THE fete season went out on a high in Dorset, as a very sunny Weldmar Fete drew thousands to the annual event - along with long standing supporter Martin Clunes.

The Doc Martin actor - who lives in west Dorset - caught up with the Echo and recounted his first visit to the fete.

"My daughter Emily was just a baby - I remember carrying her in my arms - she's 20 now.

"I've been coming back every year as it's such a good event - and, for those not 'fete-ed out' already, it's a really nice way to end the fete season.

"As a Dorset resident I think it's particularly important to support Weldmar as our local hospice, so I'm proud to be among its long-standing supporters and to have spent a lot of time visiting here over the years."

A queue of people waited at the gates for the event to open as we arrived, and by the time we caught up with organiser Abi Shirley, crowds had already packed out the grounds of the hospice.

"I'm delighted", she said. "It's my first time organising the fete - I'm so happy now that the doors are open and so many people are arriving.

"We've been so blessed with the weather - we're hoping to see a turnout of over 3000 people throughout the day."

Abi told me that a new addition alongside the usual stalls and games, was a memory ribbon stand, where those who have lost a loved one can tie a ribbon to the trees in their memory.

Over on the sunflower stall, Weldmar community engagement fundraiser Emily Fisher said: "We had people queueing up well before 11am, so there was a great rush of people as soon as the fete opened."

Also at the event was Carle Grahame, chairman of Chickerell's Transport of Yesteryear Club, with his vintage 1935 Beardmore Taxi.

"I believe it's our 19th year at the fete", he said. "It's a brilliant charity to support - I'm sure everyone in Dorset knows somebody who's been helped by Weldmar."

A colourful - and sometimes noisy - mix of stalls provided entertainment for all, including an interesting take on a coconut shy, whereby visitors attempted to smash crockery from a sideboard, as well as delicious food and drink stalls.

We spotted Dorset councillor Ryan Hope among the crowds. He told us the charity had a special meaning to him as they looked after his grandma."It's an enjoyable day out", he added. "I come every year with my family."


t: 01305 830984


twitter: @DorsetEchoEllie