Ottery’s young barrellers ready for another ‘awesome’ evening of Tar Barrels
PUBLISHED: 10:30 05 November 2019
The fierce flames of Ottery’s Tar Barrels are ready to be lit once again and the event’s youngest participants are raring to go.
Every year many youngsters take part in the long standing bonfire tradition, which is believed to date back to sometime after the gunpowder plot of 1605.
Participants carry a blazing barrel of tar through the town before passing it on to the next person.
Anyone brave enough to sign up can take part from the age of seven and is given a code of practice to ensure their own safety and that of others on the evening before November 5.
This year up to 60 children have signed up to take part in the Tar Barrels.
For many of the young people it is in their blood, with generations of family members picking up the barrel before them.
Will Creek, Baden Strawbridge and Haley Blackmore have been taking part since they were seven and have shared what they love most about the event.
Each of the trio was awarded Tar Barreller of the Year for their performance in 2018 after impressing the event's sub-committee.
The committee discusses which participants shone in their respective barrel categories on the evening with their ability and teamwork skills.
Will, aged nine, said: "Last year I was really trying to help the others a lot.
"I would like to keep it going in my family history. I haven't watched my dad do it because it's past my bedtime. One day I would like to do the midnight barrel.
"My dad does it and mostly because it's one of the biggest events in Devon.
"It is important to be confident and go for it. I'm looking forward to it.
"I'd like us to raise lots of money."
For Will's friend Baden it is a family affair as he will join dad Lee, aunty, uncle and cousins on Tuesday for the evening.
All the youngsters have sack gloves, cotton clothes and boots and cover their faces in Vaseline to stop them burning.
Baden, nine, said: "I watched it one year and I thought I could do that one day. It's great fun. You just have to keep talking to people, they can help you and give you advice for your first year and now I can help people.
"I'm very proud. The reason you get chosen to have it (the award) is because you are the best barrel of your age group.
"Next year I'm going up to the bigger barrel. I practice with a barrel around our back garden. You should try your best and try and have fun. Just run and be free. It's just awesome Tar Barrels."
His dad, Lee, who is a member of the sub-committee, said everything was in place for 'another great night'.
He said: "It's lovely to see the family names of people whose dads I've rolled with. It's a real community event.
"I think we have between 55 and 60 children sign up so we are at full capacity.
"It's all positive, looking towards the future."
The junior barrels kick-start the event from 4pm as a prelude to the women's and men's barrels which run all the way to midnight.
Hayley, 15, said: "This year will be my eighth year. I started when I was seven. I really only started because my dad did it and I always wanted to have a go when I was younger. I was a little scared at first but after I did it for the first time and I just got stuck in.
"I do get a little nervous before I do my first barrel of the night but after that it is the best thing ever.
"There are quite a few girls in the year below me that take part."
When asked what she would say to other young girls thinking of taking part, Hayley said: "I would just get stuck in so you can have the best experience possible."
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