Squash by the Gallon

Nearly 20 years ago Frank and Eileen (Wall) got into the Tanners Marathon activities for real. The first Sunday in July was for us a scramble. We started off with our A35 van, a churn or two of water and a few cups and great hopes of supplying the gallant walkers with a drink at our allotted refreshment point. Each year we got more organized and acquired more containers and beakers and so were not so dependent on the goodwill of householders when asking them for water. This looking for water was a hoot most of the time since, when we first volunteered to man the drinks points, we could often be located a mile or so from the nearest house and I have seen Frank take off across the fields with the hope of finding some kind sole to fill his water container for him. He took a tumble a few times but luckily never encountered a bull, only an angry resident who was convinced we were trading for profit on their patch.

A year or two passed by and Frank and Eileen acquired a trailer and were able to take on board 80 gallons of water, more beakers, a folding table, washing up bowels and buckets for mixing up the squash. We usually cover two or three drink points and walkers reach us footsore and weary but in high spirits and our first aid is put to the test with cold swabs, bandages, soothing cream or whatever comfort and help we can offer. We have all encountered some very wet marathons, not at all pleasant, especially for the walkers and most of all the children; well, they are just wonderful. We all enjoy our yearly get together meeting old friends and making new ones.

Frank and Eileen have had many funny encounters over the years. On one occasion my sister and husband were visiting us from Ireland and so came to help at our first drink point at Coldharbour with the "Local" close by. My brother-in-law being partial to a pint was soon legless and we had to abandon him and carry on to the next drink point. We returned later in the pouring rain to find him fast asleep, and my sister saw to it that he did not get a second chance to be stationed near a pub!

Another time we had our friend Bridget with us and were located on marshy ground. She needed to find a wee patch for nature's call. A frog hoped over her feet, we heard a scream and the rest we will leave to your imagination.

One year our friend Norah came to help and insisted on bringing her dog. The dog took off chasing a rabbit and Norah went after him. The dog came back and Norah got lost in the woods leaving us without help - Frank was not amused.

Frank and Eileen now have a small car and a roof rack and the organizers keep us supplied with water and squash throughout the day. We have so many happy memories and the walkers are so friendly and appreciative.

About seven years ago Margaret, our daughter, and a member of the old Epsom & Ewell YHA group, husband and two girls came to help us and this year they plan to come from their home in Wales to take part in Tanners. So here is our own special wish for a successful 25th Anniversary Tanners Marathon.

Eileen & Frank Wall