Return of Baffins fun day after coronavirus lockdown hailed a massive success as hundreds of people attend

ORGANISERS of a popular community event have been left overwhelmed after hundreds of people flocked to join the action.

Sunday, 22nd August 2021, 11:15 am

Scores of families from across Portsmouth attended the Baffins Together event at Tangier Field.

It was the first time the annual event, staged by the Baffins Pond Association, had been held since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baffins councillor Darren Sanders, who is among the team to set up the spectacle, was delighted by the turnout and estimated more than 1,000 people had joined the action.

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Seated, Jenny Greenleaf, 70, Joy Baldwin, 82, Trudi Baldwin, 52, Irene Kingham, 90, and Gracey Palmer, 50, with standing, Mary Stubbs, 78, and Trish Kirk, 80 Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)

‘It’s been absolutely superb,’ he said. ‘It’s much better than we envisioned.

‘This was put together in five weeks and frankly it’s amazing to see so many people coming out and organisations in the Baffins area pulling together to make this a great day for the local community.’

Families had plenty of attractions to choose from on the day, from bouncy castles and fair ground rides, to party games, live shows and community stalls.

There was also a special Second World War-inspired cream tea and dance, with dozens of pensioners invited specially to watch the fun.

Norma Waldren, 99, at the Baffins VE Day Tea. Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)

Among them was 99-year-old Norma Waldren, who moved to Baffins when she was two.

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Norma – who worked as a shorthand typist in the War Office in London during the war before moving back to Portsmouth to work in the health service – said: ‘Today has been really wonderful. It’s a pity that it rained. But I have had a lovely time.’

Pat Panter, 86, of Baffins, was also having lunch in the marquee – which was decked out with red, white and blue bunting. She said: ‘It has been brilliant. This is just what people need after Covid.’

Irene Kingham, 90, in front of her picture from 1945, which includes her mother in law and sister in law. Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)

It was a sentiment shared by Zuza Sternick, 31, of Milton, who attended the event with her daughter, Mila, three.

She said: ‘It’s been lovely. Mila has been having a great time watching all the dancing. It’s been a lovely day.’

Elsewhere, revellers enjoyed a live belly dancing routine, a dog competition and a bird of prey display by Kevin Lochner, of Hawking About.

Nine-year-old Harrison Mack was even roped into the fun as part of the show, being asked to run with training toy for one of Mr Lochner’s falcons.

Irene Kingham's picture from 1945. Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)

The youngster from Milton said: ‘It felt really cool to be part of the show. I was going to face-plant on the floor but I decided not to and fall on my back instead at the end.’

Mum Charlotte, 38, added: ‘It’s been nice to finally get out. The event isn’t as big as it normally is. But it’s still be really good fun.’

Councillor Sanders said there was a tangible sense of relief and optimism in the air after many community events were scrapped for the best part of two years amid the coronavirus crisis.

‘People have been saying they are so glad to be out and so glad this event is on,’ he said. ‘It feels like we can begin to go back to normal.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Summer O'Reilly, 12, with instructor Bev Craig from the Scarlett Rose School of Dance. Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)
The Aziza Egyptian Dancers Picture: Mike Cooter (210821)