2009 The Facts

The Facts, The Organisation, The Complete Story

2009 Was The Last "Official" Event

The Organization of the event up to the disbanding of the organizing committee of the Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill the Spring of 2011

Following the 2009 Police report that an estimated 15,000 people were trying to get to the event, it was clear that things would have to change.

It is estimated that the hill can only accommodate about 5000 & a report for the HSE confirmed this was the estimated number attending at Cooper's hill in 2009.

In 2009 a report was prepared for the Health & Safety Executive by Professor Chris Kemp Teresa Moore of the Buckinghamshire New University entitled "A Review of the management of crowd safety at outdoor street/special events" containing a study of the organization and running of the Cheese-Rolling at Cooper's Hill.

This report praised the organisation of the Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill.
Special mention was made, regarding the important advice given to the public at in general by this web site (www.cheese-rolling.co.uk), information that was not made available in concise form elsewhere, specifically relating to the unique circumstances surrounding this event and the location at Cooper's Hill.

This report confirmed that the estimated number of people attending the event was 5000, the hill being full to capacity.

The organisation and events prior and leading to the final cancellation in 2011.

‘The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake’ has always been organized and run by a group of volunteers, most of whom live on the Hill.

Their tasks have been:

  • Clearing the slope (cutting back new growth, removing hazards etc.) over several week-ends
  • Procuring fencing (orange sheep-fencing for crowd safety and ‘Heras’ fencing to protect properties) and erecting it all
  • Employing St. John Ambulance personnel (whose services are absolutely essential for the event)
  • Liaising with SARAID (the rescue team necessary for retrieving casualties from the slope)
  • Employing a security company (to act as marshals for public safety)
  • Arranging insurance (for ‘Public Liability’, not runners)
  • Buying cheeses
  • Inviting guest ‘Rollers’
  • Producing and printing certificates and programmes
  • Arranging and managing car-parking (until very recently providing the only income)
  • Holding countless TV, video and radio interviews
  • In latter years, providing Media Passes (another help for the income and to control the huge numbers who want access both to organizers through the preceding week and to priority ‘spots’ on the slope on the day)
  • Hiring and manning a PA system
  • Organising a group of volunteer ‘catchers’ (to catch runners at the foot of the hill)

  After 2009, the small group of volunteers, who formed the organizing committee, was faced with various demands from the insurance company, police and local authorities.

  1. The insurance company required a ‘defined area’ for the attending public to validate any insurance.
  2. The local authority and police required a traffic and parking plan, to control the number of vehicles arriving.
  3. Local Authorities concern over the increasing numbers of visitors.
  1. Insurance

For ‘Public Liability’ cover:

  •  The public viewing area was ‘a disaster waiting to happen’! There would have to be a ‘defined, fenced area’ which would control the number of people on the hill
  • A huge amount of fencing would be needed, and professionally erected
  • There would have to be designated entrances to enable the numbers to be controlled, so the  event would have to become ‘ticketed’
  1. Traffic

The local authority and police required a ‘Traffic Plan’ involving road closures and traffic control

  1. Local Authorities

Various local authorities expressed their concern about the safety of the huge crowds that were attending  

Several meetings were held with all interested parties to try to find a way forward but unfortunately there was not time to sort things out for 2010, so the official event for that year was cancelled.

 Reluctantly, it was decided that professional help was needed. Until then, the only income had been from the £5-per-car car park, and more recently media pass charges, and what was now needed was going to cost a great deal more. 

  • An ‘Events Management’ company was consulted
  • A ‘Marketing’ company was also called upon to help raise sponsorship.
  • The local authority was asked to draw up a ‘Traffic Plan’

Somehow, the number of people coming had to be controlled, and so it was proposed that the event should be spread over a whole week-end, with the traditional races being held on Saturday morning and afternoon, and again on Sunday. This would mean possibly 20 races in all.

The ‘defined’ area and entrances required would need a huge amount of fencing and marshalling, so it would also be necessary to make it a ‘ticketed’ event, with tickets available in advance.

Extra fields would be provided for parking.

It was proposed to change the date of the event from the ‘Spring Bank Holiday’ to the original Whitsun weekend. This could have reduced costs of policing and any other manpower, by avoiding the Bank Holiday.

Suggested plans were for over-night camping, a mini ‘folk’ style festival, activities for children and a revival of some of the ancient ‘Wake’ activities.

There would be catering facilities provided as well as stalls and other attractions.

All this would help towards the enormous costs now involved.

Some sponsorship had been promised, from local businesses as well as National Companies.

Unfortunately, following public consultation, the volunteers were suddenly faced with local opposition to the plans.

Some residents were unhappy with what had been suggested and strongly opposed the camping as well as the mini-festival and the catering plans.

So a ‘scaled-down’ event was proposed; no camping, no mini-festival and no catering.

As a result, there would have to be a charge of £20 for each person attending, although children would be free. It was also hoped that a number of free tickets would be available for local people.

The public outcry that followed was understandable. An event that local people had been coming to for generations was now going to be out of reach for many. 

There were threats and abuse towards the volunteer organizers, who really weren’t happy to make any charge.

So sadly, and with very great regret, the people who had worked for so many years to keep the ‘Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake’ going decided to withdraw from the organization of the ancient event and are no longer involved.

Webmaster - Last Edited 08-Jan-2013 20:31:05 avsglos

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