Birthday Party Weekend

Cotton, nr Alton Towers, Staffs.

4 - 8th August 2011


The Swift Owners Club was founded almost exactly 40 years ago on a wet and windy bank holiday weekend at Alton Towers. To celebrate we decided to go back to the same spot, or at least as near as we could get. In those days Alton Towers was little more than a semi-ruined country house that looked like an old castle, with large gardens and a small amusement park in one corner. It used to vie with Trentham Gardens as a day destination for Midlands families. Today of course it’s a massive theme park, ranked no. 9 in Europe after Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

No surprise then that caravan rallies no longer take place in its grounds. That’s why we ended up in a grassy field a mile down the road. The field had been part of the Star Caravan Park, recently sold to the Camping and Caravanning Club, but the owner kept the field and used the money to improve its facilities. It proved ideal for our purpose and swallowed our 83 outfits and marquee with room to spare.

Organising a special rally like this is no easy task and so it was entrusted to the experienced hands of Don & Jean Munro assisted by John & Hilary White and Trevor & Sue Benton. Planning started over a year ago. First they had to find a site, then book a suitable marquee, find children’s entertainment, adult entertainment, bacon baps, an ice cream van with 200 portions, competitions, prizes and so on. The list must have seemed endless.

The result was a cracking 5 days where everyone had a great time and the weather proved better than forecast. The weekend was also special for two couples. Firstly Barry and Marion Brown used it to celebrate their 600th Swift rally, having joined the Club in 1974. They brought along some of the memorabilia they had collected over the years and then supplied wine and cake on the Saturday evening.

The second couple with something to celebrate were David & Mavis Baren who celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on the Sunday. They are also long standing Club members, having joined in 1973. In fact no less than 17 of the couples attending the rally joined in the 1970’s. They posed for a group photograph on the Saturday evening.

It was really nice to see a good number of children on the rally and they were well catered for. On the Saturday entertainer Kat Durter provided face painting and balloon modelling and later in the day another entertainer, Tony King, provided magic and Punch & Judy.

Adult entertainment was provided by the Jump Jive Alive dancers, a foursome who donned 1970’s attire to entertain us with their music and dancing. They arrived at the rally with their Swift Caravan and guess what? We signed them up! Hopefully they’ll entertain us again at future rally. They were great fun and certainly got everyone in the mood with several other Club members dressing up 1970's style.

Time to let the photos do the talking and to thank the marshals, and the many ralliers who helped them, for a truly memorable rally.


Photos courtesy Geoff Rowe & others
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