'Ackworth came together in my dad's name' - the story of how an annual pram race grew from a village's efforts to raise funds for four orphaned children
Back in 1972, a village rallied around the four orphaned children of Ackworth man, Frederick Nicholls...
Frederick's wife had died four years before he died leaving behind their four children Kevin, 16, Lindsey, 14, Anne, 10 and four-year-old Andrew.
All they had was £183 each from their dad's estate, but the people of Ackworth rallied together to raise more funds to help the children.
Fredercik was a trusted labourer and worked as a local plant fitter and a mechanic before his passing at age 44, he was also a valued member of the Royal British Legion club.
Kevin Nicholls, the eldest of the four children, said: “Unfortunately, it was all quite a blur, but I remember when dad died the whole village came together to raise funds for us.
“The village came together in my dad's name, the money raised was put in trust until each of us turned 18.
“As the eldest, I was left to fend for myself, my brothers and sisters went off to live with my parents' siblings - but the McSweeney family in Ackworth took me in.
“Everyone in Ackworth knew my dad, and he was very well respected, payment for a lot of his jobs would usually involve a pint and some company at the British Legion.”
Four of Frederick’s friends, Fred Strutt, Sam Lloyd, Ernest Wood and Eddie Eton made the five mile journey from Pontefract Buttercross to The British Legion Club, in fancy dress all while pushing each other in decorated prams and the Ackworth pram race was born.
Around £115 was raised for the children - and to this day the tradition continues with the village pram race raising money for different causes, including the Prince of Wales Hospice and the MND association.
Each year, a group of committee members host a day of family fun, food and live music -
And competitors wear fancy dress to race in decorated prams, soap boxes and wheelchairs from Carr Bridge Pavilion to Ackworth Cricket Club.
Kevin said: “£115 doesn’t seem like a lot, but the pound has devalued a lot since 1972.
“As I was the oldest I reaped my share of the funds first, they helped me buy a new motorbike, so I could go on the road to get to work.
“The funds raised from the first pram race served me well, it enabled me to get around and I definitely got the best out of it.
“I’m still involved in the pram races today, I donated a trophy board and, with the help of my family, a panel to write the names of the winners of each annual pram race.
“I’m happy that the funds raised go to all these charities, it really means a lot that other people are benefiting as me and my brother and sisters did.
“We’ve got to give credit to those who took part in the first ever race, those four people must have had it rough.
“And to see how much the pram race means to the people of Ackworth to this day makes me very proud.”
It has been announced that the annual Ackworth pram race will take place on Sunday, August 29.