The Society For The Preservation Of Ancient Junketting

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Donkey Derby - a great success!
Thank you to everyone who helped make the Donkey Derby such a great success this year. What a fabulous day we had - fun and sunshine all round! We are very grateful to all our volunteers and stallholders and to everyone who came along to enjoy the afternoon. Special thanks, of course, go to our wonderful donkeys who travel from Weston-Super-Mare every year!

Summer visits for our members
We have taken around 90 members on two trips during August. There was a shorter visit to Buscot to look around the house and grounds, followed by a cream tea, and 70 members went to Weston-Super-Mare for the day. Although the weather was not entirely kind, we all had a good time in true British tradition!

SPAJERS is our local village charity, raising money to support our pensioners. We do this by running and preserving Bampton's traditional events, providing fun and enjoyment for all Bampton families, whilst also raising funds.  The very active members of the SPAJERS committee are supported by an enormous team of volunteers who give their time to help.  


All the money raised each year by SPAJERS goes entirely to the pensioners of the village; each receiving a cash gift at Christmas, as well as annual outings, usually to the sea-side and often a shorter trip, too.

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Our major events are the Shirt Race on the Saturday of May Bank Holiday, the Donkey Derby and Fete held on the Monday of the August Bank Holiday at Sandfords Field and the annual Village Fireworks display which is run in partnership with the Bampton Firefighters.  The Mummers, although not officially part of SPAJERS, who perform their famous play at various locations in the village on Christmas Eve, also raise money for this worthy cause (see elsewhere in the Website for the Mummers). 

If you are over the age of 65 and have lived in Bampton for at least 6 months, you are eligible to join Spajers".

For further details on joining or if you would like to help, please contact:-
Suzy Macpherson: 07811 676078
Secretary: Lynne Pointer 01993 851930

The History of SPAJERS

During 1953 two residents of the Village John Quick and Paul Bovington organised a 'Shirt Race' as a one-off event to celebrate the Coronation. The rules of the 'Shirt Race' were very simple. A team of two individuals each of whom were to be dressed in a night-shirt and with some sort of un-powered transport such as an old pram were to take it in turns to push each other from hostelry to hostelry pausing at each to down a half-pint of ale. For the race, nurses from the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford were invited to attend and collect money for the hospital. Such was the success of the event however that John and Paul decided to hold it annually with the money collected going to the pensioners of the Village. The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Junketing (SPAJERS) was born!

In those early days there were some 11 pubs in the village - at one time the village had 13 pubs! - but at the present time the competitors have it a bit easier as the numbers are now down to four, although many of the residents of the houses which are ex-public houses, still get a table out and offer the drinks! There are three races at present, for Juniors, Intermediate’s, and Seniors, the latter two sometimes being combined into a single event, with prizes for the winners and runners-up.  There are also Chariot trophies for the best Adult and Junior Fancy Dress teams of 3 or more, as well as a prize for the ‘oldest pair’ taking part.  The races are held on May Spring Bank Holiday Saturday each year. While the rules remain basically the same, various types of dress attire are now accepted, since night-shirts are rare items these days and a shortage of them some years back nearly led to the race's demise! In fact, the fancy dress has now become a major part of the occasion; see the website's photo album and take a look at some of the fabulous costumes and chariots!

It is ingeniously said that the origin of the 'Shirt Race' can be attributed either to the occasion, in 784 AD, when Ethelred the Shirtless, chased the burgers of Bampton through the streets in order to clothe his nakedness, or to a certain action of William the Conqueror's soldiers stationed at Shifford during the beer drought of 1067!

SPAJERS is still going strong after 60 years and, with the help of the active committee members, is still raising money for the pensioners of the village.  In 2008, SPAJERS became a Registered Charity, which allows us to claim Gift Aid on ALL donations made.  Although most of our funds are raised through the village events we run,  anyone who would like to contribute can fill in a Gift Aid form and allow us to claim 25% of each donation from HMRC!  

If you would like to join SPAJERS or to offer your help at one of our events, we would love to hear from you.  Please contact either Suzy or Lynne.

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