Padiham’s historic Whit Walks are saved

The BMP Goodshaw Band play  during the parade in 2011.  A190611/1u

The BMP Goodshaw Band play during the parade in 2011. A190611/1u

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Padiham’s historic Whit Walks have been saved at the 11th hour after police agreed to marshal this year’s parade.

Fears were the town’s traditional procession of witness would have to be axed for the first time in more than 100 years because of police funding cuts.

Church leaders were ready to end the Victorian-era tradition over concerns the £2,000 fee for private marshals could not be met.

But the proud Padiham tradition has been kept alive as organisers negotiated with Lancashire Police to send in special constables to staff the procession which will now take place next Sunday.

Kath Hudson, church warden at St Leonard’s Church, said: “It came very close to finishing for good.

“To get traffic management it was going to cost £2,000 and there was no way the churches could afford that.

“Everyone I spoke to thought the event should go ahead after all this time. It is a part of Padiham’s heritage.

“It has been going for more than 100 years – you only have to go to the archives and look at the old photos to see what it means to the town.

“Everyone in the town has some memories or connection with the walking day.

“The Rev. Mark Jones met the police and they agreed to bring the specials in and thankfully it has been saved.”

A rallying cry has now been made to Padihamers to come out in force to support the town’s proud tradition.

Cafes, shops and pubs are expected to be open for visitors on the day and 2,000 members on the Ye Olde Padiham Facebook site have got behind the event.

Mrs Hudson said: “There are lots of people on Facebook replying and drumming up support.

“We are hoping that, after all this, people will turn out in force to support it.”

Church-goers from St Leonard’s, St Margaret’s, the Unitarians and St John’s and St Philip’s will be taking part in the procession which will be lead by a marching band.

The parade will set off from Bank Street at 10-40pm until around noon with road closures in the town centre in place. A short service will then take place outside St Leonard’s Church.

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