This weekend (6th & 7th July) saw the return for the 4th year in succession of the Danson Park Country Fair in Bexleyheath.
Whilst this particular event has only been running for 4 years; the Danson Festival had previously been the highlight of the year in the borough of Bexley for some 30 years, before it was cancelled in 2014 due to the ‘poor condition of the grounds’.
I was delighted when this event returned in 2016. The decision to cancel the annual Danson Show was hugely disappointing to me personally as I have a strong affinity to this event.
Before my career in commercial management in professional football, I spent 15 enjoyable years working for the Midland Bank (now the HSBC) and every July throughout the 1980’s I used to organise the Midland Bank’s summer promotion at the annual ‘Danson Festival’ in Danson Park.
Every year some 50,000 people would attend the Show over the weekend and our ‘summer roadshow’ themed promotion – which always had pop music blasting out from our marquee courtesy of my friend Sam Daniels’ ‘Black Night Disco for all occasions’ equipment – was used to promote the Bank’s youth products and services. In the early days we also used to co-promote Thomas Cook holidays as, at that time, the company was owned by the Midland Bank. Sam, myself and my mate John Fuller took turns over the weekend to ‘spin the discs’!
Our annual extravaganzas at Danson Park were staffed by a group of hard-working volunteers from the local Midland Bank branches who would spend the whole weekend resplendent in whatever promotional t-shirt the Bank wanted us to wear and handing out leaflets, stickers and promotional gifts and, when they weren’t doing that, they’d be dancing in the park with the huge number of people we always attracted around our marquee.
Although I left the Midland Bank in 1988 to join Charlton Athletic FC as Commercial Manager, I continued to organise these annual summer parties but now the focus was on promoting the Club, which at that time of course was ground-sharing Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace.
However, many of my former Bank colleagues joined me for the first ever Charlton Athletic Danson Show weekend in July 1988 and helped to staff our promotion, which was important when you consider that at that time Charlton Athletic had fewer than ten members of non-playing staff in total working at our portacabin office at Selhurst Park and at our Training Ground in New Eltham.
Subsequent Charlton Athletic promotions at the Danson Show saw collaborations with our then Club sponsors the Woolwich Equitable Building Society and our friends at the NewsShopper, which I wrote a weekly column for in those days called ‘Reds Review’.
Were you ever part of those Midland Bank or Charlton Athletic Danson Show teams of hard-working volunteers in the 80’s and early 90’s? If you were, I hope that these few notes bring back some special memories for you as they do for me, of happy times spent with great friends, colleagues and dear family members and of line dancing outside a marquee in the middle of Danson Park to the interminable sound of Jingo’ by Candido!