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Flooding forces show’s cancellation

THE HORRENDOUSLY wet weather of last month, which has made this summer the wettest since records began in 1766, forced the cancellation of the Progressive Ragdoll Breed Club’s show in Alcester, Warwickshire on July 21st.

Consistently steady rains had caused the Rivers Alne and Arrow to burst their banks. As Alcester sits at the junction of both rivers, it was not long before the high street and most of the main town was under several feet of water and there was a dinstinct danger that the Grieg Hall, the show venue, would be flooded too.

Show Manager Brian Ashworth and his wife Anne, who was Assistant Show Manager was faced with an unenviable decision when faced with the grim facts, not something any Show Managers would relish.

Brian said ‘It had taken us 5 hours to travel the 120 miles to our overnight destination, a further two hours to do the 12 miles to the Show venue. Tricia and Rachel Hart took 11 hours to get from Plymouth to the same overnight hotel. Our journey to the venue involved meeting flood after flood and eventually turning back and trying another route, all this time we were in contact with both the penning people and a couple of advance party who had reached the hall.’

The news Brian received was not good; the view was that the penning company’s equipment might be at risk, the Hall staff had never seen such high levels on the river and local news media were advising people to stay indoors for 24 hours.

Brian continues: ‘The river next to the Hall is usually ankle deep and only about 5 or 6 feet below road level - the sight greeting us on arrival was very different - the water was lapping the underside of the arch to the road bridge from the High Street and also the verge of the grass strip running from the Hall to the now invisible river bank. Police were on each side of the bridge and whilst we were able to cross it, it was clear that with a river that had risen two feet in two hours, things were only going to get worse. The decision was in that sense simple to make but heartbreaking.

‘Our sole concern was for the cats and exhibitors travelling - those that didn’t already have problems themselves. We could not afford even the slightest risk of insisting the hall be set up only to arrive this morning and find that the Hall had flooded by which time people had set off and were arriving.

‘We therefore spent the next 2 hours phoning exhibitors, leaving messages or emailing, we believe everyone was contacted by one method or another - if we missed you out we can only apologise. Our decision was totally vindicated by news that has reached us today that the Hall was this morning inaccessible - the High Street was flooded as was the access road from the other direction.’

Three of the booked judges had made it through after undergoing horrendous journeys, but understood the situation only too well and returned home, thankfully safely. Brian expressed sincere thanks to the judges from the Show Management for their understanding.

Malcolm’s Penning also fell foul of the flooding. Having struggled for over six hours to reach the venue, they were advised by the police to remain at the venue if possible rather than risk being caught up by trying drive through in the floodwaters. However, they made it through the waters via a different route and returned home safely.

Brian remains philosophical about the loss of the show: ‘To those of you who have emailed us, we thank you sincerely for your kind thoughts and words - yes we are, to coin the phrase, ‘gutted’, but this is a hobby, the cats do not ask to come and their welfare comes first - with the news broadcasts at present, the cancellation of our show is nothing compared to the suffering of others and their homes. There is another year; there will be another Show.

‘Unfortunately, there is now more work to be done than if the Show had gone ahead. We therefore ask for your patience and understanding as we work our way through the issues now involved to arrange full refund of your entry fees and where appropriate, stall bookings.’