Magic our Morris! Rushcart banner keeps Festival tradition alive

FOR the first time since 1975, Saddleworth’s iconic Rushcart Festival has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis.

But Saddleworth Morris Men have still upheld annual tradition by producing a distinctive banner to commemorate key events of the previous 12 months.

Rushcart Festival 2020: Graham and Richard with the banner

That is why four members held a socially distanced ceremony to unveil the colourful and distinctive banner outside Saddleworth Museum in Uppermill.

Creator and former ‘squire’ Richard Hankinson and Graham Wood were joined by Ron Yates and Tim Edge to show off the 2020 design.

As well as thanking key workers for their service during the coronavirus pandemic, the banner pays tribute to local bobby Martin Warburton, affectionately known as Warby, and Reverend Duncan Rhodes who both passed away in 2019.

Additionally, it recognises the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe and the achievements of Captain (Sir) Tom Moore.

The Rushcart festival, including parade through the villages with a 13ft high cart laden with rushes, was due to take place on the weekend of August 22 and 23.

David Biggs, Squire of Saddleworth Morris Men, said: “We’re all absolutely gutted that we’ve had to cancel the Rushcart this year.

Rushcart Festival 2020: Ron Yates, Graham Wood, Richard Hankinson and Tim Edge

“But there is nothing more important than the safety of the side, visiting teams and the public.

“Oldham Council informed us the event wouldn’t be able to take place. So, our decision became an academic one anyway and we’re just hopeful we can resume dancing again next year.

“Boss has done a fantastic job of the banner and we hope it brings a smile to those walking past the Saddleworth Morris Men display at the museum.”

The group’s last public appearance was at the annual Lordsmere Longsword event in December 2019.

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