CountryfileLive at Castle Howard 2019by John Dawson
A group of 50 enthusiastic croquet players drawn mostly from the Yorkshire Federation went to the new CountryfileLive at Castle Howard to give visitors to the 4 day event the opportunity to " give croquet a go". Two small courts were set up on the lawns with the magnificent house in the background and over 1500 tried their hand at running hoops with some expert guidance. All of the visitors seemed to enjoy it ; any serious interest was captured and links are being made to clubs for follow up.
The weather was variable and as the show lasted from 9-00 to 6 pm on each day the CA volunteers worked hard with some time off to enjoy the rest of the show themselves.
It is always difficult to assess the long term impact of this sort of activity but 1500 is a "serious" number of players and there is no doubt that the team of volunteers raised the public profile of croquet amongst the tens of thousand visitors to the show. As a result of the relationships built up at Blenheim the BBC Countryfile Live stars turned up en masse for an early morning publicity shoot and Matt Baker , Ellie Harrison and Adam Henson came back to hone their croquet skills watched by many of their fans. Some activities were shot on camera but we shall have to wait to see if any of the footage makes it to the Sunday night show.
A big "thank you" to all the volunteers, to Anna Giraud for managing the recruitment and deployment of the teams, to Derek Knight ( and Anna) for setting up and dismantling the site, to the York and Beverley clubs for the loan of equipment .