In June every year, if you live anywhere in Cumbria, Lancashire or indeed in Northumberland and Durham in the North East of England, and you live in a relatively rural area you will notice an annual phenomenon: Lots of horse- drawn carriages on the roads, sometimes groups of two or three of them together. You have to slow right down and can only pass them safely when you can be sure there is no on-coming traffic for half a mile ahead!
All of the horse-drawn carriages with heir colourful bow-tops travelling from far and wide are gypsies travelling to Appleby Fair- the largest Annual Gypsy Gathering in Europe. Only this year, it has been cancelled because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Alas, the other day, some gypsies still travelled to and arrived in Appleby, a picturesque town in the Eden Valley in eastern Cumbria. Did no-one tell them that Appleby Fair was OFF?
BBC North West Tonight, which is meant to be so right-on with minority and ethnic groups that it reports regularly on Gay Pride in Manchester and recently, reported extensively on the Black Lives Matter protests in Manchester and Liverpool did not report on a very important piece of news that might impact directly on the 10,000 plus Gypsies living in North West England- the cancellation of Appleby Fair due to Coronavirus. Certainly, as it is the most important such gathering of Gypsies in Europe, it is possible that North West Gypsies who watch BBC North West Tonight might have been informed that in 2020 their big annual gathering is off?
Appleby Fair’s organisers cancelled this gathering back in late March and BBC Look North (Newcastle) reported it so at least Gypsies in the North East of England and northern Cumbria got some warning. Yet there were still Gypsies turning up. Is this because their Regional Television programming just would not tell them because of the Programmers’ “No! We CANT report on Appleby Fair! Appleby’s just beyond our Patch”. So hundreds, possibly thousands of relatively poor people from an overlooked ethnic minority in the North West of England needlessly travelled on horse-back for several days to an event that was cancelled- simply because of BBC North West’s dogmatic refusal to cover anything beyond its transmission boundary. Shameful!