Hundreds brave dismal weather for wonderful Whit Friday

ICY WINDS and biting rain did not deter hundreds from enjoying the magic and spectacle of Saddleworth’s annual Whit Walks.

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PACKED: Dobcross Square (Thanks to Michael Powis)

Locals of all ages gathered at churches across the hillsides for services before marching in joyous processions around the villages with a colourful shoal of swirling banners.

And the sounds and sights of talented brass bands heralded them on their way through the streets.

For one veteran minister from Saddleworth’s smallest church, the day was another trip down memory lane.

This year was the 75th that Reverend Duncan Rhodes, 80, has walked the long and winding road from Kilngreen to Uppermill on Whit Friday.

He explained: “In reality, I reckon I’ve actually done a few more journeys – but I was being pushed in a pram then.

“First, there is the sense of anticipation, which as a child of five was almost overpowering.

“Would the new clothes and shoes be comfortable for a satisfactory tour from Kilngreen to Uppermill for the joint service and then the long trudge back?

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All ages gathered to carry banners and baskets

“I have memories of blisters from new shoes on which melted tar from the sun had somehow got onto socks and hands since I couldn’t resist popping tar bubbles in the road.”

And he recalled: “The potato pie was of course a life saver before the sports on the field behind the schoolroom, always accompanied by the band before they set off to the contests.

“Through adolescence these days were frequently the seed setters of relationship which would continue for years and even lifetimes to come.”

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Locals flocked to Uppermill for a service

He continued: “What can be finer than to march proudly into Uppermill to the strains of Slaidburn and to turn and see what appears to be the entire village walking together?

“The bonds of community are forged in these acts, and the individual character of our villages is also manifested in them too.

“It’s no exaggeration to say on Whit Friday the spirit of the creator is everywhere. It creates and fosters community and fellowship… Lord, we thank you.”


(Pictures thanks to Carl Royle)

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