VIDEO: Witney plays host to World Pooh Sticks Championships

Hundreds of people gathered along the River Windrush in Witney yesterday to compete in the World Pooh Sticks Championships.

It was the first year the championships were held in Witney – at Langel Common – having moved from Little Wittenham.

The game sees Pooh fans dropping sticks over a bridge, then racing them downstream to see whose stick crosses the finish line first.

The World Pooh Sticks Championships have been held in the county for more than 30 years, and each year raises more than £3,000 for charity.

Richie Gray, one of the organisers of the event, said: “It’s been mind-blowing, just because of the sheer number of people who are taking part and passing through.

“It’s one of those events that seems to capture people’s imaginations.

“Everyone’s heard of Winnie the Pooh, and the fact that there is a real life Pooh Sticks championship, they just want to take part and see what it’s all about.”

As well as from across Oxfordshire, Pooh fans travelled from around the country and even from abroad to attend the championships.

One of those was Deb Hoffmann, the Guinness World Record holder for the largest Winnie the Pooh collection, who flew from Wisconsin in the USA for the event.

With more than 12,000 pieces in her Pooh collection, Deb said that taking part in the championships was a lifetime’s ambition.

“Ever since I found out there was a world championship Pooh Sticks competition, I’ve been wanting to come,” she said.

“It’s been amazing, I didn’t know what to expect. The atmosphere has been fantastic and I think the coolest thing about it there’s so many people here.

“I have to find a way to come back here every year because it’s just been absolutely fantastic and I’ve got to make this part of my Pooh experience, I love it.”

James Smith, 36, a quantity surveyor from Long Hanborough, was declared the world champion at the end of the event.