The Future of Dover’s Games and Scuttlebrook Wake

On reading the title you may well wonder why we’re writing at all given the year we’ve all had and the perilous situation that many entertainment businesses find themselves in. We weren’t able to put on an event this year and, as I write this, next year is already looking doubtful.

Well, we’ve kept busy anyway. The lockdown and the general hardship of 2020 has taught me that Dover’s Games & Scuttlebrook Wake are about so much more than just one weekend of the year. On the face of it, they are just two events on one weekend after Whitsun, but for me and those in the people that help to stage the events, they are the subject of regular pub chat, emails and 2am text messages about ‘a new idea for next year’. I now know that it’s the same for our friends on the Scuttlebrook Wake committee too. Both are generations old and it’s up to us to ensure they are here for generations to come.

An Opportunity To Collaborate

Since I became chairman of the RDGS in 2017 I have always maintained a connection with Scuttlebrook Wake and my opposite number at SBW has done likewise. I have wondered about how we could work more closely in the future, as has happened in years gone by (The last games revival in 1951 was done by the Scuttlebrook committee and Dover’s Games only became a separate committee proper in 1965).

From the outside, the two events seem like they are one entity and you would have regularly seen the same people playing sports on the hill as you would on the back of a float the next day. Similarly, our in our annual post event survey (set up for us by the gentleman Simon Ashworth, who sadly passed away this year) people have always asked this same question.

There is no one answer, really. These things go in cycles and the two events have co-existed – however they were organised – successfully for many years, creating many wonderful memories along the way. But times change – as we have found out all to well this year! And as Albert Einstein remarked “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

The first opportunity was the chance to sit down with Paddy, the chairman of Scuttlebrook Wake and chat at great length over many ales, in the Eight Bells, The Volunteer, The Lygon and The Red Lion – we don’t like to be exclusive – about how the future looks for both events. Quite simply, we agreed from the off that the future lies in uniting the two events so that both can succeed in the future.

It’s not that both have suffered so that they need the other one, it’s because everyone holds both events dear and both events are uniquely Campden. From digital meetings, to our Spring video on the hill, the Campden Tablet and the Spirit of Dover award we unveiled this year – things are moving on and our aim is to move on, together. Not just to preserve these fabulous traditions of rural life, but to enable them to flourish, for centuries to come. To do that will take teamwork, the sharing of ideas and also costs and manpower.

Sending Our Best Wishes to People & Businesses

Many of the people and companies we have come to rely on to stage the games may not exist next year. Businesses who rely on their summers being filled with festivals and their winters with concerts, markets and Christmas events – it’s almost all been wiped out this year. To our many, regular service providers, I’d like to send a heartfelt thank you and best wishes for the future. Businesses like Clearsound, from Shipston, who have put on such an amazing audio visual display the last few years and invest so much time and money in their skills and equipment. The showmen and women who bring the fair rides to the square and have done for decades, the dance troupes, the bands and display teams too many to list here – none of them have ever experienced this before and I sincerely hope they are able to come through it and join us again.