By Julianne Sidebottom
It seems a while since the antics of Welly Fest now, but it’s certainly a day I’ll never forget. It was such a fun filled day and a real showcase of what Involvement actually is! I love music and there was plenty of it- from professional bands and singers to talented service user performers and even a silent disco!
Of course, we didn’t want the fun to stop there though, we wanted to see and hear more. So, for the virtual follow up event, we tasked services with the challenge of creating or performing a piece of art or music which would capture their year of involvement highlights. Each service definitely understood the assignment and took the task very seriously. It was extremely difficult to vote for the winners, however bragging rights were awarded to two services for their winning projects; Cheswold Park’s ‘Are you ready boots?’ and Newton Lodge’s ‘Perfect Day’, a welly well done to all involved!
Speaking of Wellies, my favourite part of the day at Sandal was getting involved in the Welly Wanging, in fact, I enjoyed it that much, that I went away and did a bit of research into the ‘Sport’. And yes it is classed as a Sport! If you ask me, one of the best kinds where you’re having so much fun you forget you’re actually exercising- bonus!
I found some interesting facts about wellies…
Wellies were first worn by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The original was a hessian boot but the Duke instructed his shoemaker to re-design the Hessian boot to make it more hard wearing and give extra comfort. This was the birth of the good old welly as we know it and before long everyone referred to the Duke’s new boots as ‘the Wellington.’
Believe it or not, Wellies (then made out of leather) were the height of fashion in the 1840’s!
Wellies around the world!
Wellies are also known by many other names.
• In Australia, South Africa and New Zealand they are known as Gumboots
• In Ireland they are often referred to as Topboots
• In Russia they are known as Rubberboots
How it all started…
The spiritual home of welly wanging is in Upperthong, near Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. Many years ago at the village pub, it is said that two farmers got into an argument after one of them accidently spilled his pint on the other’s leg. The ale trickled down his foot and into his Wellies. In anger the wet farmer chased the other farmer out of the pub and in the process took off his boot and threw, or ‘wanged’ it at the other as he ran away. News of this incident soon travelled around the village and in their amusement, the people re-enacted the event by throwing wellies at each other. This evolved into a game to see who could throw a welly the furthest and so the custom of welly wanging was born.
Each year a championship Welly Wanging competition is held where competitors have to throw a welly as far as they can within the boundaries. They can do this from a standing or running start. We’re not the only country who partake in this sport either… competitions are also regularly held in New Zealand and Finland.
The first world record recognised by Guinness World Records was 52.73 metres (173.0 ft), set by Tony Rodgers in Wiltshire, UK, in 1978, using a size 8 Dunlop “Challenger” boot. The current world records are 63.98 metres (209.9 ft) for men, set by Teppo Luoma of Finland in 1996, and 40.87 metres (134.1 ft) for women set by Sari Tirkkon, also of Finland and also in 1996. I think the record thrown at Welly Fest was around 13 metres- very impressive but definitely room for improvement before we enter into the championships!
There is also a funky welly boot dance, more locally know as a ‘Gumboot Dance’, which is rumoured to have been performed by African Miners in order to keep their spirits up whilst working in poor conditions. Check it out in the video- https://youtu.be/U0Q51WVrR40?si=CwXzIuXPUVbAMWBn
And last but not least, we now know wellies can be used to create fantastic sculptures. Well done to Newhaven for their creativity with their Welly Dog which won the Welly decorating competition.
The question now is how do we top this next year?
We will be forming a planning group very shortly to start discussing ideas for next year. We’d love as many service users and staff as possible to be involved, or if you have any ideas you’d like us to bring to the group, drop us an email on-
Thank you for reading! Julianne.