gala Crew is a qualified joiner so plans were purchased but were too small so we drew a large sleigh that we thought would suffice and construction commenced. Amid the excitement of the sleigh build the builders got a little carried away and an error occurred to the sleigh. We are sure only the Gala Crew are aware of the fault with the sleigh????
Following many litres of red paint and a few strings of fairy lights the sleigh was completed. We persuaded a local upholstery company to supply fabric and we upholstered the seats. The RAF loaned us a Hawker Hunter jet control panel. We just needed a Santa Claus. Luckily we were able to find one so off we set with our first Christmas Fair and sleigh tour.
It was following our sleigh tour that we were contacted by Reece who said he liked the sleigh but thought it needed a few more lights. The following year our sleigh went to Reece for 1 week and the sleigh was lit up as it is now.
Throughout this time we had continued to be involved in the Keeley Wardley Santa Walk which a few of us instigated. Eventually we persuaded Vicki Wardley to join us on The Gala Crew and Vicki suggested we approach Leanne Byard to join us.
As many will remember 2016 proved to be our wetest Gala ever. Our event was more like Glastonbury and the Top Rec was just mud following the Gala. We will never have a Gala as bad as 2016.
Our meeting venue changed and we began to meet at The Clock Inn, which is now the official home of the Gala Crew. It was during meetings that Edward Skinner would occasionally offer us advice. Eventually we asked Ed if he would like to join us. Cathryn Garlick, although not a Gala Crew member has continued to fundraise for the Gala Crew. We introduced our lottery draws to help us raise money for our events.
In 2017 Karl Sabin joined the Gala Crew. The Gala Crew has not really changed much recently. We have had other members but such a lot of time is needed to put on the Gala Crew events that not everyone is able to commit to the time required. People have remained involved supporting us prepare for events if needed. Lesley Watkinson, Paul Wilson and Emily Dale all help us. Andrew Brett has managed the beer tent for us since @2014. Our children have now become involved – Keeley Barnes, Josh Stevenson, Thomas Barnes, Harry Stevenson, Jack Cullum, Bailey Wardley have all supported us wearing character costumes, serving on the bar etc. We have the Gala Crew secured with the next generation.
It takes us @18 months to organise the annual Gala. All money raised or donated from local businesses or individuals goes towards the Gala. Grants have been secured by Derbyshire County Councillors to help us.
We continue to develop our events each year trying to improve on the previous year. We are currently working on new and exciting projects. We have introduced the Lamp-post poppies to South Normanton, the Gala Crew Community Christmas Tree, the South Normanton Poppy Rocks, the sweet drops etc etc. We are unsure what we will be doing next but watch this space