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Scarecrow Festival launched to raise money for brave Harvey Hext

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

  • Jess Monks with the Trotters

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Residents wandering around the villages and hamlets of North Somerset could be forgiven for thinking they’re in the celebrity-friendly enclaves of Notting Hill or Soho.

But they need not fear they have stumbled out of the Groucho Club with an almighty hangover – those slightly hazy familiar faces on display are part of a scarecrow festival in aid of a very ill young boy.

Straw-filled characters including popstars like George Michael and Amy Winehouse appear in Winford, where the festival has been launched to raise money to help Harvey Hext, who is suffering with a rare form of cancer.

Both George and Amy have been joined by other straw-stuffed stars, including David Tennant and even Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards for the Winford Parish Scarecrow Festival.

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It is the brainchild of Sam Probert and so far has seen 71 scarecrows – dressed with the theme ‘Great Britons’ – appear across Winford, Regil, Chew Stoke, Felton and Wrington.

All the money raised from the festival – which encourages people to follow a trail to find all the scarecrows – goes to the Harvey Hext Appeal.

People can buy a brochure with maps about where the scarecrows are located.

The brochure, costing £2, contains a cryptic clue to the identity of the scarecrow and people are asked to fill in a list on the rear and return it for the chance to win a bike.

Six-year-old Harvey is believed to be the only child in the world with Down’s syndrome and neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that attacks the nervous system.

His family are desperately trying to raise £300,000 to send him to Germany or America for life-saving treatment.

Sam, 36, was inspired to do something to raise money to help Harvey because her daughter goes to school with him and the pair have become firm friends.

Sam, a full-time mum, said: “I wanted to do something to spread the word about Harvey and raise money for the appeal so came up with the idea of the scarecrow festival.

“Initially I planned for it just to be held in Winford, but the whole thing has snowballed and there are scarecrows in other areas such as Chew Stoke and Felton.

“Local residents and businesses have really embraced the idea.”

Staff at Chew Magna community farm are one of the businesses to enter a scarecrow – dressed as Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis.

And when Mr Eavis heard about the fundraiser, he donated some of his own clothes for his straw filled lookalike to wear. Mrs Probert added: “For Mr Eavis to donate his own clothes for the scarecrow is amazing and I am now contacting other celebrities who have scarecrows designed after them to see if they will do the same.”

Scarecrows featuring in the trail also include the Loch Ness Monster, designed by Mrs Probert’s husband Ross, which lives outside their house at Church Road.

Others include Del Boy, Rodney and Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses and Olympic diver Tom Daley on a diving board, created by Harvey’s dad Dave.

Cyclist Chris Hoy, singer David Bowie and businessman Richard Branson are also featured.

It is hoped the festival will raise around £3,000.

Mrs Probert is also planning to hold a scarecrow country fair at Winford Primary School on October 20 from 11am to 3pm to bolster funds further.

The festival runs until October 28 and brochures can be purchased from Winford Village Stores; Chew Stoke Village Stores; Moondance Café, Chew Magna; Chew Lake Tea Rooms; Butcombe Brewery, Wrington; and the Walled Garden, Wrington.

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