Xmas tradition in danger after half a century

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Once a hugely-popular family tradition in Dunstable and Houghton Regis, the Round Table Christmas Float is now in danger of grinding to a halt in its 50th year due to a lack of active members.

Since 1962 the float has carried Father Christmas around the streets of Dunstable, Houghton Regis and surrounding villages delivering magic moments to children and their families.

Dunstable and District Round Table has also collected thousands of pounds for local charities, with a team of helpers hopping off the float to knock on doors collecting kind donations from residents.

On Tuesday, December 6, the float crew were unable to perform their usual door-knocking charity collection in Drovers Way as only the driver and Father Christmas turned up.

The club only has three active members in total these days.

It is not only the Dunstable branch that is suffering – the Toddington, Luton and Leighton Buzzard factions of the round table have all recently folded.

Despite dwindling interest, Martin Clarke has been involved with the float for the last 34 years, and is still hopeful of a last-minute revival.

He told the Gazette: “Back in the 60s and 70s the float was for many the only way to see Santa, and a very magical moment – now, maybe not quite so much.

“Being a part of the Round Table is great for character and personal development.

“It’s for people that want to make friends and put something back into the community.”

Ex-Round Tabler Brian O’Hara said: “Its main aim, which is to bring pleasure to the families of the town and surrounding districts and along the way to raise money for many worthy causes, remains the same.

“Let’s hope that this milestone year will be a resounding success.”

The float will be in Windsor Drive, Houghton Regis tonight (December 19), and in Jeans Way, Dunstable, on Friday (December 21).

On Saturday (December 22) the float will be on display at Sainsbury’s in Luton Road between 10am-4pm before finally cruising down Chiltern Road from 5pm.

To get involved with the Dunstable and District Round Table, contact Martin at martinphilip.clarke@virgin.net.

The Round Table is open to men aged 18-45 that live or work in the Dunstable area.