Crowds pack out village as horses take to the street

FAST MOVER A horse and rider run through the middle of Wickham during the annual Wickham Horse Fair

FAST MOVER A horse and rider run through the middle of Wickham during the annual Wickham Horse Fair

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HUNDREDS of people turned out to watch daredevil riders thunder through the streets of Wickham on horseback.

Members of the travelling community came from across the UK to trade in the animals.

BUSY People at Wickham Horse Fair watching the animals being run up the street

BUSY People at Wickham Horse Fair watching the animals being run up the street

The event, which takes place in the village each May, dates back to the 13th century when Wickham was granted a royal charter.

Local farmer Kevin Mailing, 37, was there with girlfriend Vicky Sparshott, 29. He said: ‘I come most years and I like it a lot. I don’t think too many people are put out by it. It’s been going for however many hundreds of years and it should keep going just as long.

‘It’s been getting bigger over the years, if anything.’

Miss Sparshott said: ‘It’s my first time and it’s a nice day out for the family – it’s a good show and there’s a lot of lovely horses here.’

The hit Channel 4 TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has sparked renewed interest in the lifestyles of the gypsy and travelling communities in recent years.

Retired Ray Picton from Portchester was there for his first visit along with his family, and said: ‘It’s very interesting because you get such a mixture of people.

‘It’s not at all what I was expecting here.

‘We did watch that programme – there’s quite a lot of gypsy-folk here and some interesting looks. It’s great.’

GPs John and Sarah Warwick are regulars.

Mr Warwick, 55, said: ‘I grew up in Wickham and I’ve been coming all my life. We look forward to it.’

Mrs Warwick added: ‘It does disrupt the village for the day, but it’s worth it.’

Police closed roads around the village for the day and kept a strong presence.

There were no reports of any trouble.

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