The true spirit of Christmas shone through after an old folks’ dinner and 300 ‘Christmas Pudding’ runners found themselves double booked.
The popular annual Christmas Pudding Run was due to set off from Longridge’s Civic Hall on Sunday morning.
But, due to a computer error, the hall had also been booked by the Rotary Club for their annual Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party – catering for 200 people.
But organisers of both events worked hard together to “save the day” and both functions went ahead.
Neil Loughbrough, on behalf of the company which runs the Civic Hall, apologised for the clash, saying it had been caused by a “computer glitch.” He added: “The true Christmas spirit shone through.”
Rotary Club community chairman Jack Giddins said what initially looked like a potential disaster came together with everybody pulling in the right direction.
What looked like it was going to be a disaster came together with everybody pulling in the right directionRotary Club community chairman Jack Giddins
“We flew by the seat of our pants,” said Mr Giddins, after the clashing of the two events came to light as he and fellow Rotarians and their wives arrived in town mid-morning ready to set up the Civic Hall and prepare the meal for the Rotary Senior Citizens’ Christmas party.
Runners, including Longridge mayor Coun Sarah Rainford, had earlier been gathering at the Civic Hall for the start of the Christmas Pudding Run, serenaded by members of Longridge Band, two of whom ran in the seven-mile race.
Rotary discovered the race had just set off from the hall, with entrants due back there afterwards, yet the club had 200 elderly people eagerly awaiting the much-looked-forward-to Christmas party.
Mr Giddins described the situation as “fraught for all of us” and said: “We normally get there for 11am at the latest because we have all the tables to set up, but we couldn’t get into Calder Avenue.
“The car park was full, the road was full and blocked with cars and the runners were just setting off and only due back at 12.30pm-1pm. We couldn’t believe it.”
The civic hall kitchen was being used by race organisers for refreshments and the hall was needed for the race presentations afterwards.
But, after speaking to race organiser Steve Ashcroft, Mr Giddins said the club was offered half of the hall, although the Rotary ladies were unable to get into the kitchen until after 1pm.
Mr Giddins praised Mr Ashcroft’s assistance, who also offered to help set up the hall after the race and said he definitely “saved the day” from their point of view.
“To cut along story short it came together very well,” said Mr Giddins, explaining they achieved everything they would normally have done with just ten minutes to spare.
The party goers were treated to a sherry reception; entertainment from the Whelan-Joyce School of Dance and buffet of turkey, ham, sausage and apple sauce and salad, fruit and cream. There was also further entertainment from Rotarian Tom Croft playing the organ during the meal; Syd Calderbank and Mark Dowding with their Lancashire repertoire and Frank Warren acting as master of ceremonies.
He said: “It went down well. What looked like it was going to be a disaster came together with everybody pulling in the right direction. Also, the runners were faced with a serious dilemna and they were great – very, very co-operative and understanding. It wasn’t anyone’s fault,” he added.
Mr Loughbrough said: “Longridge Social Enterprise Company would like to apologise for the distress and inconvenience this caused and thank Steve Ashcroft and his team for their understanding. I’d like to thank all the members of the Rotary Club for their continued support.
“We were informed the party went on as planned, but for the volunteers of LSEC that also meant having to turn the hall around again ready for the evening Christmas Bingo which was a great success.”