Oxford

Witney's World Poohsticks Championships mark 35 years

Team winners Image copyright Sue Paz
Image caption This year's team game winner was "Kids R Us", from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

About 500 people have taken part in the 35th annual World Poohsticks Championships in Oxfordshire.

Inspired by AA Milne's classic Winnie the Pooh books, the charity event sees competitors race sticks under a bridge on the River Windrush at Langel Common.

This year's team game winner was "Kids R Us", from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, while "Innes", of Oxford, was declared individual champ.

The event raises about £3,000 each year.

The money is split between local and national charities, including the RNLI.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The game originates from author AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh novel, The House At Pooh Corner

In 2015, an appeal was launched to find a new venue for the event, which attracts about 1,000 spectators each year, after an increase in popularity meant the original spot on the Thames at Day's Lock was no longer suitable.

Organisers, the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires, eventually chose the River Windrush bridge, which links Witney with Cogges Manor Farm and is a filming location for ITV drama Downton Abbey.

Image copyright des blenkinsop
Image caption The bridge over the River Windrush links Witney with Cogges Manor Farm

In 2013, the championships were cancelled because of high river levels on the Thames.

The game originates from author AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh novel, The House At Pooh Corner.

Poohsticks game rules:

  • Select a stick, face upstream, side by side with fellow competitors
  • Choose either the oldest or the youngest competitor as a "starter"
  • Competitors must hold their stick at arms length over the stream, usually from a bridge, at the same height as the shortest competitor's stick
  • All competitors must drop, and not throw, their sticks into the water at the same time, on the starter's call
  • The players must then cross to the downstream side of the bridge and wait for the sticks to emerge
  • The owner of the first stick to float from under the bridge is the winner

Source: Rotary Club of Oxford Spires

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