The Future of the Boxing Day Drive.

Sadly the 2018 Boxing Day Parade may be the last. When I first started driving in 1960 there was no local BDS representation in the county and no driving clubs existed. John “Stevo” Steventon in 1973 put on the first Boxing Day Parade with the help of then town mayor David Adams and went on to form Newport and District Driving Society in 1976. Newport was the first driving club in the county. Within a few years there were four driving clubs and BDS activity in Shropshire the first area commissioner having been appointed in 1975. Back in those early days the main activity was the Sunday convoy road drive usually to a pub. Events at that time not infrequently attracted around twenty usually single turnouts. Genially old traditional carriages were used, governess carts, rarely seen now among them. Over time clubs hosted little annual shows, fun and training type events.

Over the years we have seen considerable change. The independent clubs had become less viable so at a meeting of club and BDS members in 2009, not without some reluctance a unanimous decision was made to disband them and for everyone to join together as BDS members. The convoy drive is becoming a thing of the past and more people are driving multiples of larger horses. Various driving disciplines are now recognised nationally and members in the county are prepared to travel to take part in their particular area of driving interest, a few rarely if ever attending our local events. The BDS nationally has lost a lot of members and is now not the only organisation representing driving. The number of turnouts attending our events has been declining. Lack of support together with cost and health and safety issues has seen the demise of our area show and is leading to the loss of events like Boxing Day.

Last year we had over 100 members in our area it would be good to see more of them at our local events even if they no longer or rarely drive. Numbers attending some our drives are increasing again and it would be good to see more members at our annual area meeting on the 14th of February an opportunity to discuss the way forward for our area with the committee. Finally may I wish everyone a happy New Year and safe enjoyable driving in 2019.

Philip Holder

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