Flamstead Scarecrow Festival cancelled in the wake of murder investigation

PUBLISHED: 10:29 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 07 August 2019

Visitors to the Flamstead Scarecrow Festival 2018. Picture: DANNY LOO

Visitors to the Flamstead Scarecrow Festival 2018. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

A popular village scarecrow festival has been cancelled in the wake of a recent tragedy.

Visitors to the Flamstead Scarecrow Festival 2018. Picture: DANNY LOOVisitors to the Flamstead Scarecrow Festival 2018. Picture: DANNY LOO

Organisers have decided not to hold the annual Flamstead event following the death of resident Christine Ford.

Her body was discovered in a property on the High Street on Saturday July 27, and a 64-year-old man has since been charged with her murder.

In a statement made on August 2, a week before the start of the festival, the Flamstead Scarecrow Festival Committee said that under the circumstances they felt obligated to cancel all proceedings.

Reverend Tom Sander, from St Leonard's Church, explained: "It was the decision of the committee together to cancel the Scarecrow Festival. It is a decision that has been understood empathetically.

A murder investigation has been launched after 71-year-old Christine Ford was found dead in Flamstead. Picture: Herts policeA murder investigation has been launched after 71-year-old Christine Ford was found dead in Flamstead. Picture: Herts police

"It was not an easy decision. I want to pay tribute to the hard work of the committee."

The festival started in 2002, and over the years, the village has welcomed thousands of people to walk its streets and vote on their favourite scarecrow display during a long weekend in August.

Rev Sanders added: "The festival will be back next year in its normal format and we look forward to all that it brings to our community."

Last year's festival raised £23,000 for Friends of St Leonard's and the Flamstead Heritage Project, organisations intended to promote and fund full repairs of the 900-year-old, Grade I listed building.

St Leonard's Church held a vigil in the wake of her death last week, offering support to those saddened by the event and a chance to pay their respects.

Father Tom described Christine as "very nice and kind and thoughtful". He said: "I know she cared lots about her family.

"She used to love gardening and did the flowers in the church garden."

"People have turned to the church and are welcome to do so. People often come to church for comfort and hope at times like this."

Brian Coote, 64, of High Street, Flamstead, appeared in court in Hatfield on Saturday August 3 charged with murder. He was remanded into custody to wait for his next hearing.

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