Milestone of Friday walk

Milestone of Friday walk

Milestone of Friday walk

First published in Memory Lane by

Villagers at Radley will pray for good weather this week when they set off on their 50th Good Friday Walk.

Come rain or shine, the walk has become a regular feature of village life at this time of year.

The picture, right, was taken in 1966 when the fourth walk took place.

That year, records tumbled, with a record entry, a record number of young people taking part, and record winning times.

The 19 competitors, including two housewives, a county councillor and a 65-year-old pensioner, set off from the Bowyer Arms at Radley to walk 12.5 miles to Oxford and back.

It all started in 1963 over a casual drink in the pub bar. Jack Parsons bet his friend, George Steptoe, a pint of beer that he could walk the quickest from the Bowyer Arms to Carfax and back. And he did.

The two decided to repeat the walk the following year and it became a village tradition, surviving even when Jack and George became too old to take part.

In fact, the two men organised the 1966 event and were at the finish line to see a dead heat, in one hour 55 minutes, between Sgt Ian Parsons, 19-year-old parachute training instructor from RAF Abingdon, and 19-year-old student Brian Diffey, of Selwyn Crescent, Radley.

Third was 14-year-old Bernard Workman, of Poplar Grove, Kennington, in two hours nine minutes.

The two housewives, Lilly Hadland and Una Woodley, of Stonhouse Crescent, Radley, dropped out and returned to the pub waving a white flag on a pole as a signal of their retirement.

The biggest cheer went to county councillor Richard West and 65-year-old ‘Cheddar’ Wilson, who walked together.

Mr Wilson, known for his daily dip in the Thames, even in the middle of winter, had to miss his morning swim, but promised to “wash away the dust” in the afternoon.

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