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British Empire Medal awarded to Timbertown founder

A mother-of-two who founded the legendary Timbertown event has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to education.

Erika Hayward came up with the idea for the children’s play scheme, which involves building huts from scrap wood and nails and then burning them, after seeing a similar scheme in Holland.

Every year hundreds of children take part in the four-day event which is held over the August bank holiday weekend at the Town Moor and has been running since 1984.

Erika, who is often recognised as ‘Mrs Timbertown’, said: “People initially thought it would never work here because people would not let their children have tools, but I said there was no reason for it not to work here.”

After the first few years a committee was set up and each year the popularity of the event has grown.

Erika, who was a foreign language teacher at Desborough College for 10 years, said: “We are now getting second generations of families come down. People who came as children are beginning to bring their own children. Many children that are too old for participating in Timbertown stay on as young helpers, passing on the skills they have obtained, becoming hut leaders or ground crew. This in itself is a very important factor of Timbertown.”

She said Timbertown’s success was down to the volunteers and the ‘powertool crew’ who support the event.

She said: “I am delighted to have been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours but the support of the volunteers needed to run Timbertown should be recognised too.

“During the second event in 1985, I was told that ‘people start things and don’t carry them on’. Well I am pleased to say that Timbertown is as popular as ever,” she said.

She also thanked the Louis Baylis Trust, which owns the Advertiser, and South Central Ambulance Service who support costs for the event.

This year’s event will have a beach theme and take place from Saturday, August 26 until Tuesday, August 29. Visit www.timbertown.org.uk

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