Harmans Cross fete bids farewell to lifelong supporter

After a lifetime devoted to the promotion of Harman’s Cross near Swanage, well known Purbeck Gazette columnist and Purbeck Coast presenter David Hollister is upping sticks and moving to Buckinghamshire.

The news emerged at the Annual Fete and Field Day at Harman’s Cross on Bank Holiday Monday 28th August 2023, which David’s family founded in the 1950s.

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Harmans cross fete 2023

An estimated 2,000 paying adults attended the event along with lots of children boosting the figure to around 5,000 people

Permanent fixture in the Purbeck summer calendar

It all started in the Hollister family’s Harman’s Cross back garden, when the idea of building a hall for the village was first proposed.

The fundraising was begun by his parents and David recalls that the field off Haycrafts Lane was bought for about £90 and a Nissan hut type building was put on the site. The fete moved to the new location and has become a permanent fixture in the Purbeck summer calendar ever since.

Over the years, the old building was extended until there was a need to provide an accessible toilet. Facing a bill of around £60,000 for the work, the bold decision was made to knock it all down and start again.

With about £90,000 in the village hall bank account, the committee started to bid for grants from organisations including The National Lottery and Dorset County Council, as it was then called.

With a huge amount of effort and determination Harman’s Cross village hall was eventually rebuilt in Purbeck stone in 2010 and is now a busy and popular community hub and wedding venue.

Raffle draw at Harmans cross fete 2023

Drawing the tickets for the grand raffle

David Hollister at Harmans cross fete 2023

David Hollister has been the man on the mic at the fete for many years

“We’re off to have a whole new adventure!”

David Hollister, who is no stranger to controversy, doing or saying the unexpected said:

“I’ve had a wonderful time in Harman’s Cross – sorting out the bookings for the village hall, organising the weddings, running events but it’s time to stop.

“I’ve come to the decision that I’m too old for modern committees with all their rules and regulations and hazard assessments. There’s no ill feeling – I’ve resigned from the Harmans Cross village hall committee and we’re off to Gerrards Cross!

“We’re not getting any younger and we really want to be near to our son James and his wife Helen and our lovely grandchild, little Daisy.

“People say that I will miss Harman’s Cross and they’re right. The deepest rut is a grave, so it’s time to move on and do different things.

“I’m still going to keep in touch with everything going on in Purbeck. So many people tell me how much they enjoy reading what I write – there’s a huge amount of positive feedback.

“We have loads of great friends here and the Harmans Cross village hall will continue to go from strength to strength. Once we move, it will be the first time since 1932 that there hasn’t been a Hollister in Harman’s Cross but we’re off to have a whole new adventure!”

The raffle at Harmans cross fete 2023

The Grand Raffle with the top prize of £250 cash!

Harmans Cross fete and field event 2023

Black clouds but the blue sky prevailed with the roof of the village hall in the background

The rain stayed away

Yet again the Harmans Cross Fete was well attended with about 2,000 paying adults plus children enjoying the event.

While black clouds rolled across the sky, the rain stayed away and the sun shone for much of the afternoon.

There were activities for the children, the flower and produce show, arts and crafts stands, a dog agility course, magic and music entertainment, a barbecue, a bar with local beers and, of course, cream teas and cake.

Harmans cross fete 2023

Always something good to read

Chris Finch at Harmans cross fete 2023

Chair of the Harmans Cross Annual Fete and Field Day committee Chris Finch with the Pimms and the Hattie Brown beer

“It’s great to bring everyone together!”

Chair of the Harmans Cross Annual Fete and Field Day committee Chris Finch said:

“Planning started in April, with David Hollister handing me a spreadsheet with all the things to organise, including ordering the loos, which is most important, as no loos, no fete!

“There’s also skip hire for rubbish to book and organising the entertainment – this year we have JDJ, a band from Dorset, and Jamie Jigsaw the children’s entertainer and magician. And there’s lots more to think about as it gets closer to the day.

“I first got involved when David approached me to run the Wheel of Fortune stall and I’m now chairing the committee. David has put in so much effort over the years and I feel I wanted to give something back to the community too.

“It’s a lot of hard work but hopefully everyone is having a good time – it’s great to bring everyone together!”

Jaimie Jigsaw at Harmans cross fete 2023

Jamie Jigsaw entertains the children

JDJ band at Harmans cross fete 2023

Jon, Don and Jon, who make up the band JDJ come from across Dorset

Lots of local suppliers

The fete deliberately chooses to use lots of local suppliers including apple cake from the Corfe Castle village bakery, Love Cake makes the sandwiches and Poole Deli provides the cream teas. Local brewery Hattie Browns provides some of the beers for the bar.

It takes about 120 volunteers to plan, organise and run the fete each year, mainly made up of local residents but also friends and family that have been roped in to help as well.

Attending the fete are many holidaymakers who come especially for the event every year and are impressed by the scale of the fair for such a small place in Dorset.

Jim McGovern at Harmans cross fete 2023

Jim McGovern (right) has been a key volunteer, stepping in to help out Chris Finch this year while he attended his son’s wedding in Devon the day before the fete!

Alison Clough at Harmans cross fete 2023

Chair of the Harmans Cross Village Hall Alison Clough (left) with the volunteers serving up the essential cake and cream teas

“Wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers”

Chair of the Harmans Cross Village Hall Alison Clough said:

“Our village hall is very special as it’s our only community centre – there’s no pub or church in Harman’s Cross. There’s a choir, yoga, martial arts, crafts and movie nights that all happen here.

“But the fete is the big event of the year. It’s been fantastic again with good weather, which is a bonus. It’s an intense team effort that’s very enjoyable but we’ll all go home tired.

“It just wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers, so I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who bake the cakes, put up the marquees, organise the car parking, run the barbecue, cafe and bar plus lots of other jobs too.

“Also a thank you to David Hollister and his family for the legacy of the amazing fete and all that he has done over the years to make it such a success!”

Further information

Dog agility at Harmans cross fete 2023

Whoops – one dog takes the short cut round the agility course!

Harmans cross fete 2023

Plenty to browse at the nick nack stall

Helen Hardy at Harmans cross fete 2023

Helen Hardy promotes her popular ‘Swanage – my happy place’ beach bag

Rotary stall at Harmans cross fete 2023

Swanage and Purbeck Rotary stall with their array of homemade goodies

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