THE under-threat Radley Walk has been saved by three volunteers – including the grand-daughter of one the men who started the Good Friday event half-a-century ago.
The 12.5-mile walk from the village to Oxford and back again had been held every year since 1963 but was set to eb scrapped this year because there was no one to organise it.
However, after the Oxford Mail reported its demise last Monday, three volunteers have stepped up to save it.
Tracie Guntert and Carina Coppock will run it this year, while Jodie Steptoe, grandaughter of one of the walk’s founders George Steptoe, has pledged to take over next year.
Mum-of-five, Ms Guntert, from Stonhouse Crescent, Radley, said: “We were all so shocked to hear the walk wasn’t going to go ahead this year.
“I have lived in Radley for about three years and it has already become a part of my family’s life.
“I told my friend Carina and she was also shocked, because she grew up in Radley, so we decided we had to step in and help.”
Mum-of-two, Mrs Coppock, who grew up in the village, but now lives in North Abingdon, said: “As soon as I heard the walk did not have an organiser I said: ‘I’ll do it.’
“Growing up in Radley, Good Friday has always been about the walk – full of tradition, a day at the pub, watching the walkers come back and the raffle and prize giving. I knew it had to be saved.
“We’ve had people coming forward to offer us raffle prizes, like meals, haircuts and manicures and more and more people are getting involved, and although it’s a big responsibilty, Tracie and I feel really positive about being able to make sure such an important part of village life continues.”
The idea for the ‘race’ was dreamt up in the Bowyer Arms when villager Jack Parsons bet his friend George Steptoe a pint of beer that he could walk the quickest from the pub to Carfax and back. And he did.
The two decided to repeat the walk the following year and it quickly became a village tradition, surviving even when Jack and George became too old to take part.
Miss Steptoe, 29, of Abingdon, grew up in Radley, taking part in the walk and hearing stories about her late grandfather.
She said: “My grandad George died when I was four but the walk was a big part of my childhood, and I have always been very proud of my family connection to it.”
The mum-of-four continued: “When I learned the walk was at risk I was really upset because my children are very young and I knew I could not dedicate the time to run it myself this year. I’ve offered help to Tracie and Carina however and I’m so pleased they will be running it.
“I have also told them that I will take over next year and in following years. I’m really happy that I will be playing a part in such a well-loved family and village tradition.”
The walk, which passes through Kennington, has seven ‘classes, including Local Man, Local Woman, Over 35 and Youth.
Last year’s organiser, Graham Collett, 65, from Radley, said: “We have had many enquiries since the article so it's heartwarming to know there are people out there who care about village traditions.”
- People can register for the walk at the Bowyer Arms from 8.30am on Good Friday.