Chapelton Steam Rally

Report by CWO Hoole

1999 will see my 4th (and final) camp at Chapelton as a cadet. Chapelton Steam Rally usually runs on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August. Chivenor ATC have been invited for many years (certainly as many as I've been in the cadets) to assist over the weekend (usually for a reasonable donation to Squadron funds). We arrive on the Saturday evening, to set up camp at the top of the field. Once all the tents are set up, we usually have a meal, then wander down to the main area where all the displays, fairground rides, burger vans and the beer tent (for those old enough) are located.

Come Sunday morning, and we're up around 7am (anyone not out by 7:30am gets "assisted" by the SNCOs). Breakfast consists of either a lucky dip from the rat-pack supplies, or, for the more financially and intellectually blessed people, a return to the beer tent, where bacon butties, burgers and so forth are available for a very reasonable price.

About 9:30 to 10am, it's time for the first shift of cadets to start work: our duty being to assist with the car parking in the top field (unfortunately, not valet parking). Usually, a team of five or six will work at a time, guiding cars across the field to the parking marshalls, who expertly(?) guide them into their parking space. During the day, much patience is exercised by the cadets, as they pretend to laugh as the 50th driver pretends to lose control and run them over, but once you get into the rhythm of the exercise, it is not as boring as it may sound (competitions of "Who can get a car the closest without being hit" often run during the day). While cadets are parking cars in the top field, some of our more "public-friendly" cadets run our recruitment and fund-raising stall in the main field: advertising the Corps, trying to recruit new cadets, and raising money on the "wheel of fortune" (a guaranteed prize EVERY time!).
Here's one someone else made earlier...
Around 3:30 to 4pm, the traffic starts to ease off, and enough people have left for us to be able to allow late visitors to park themselves, so the cadets are released from duty. The evening is then pretty much their own (well, as much as it can be stuck in a field in the middle of no-where). Usually, after a feed, cadets either play sport, sit around talking, or wander around the main area again.

Monday is usually more of the same (although slightly busier since it is Bank Holiday Monday), but it tends to finish slightly earlier. So, after striking camp (including one of my "legendary" FOD-plods), we're usually all ready to depart into the congested holiday traffic around 4:30pm.

Try using the guy ropes...