- Tuesday, 04 March 2014 09:03
The District Council is very proud to be once again hosting the official Shrovetide Luncheons at our Ashbourne Leisure Centre - but naturally it does mean some disruption to usual timetables.
The sports halls and community room are closed until first thing Thursday. Evening swimming lessons are on as usual, but there are no toddler sessions. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Traditionally the Royal Shrovetide game was preceded by a luncheon at the Green Man Hotel in the centre of the town, but four years ago when the Green Man closed the District Council recommended the Leisure Centre step in.
This is our fourth year of hosting and the event has become bigger and better - the Sports Hall is transformed beyond recognition to seat 500 people (there is a waiting list for tickets) for a three-course meal.
The work started last Friday when the sports hall stores were cleared ready for the bars to be set up.
On Sunday morning Leisure Centre staff started early, laying out the carpet, joined by the Shrovetide Committee and volunteers to put up the decorations, flags, pictures and memorabilia, along with chairs and tables for 500 people.
The caterers moved in on Monday, using the kitchen and the minor hall to the back of the sports hall, taking most of the day to set up their equipment, prep the food and lay the tables out ready for the next day.
On Shrove Tuesday morning the bar is set up ready and the community room is used as a VIP area, together with a second bar. Guests start to arrive at 11.15 and by 12.00 everyone is served and sat down ready for the start.
The Shrovetide ball is the guest of honour at the lunches, along with the person chosen to turn the ball up, or start the game. This is a great honour and the accompanying speeches, although funny with stories of past games played, are also often emotional.
The ball will leave the Leisure Centre at 1.45pm and will be paraded to the starting plinth at the District Council's Shaw Croft car park for a 2pm start.
Ashbourne Leisure Centre staff who aren't involved in the game tidy and clean up, ready for the same again on Wednesday. After Wednesday's lunch, everything will be taken down, put away and cleaned up ready for re-opening of the leisure centre for business as usual on Thursday morning.