Time for that ‘Blitz spirit’ says Gypsy spokesman Billy Welch as he gets behind Appleby Fair-goer flood fund

14 December 2015

Billy Welch, the influential Romany Gypsy businessman and Gypsy member of the Appleby Fair Multi Agency oversight committee, has endorsed the Fund for Appleby set up for fans and fair- goers of the famous “sacred” horse fair to help the people of the town following the devastating recent floods.

“I’m appealing to Romany Gypsies and Travellers to support this fund-raising effort,” says Billy. “It’s heart-breaking to see the devastation to the town that every year hosts Appleby Fair, an event that is sacred to all of us.”

The devastating flood, which put parts of the town under five feet of fast flowing river water and “split the town into two haves”, came when the River Eden burst its banks after the North West of England suffered the worst storms in fifty years.

Thanks to Tilly Raine for this

Posted by Appleby in Westmorland on Saturday, 5 December 2015


“Every year the people of Appleby Town host Appleby Fair,” says Billy. “This event is a sacred event to our people and I made a trip to Appleby just after the floods to see how the towns’ people were coping.”

“The river is high and the bridges are down and some of the town is still under water. I had to take a 42 mile round trip just to get from one half of the town to the other.”

“The emergency services are doing a brilliant job and the people are helping each other, making sure the elderly and vulnerable are safe and warm and sharing their homes with those who have lost theirs.”

The Appleby Fans Fund was set up by Lisa Housley as a way of fans and fair-goers – to donate money to help the flood relief and clear-up efforts in Appleby. The fund was covered in a recent Travellers’ Times story http://travellerstimes.org.uk/News/Appleby-hit-by-devastating-floods.aspx and the fund can be viewed by following this link: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/lisa-housley.

Lisa will be meeting with Billy to see how the monies from the fund and donations from face to face collections can best be fed into the Town’s own flood relief fund.

Lisa Housley, who runs the 37,000 strong Appleby Fair community Facebook page, said: “I am delighted that Billy is supporting this cause.”

“We all love Appleby Fair and I look forward to the day when we have completed the fund-raising and we can hand the money over to the people of Appleby.”

The people of Appleby are not taking the floods lying down. Although the damage is severe, many people are homeless and parts of the town remain without power, the people of Appleby have organised a Christmas Carol service on the banks of the River Eden. The event will happen on both sides of the river as one part of the town is now cut off from the other part.

Posting on their Facebook page about the Carol service that will happen tomorrow on December 15th, the organisers said:

“Appleby has been hit by the worst floods for years & has left our town in bits but also, in two halves! Let’s have a bit of festive cheer & get some Christmas Spirit back with a Christmas Carol Sing-Off across the River Eden, raising some cash while we do it! Get wrapped up, bring your torches & your best singing voice! Let’s find our whether the Town side or the Sands side are better!

I realize this is short notice, but then so were the floods that have devastated our town! Let’s get the word out, share this event, invite your friends, get them to invite their friends, let’s have a night to remember & raise some cash to help get our amazing little town back on its feet!”

Billy Welch said: “It’s a terrible mess, but the community are pulling together and doing what they can. It’s like the Blitz spirit during the war and our support would be welcome.”

“Every year the kind people of Appleby welcome us with open arms and now is a good time for all of us who love Appleby Horse Fair to show our appreciation by supporting Lisa’s special fund-raising effort.”