Lots to see in... Leigh on Sea
PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:00 29 July 2014
A treasured heritage and a welcoming feel make Leigh on Sea one of the county’s most popular destinations for a day out. Here Lily Floyd discovers even more reasons to add to the list
LEIGH ON SEA still retains its unique character and a charm of yesteryear. Situated west of Southend, the town has developed from a traditional fishing village with fishing and cockling fleets still operating here today.
Attracting many visitors per year, the town has plenty of entertainment for local residents and visitors to enjoy, particularly over the summer, as it boasts a diverse cultural scene and hosts a variety of festivals, including the community favourite of The Old Leigh Regatta. On September 13 and 14, the annual free charity event will present a fun-filled family weekend, all organised by three local Sea Scout and Explorer groups (3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts, 4th/6th Leigh on Sea Sea Scouts and the Southend West Explorers).
All the proceeds raised benefit the Scout groups enabling them to continue their activities for future generations. The regatta, which is now in its 41st year, also supports an additional nominated charity, which has been revealed as The Giving Dream Foundation for 2014.
Chris McHugh, assistant Scout leader for the 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts, explains how the regatta weekend works. Chris says: ‘Each section takes part in some form of activities with Beavers and the Cubs taking part in Welly hoying to see who can throw a Welly the furthest and a traditional tug-of-war competition.
The Scouts take part in a pentathlon, which involves five separate events including a sedan chair race along the beach, a topaz rig, a sailing race, a rowing race and a dinghy tug-of-war competition, where the backs of two rowing dinghies are tied together and it is who can pull the other person across the line first.’
Chris continues: ‘The final event is the marsh race where each Scout group rows over to Two Tree Island before carrying, dragging or pulling their dingy over part of the island before rowing, walking or swimming it back.’
Nevertheless there are numerous other activities and competitions, that the public can get involved in including football on the mud, climbing the famous greasy pole, banana eating for children and cockle eating for the adults.
Les Malin, a local resident who has been involved with the regatta for 40 years, explains why this event is worthy of a visit. Les says: ‘I’ve just retired from the committee this year, as I think 40 years is definitely enough, but I will still be going to the regatta this year though. It’s a fantastic event which I always enjoy and it’s about raising as much money as you can to help the local Scout groups and chosen charities.’
Les adds: ‘Three weekends prior to the event we have a variety of stalls in Old Leigh selling raffle tickets and T-shirts to help safeguard the event, just in case the weather is bad on the day.’
Local sailing clubs are also involved in the regatta and they will take part in the sailing race from Bell Wharf Beach. Also The Old Leigh High Street will close for the two days to allow access for various entertainment, competitions, side shows, craft stalls and more water events to take place.
Carol Mulroney, town councillor and chairman for the Leisure Foreshore and Environment Committee, believes an event like this is always busy. Carol says: ‘The Old Leigh Regatta is a major event, which is known about far further afield than Leigh. It attracts thousands of locals and visitors who all enjoy a fun-packed weekend and it is all in aid of good causes. I attend every year and help run the Leigh Heritage Centre in Old Leigh over that weekend. The event attracts so many people, which is a great opportunity to speak to those who are interested in the history of Leigh, even if they don’t live here. It provides a real community spirit, which is already very strong in Leigh, and involves so many people from different organisations and groups in the town, which makes working together lots of fun.’
Carol adds: ‘I suppose everyone thinks their home town is special, but we feel this very strongly in Leigh. There is a great sense of community here, with so much going on you can never be bored. There is great love for the estuary and our seafaring heritage. Leigh is always buzzing, whether it’s in the shopping, streets, community centre or in the many clubs, organisations and churches.’ n
To find out more information about The Old Leigh Regatta visit www.leighregatta.co.uk,
call 01702 477588 or email email@example.com