Yorkshire holds one of the longest (if not the longest) un-broken traditions in the world which takes place in Ripon every night – that of the Ripon Hornblower.

The tradition dates back to Saxon times when King Alfred gave the town a horn as a symbol of its Royal Charter and suggested the town employ a “Wakeman” to stay awake and guard the town from attack during the hours of darkness. This tradition has continued every day since.

George Pickles was Ripon’s Hornblower between 2003 and 2015 and the last person to hold the title singularly (the duties are shared between a team of four nowadays). While a hornblower, he had some special “Lucky Wooden Pennies” made, which he would give out each evening to tourists who came to the town as a reminder of their visit. It was an idea based on a wooden nickel – considered lucky in the United States.

“As we and those we love, travel along this path of life

sometimes troubles come along, and bring us pain or strife.

When they do just trust in God, his powers they are many,

and good times will return to you, through your lucky wooden penny”.

Since 2004, many thousands of the wooden pennies have been given out and are now carried in the pockets, purses and handbags of people all over the world. Stories of good fortune in terms of health, wealth, happiness, romance, business success and building new friendships reach George on a regular basis.

Last year, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, George had some special wooden pennies made to give out at various events around Ripon on the day. Sadly, due to Coronavirus, all the events were cancelled leaving a pile of special VE Day ‘lucky pennies’ without a home. However, one of George Pickles’ good friends, an ex-Military Blue Badge Tourist Guide called Nick Smith, came up with an idea of how they could find a home for some of these special VE Day anniversary pennies.

Nick Suggested tracking down ex-servicemen and presenting them with a penny as a token of thanks for their service. Nick managed to get pennies distributed to 37 surviving World War 2 veterans at The Royal Hospital at Chelsea through one of the Captain of Invalids, Major Phil D Shannon MBE. Nick also managed to get some of the VE Day lucky wooden pennies to World War 2 Veterans of The Yorkshire regiment and its predecessors.

However, there are still a small quantity of the special VE Day wooden pennies left and George and Nick have asked The Yorkshire Society membership to help spread the word and let military folk and ex-military know that they can request a lucky wooden penny free of charge.

So, if you know of a veteran deserving of a special thank you, and a lucky VE Day wooden penny, please email George directly at: ripon.hornblower@hotmail.co.uk


You can read more about on the Real Yorkshire Blog – https://www.realyorkshireblog.com/post/the-ripon-hornblower-one-of-the-longest-ongoing-traditions-in-the-world-still-just-about-going

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