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Five Most Memorable Moments from Alarum’s Five Years

Finally, the last five things on our list commemorating Alarum’s 5th anniversary – five moments from Alarum’s journey that stand out from the rest as the most memorable, for one reason or another.

We have so many great memories from each and every performance, like Braunston Historic Rally in 2017 when we presented Prunella Scales with a replica National Service badge…

… or the occasion when a young lad in the audience completely upstaged Heather! He was there with his dad and 4-year old sister at the Boat Inn at Newbold. As it was the second time he’d seen the show, he already knew the songs and sang them at the top of his voice! His sister enjoyed the show too.

Here are our top five – equally special, and great stories to share:

1) Tench at Camden Lock

Heather: ‘Alex winding Tench above Camden Lock at the end of the Recreating the Journey tour, watched by (seemingly) hundreds of people sitting around in the sunshine. I was standing next to her at the back at the time. When she’d finished turning the boat, I encouraged everyone to applaud the fact that she’d done it without touching the sides! I don’t think they appreciated the hard physical and mental effort involved.’

Photos: Alex winding Tench at Camden Lock, with many onlookers. Erin Hopkins, our filmmaker, is also onboard.

2) The Flooded Stage

Kate: ‘Our first show of the summer tour of 2016 was to be at the Camp House Inn, Grimley, on the River Severn – the plan being that I would arrive by boat during the day ready for the show. But the Severn wasn’t feeling any too obliging; after heavy rain the river was rising, and fast. The day of the show, the day when I had a friend coming to crew (always sensible to have extra help on a river) was the last day the lock keeper at Diglis would let me out onto the river. We decided that stopping at the Camp House would be unwise and getting to Stourport was the safest option. Heather would then pick me up and we’d arrive by car rather than boat. Just as the boat drew level with the Camp House, and I pointed out to my crew that the mooring pontoon had disappeared under water, Heather rang to say that the pub had phoned to cancel because the stage was flooded. Crew and I went out for curry to celebrate our safe arrival in Stourport and we rebooked the show for the autumn.’

3) Hatton Locks in a Downpour

H: ‘Doing Hatton Locks in heavy, persistent rain, being filmed by Erin Hopkins. Andrew Denny joined us, interviewing us for a Waterways World article as we operated the locks. He took a snap of the pair of boats, breasted up, entering the bottom lock and it turned out so well he used it in the article. We were due to perform outside about halfway up. Rather than be rained off, we squashed into the café and did an impromptu performance of extracts for customers. Erin somehow managed to do some filming in there too!’

4) Soaked at Bingley Five Rise

K: ‘In the summer of 2018 we followed the route worked by a small group of women on the Leeds and Liverpool canal which included the iconic Bingley Five Rise – except we were descending rather than rising. At 60’ Morning Mist only just fits in the L&L locks (designed for Liverpool short boats that are 62’ x 14’) so there isn’t much room to play with if the gates leak. Standing at the tiller I was right under those gates and had had several thorough showers by the time we emerged at the bottom. Heather worked harder, operating the unusual and often reluctant paddle gear under the watchful eye of the lock keeper. Very appropriately for our tour, it was a woman. The nearest thing to white water rafting on a canal!’

5) Temperamental Weather

K: ‘We’ve had lots of extremes over the five years. In our first tour in the summer of 2016 what should have been a balmy July night in the garden of The Anchor at High Offley turned out to be incredibly cold! I spent the interval fetching every fleece, warm cardigan and rug I could find from the boat to lend to the audience to help them survive the second half. Then, just a week later at Shroppie Fly in Audlem, it was still 32 degrees at 8pm and the show we were going to do inside relocated to the old crane outside – where I nearly melted in Isobel’s outsize warm pullover!’

And with those memories shared, our blog series is complete! Alarum will continue to celebrate our anniversary for the rest of the year, here and there, because why not? You’re only five once.

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