Thousands enjoy the Henham Steam Rally

THOUSANDS of people flocked to north Suffolk to enjoy one of the area's largest steam rallies.

The 37th Grand Henham Steam Rally started in stunning style with the weather befitting the occasion.

And as north Suffolk bathed in Saturday sunshine, the main arena was packed as spectators sat on straw bales to enjoy the entertainment - with one of the main rally car parks reportedly full by 11am.

The popular annual event, held at Henham Park off the A12 between Southwold and Beccles, began at 10am with steam engines from all over the country - including two from Holland - parading the venue.

A vintage tractor parade followed, before people looked to the skies to admire a kite flying display. Heavy horses from Suffolk then demonstrated their skills with their wagons followed by a parade by numerous vintage motorcycles and cycles.

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There were then loud gasps from an appreciative audience as the 'special attraction' of this year's show - the nationally-acclaimed Bold Dog Lings freestyle team - performed an array of death-defying tricks.

The rain then started falling heavily towards the end of their performance, but soon the sun was shining once more as the crowds watched a variety of performances in the two arenas, as well as enjoying a range of different stalls, static exhibitions, displays and demonstrations.

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Other family entertainment included live theatre, children's shows, a vintage fairground and hundreds of trade stands - with the Lowestoft dog agility display team and the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums among the local attractions.

The rally, which is organised by the Southwold Lions Club, the Parochial Church Councils of Wangford cum Henham, Uggeshall and Sotherton, the Wangford and District Community Council and a team of enthusiasts, was praised by Roger King, publicity officer.

'Everything is going well,' he said. 'We have about 1,000 exhibitors on site and about 40 people working hard behind the scenes.'

With the rally raising money for local charities, addressing the visitors, chairman Mike Powell-Evans, added that the event was about 'enjoyment and education.'

'Each year we look for contrasting attractions to add spice and variety,' he said. 'This year we have the specatacular 'Bold Dog' Lings motorcycle display team to add to all the favourites - the steam engines, and their model counterparts, the vintage cars, classic cars, motorbikes, tractors, commercial and military vehicles, and of course the stationary engines.

'The working displays of steam power, and the rural crafts show how we worked in bygone days and the Heritage Theatre will again take a nostalgic and informative look at our local history.'

The rally continues with another day of entertainment on Sunday. Admission costs �9 tomorrow (Sunday), with accompanied children under 14 free, and free car parking, as the rally runs from 10am to 6pm.

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