Safety first at Hull Fair
When 500,000 people visit Hull Fair this month, everything will be in place to ensure the action-packed week runs smoothly and safely
Staging Europe's largest travelling fair every year in Walton Street requires teamwork and planning.
And Cheryl Ribbitt (pictured above), an events officer with Hull City Council, is one of a number of people from agencies across the city who work together to ensure the event's success.
In fact preparations are so thorough that as soon as one fair ends the work begins on getting ready for the following year.
"A lot of people think the fair rolls into town and then just rolls out again a week later but that's not the case, we have to prepare thoroughly to ensure public safety," Cheryl says.
One of the first things visitors to the fair will notice this year will be a new and huge banner across the entrance to West Park reminding people that the showground is an alcohol-free zone.
Although the alcohol ban was in place in previous years, the banner will send out a bold and clear message.
Anyone found carrying bottles or cans of beer, lager, cider or other alcoholic drinks will be asked to hand them over to stewards.
The banner is just the latest example of how different organisations are working together to maintain public safety.
'Multi-agency' meetings are held six times a year, in which representatives from Hull City Council, the Health and Safety Executive, the KC Stadium management company, Humberside Police, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, St John Ambulance and the Yorkshire Showmen's Guild make plans for the fair.
Not only that, but many different departments of Hull City Council are involved in the preparation and running of the fair, including staff from legal, education, traffic, park rangers, waste management, and last but certainly not least, the toilet cleaners.
"I act as a linchpin for all the organisations and make sure all the key people get involved and know what they need to do," adds Cheryl.
She arranges the meetings and sets the agendas, and works with showmen to ensure they have the necessary test and safety certificates and insurances for their rides.
She also works with elected ward councillors who can report any fair-related information or concerns they receive from local residents, and makes sure electricians have safety-checked the electricity supplies and generators.
Finally, once the fair is open to the public, the team also has daily briefings to discuss how the fair went the night before and to respond to any safety issues.
St John Ambulance provides around 40 staff, two ambulances, two first aid posts and a lost children's assembly point.
A doctor, nurses and paramedics are also present.
"The vast majority of people are responsible and have a good time but illness and accidents happen," says St John Ambulance spokesman Stuart Wersby, who has ten years' experience of the fair.
"Hundreds of thousands of people attend so the number of incidents we respond to is proportionally very low, but we are available on site whenever people need medical help.
"We don't know what will happen, we could have anything from headaches to heart attacks, but we are ready.
"Last year we dealt with 163 cases, with 19 patients taken to hospital, so we are kept busy."
Patients may be taken ill because of existing medical conditions which require treatment, or it could be as a result of trips and falls, or feeling unwell after eating too many burgers and chips and going on one too many rides.
Meanwhile, there will be a strong Humberside Police presence with police officers, special constables and police community support officers on duty during the week.
Members of the public are reminded not to leave valuables on display in parked and unattended vehicles or carry valuables such as jewellery and personal stereos, that may be targeted by opportunist thieves.
"Humberside Police has been working with partner agencies to ensure everyone can enjoy Hull Fair," says Inspector Karen De Braal.
"We will be seeking to ensure the public can come and thoroughly enjoy their visit in a safe and pleasant environment."
Hull Fair Facts
- the showground covers 16 acres and stretches a mile along Walton Street
- it has 270 rides and more than 80 food stalls
- the fair dates back 715 years to 1293
- many travelling showmen and their families have visited for generations and regard it as the highlight of their year
- this year's event runs from October 10 - 18 (excluding Sunday October 12)