Watch wacky pancake race in Derbyshire in film made to entertain twin towns in France, Germany and Italy

A film of a wacky pancake race in Wirksworth has been shown online to entertain partner towns in France, Germany and Italy.

It’s the latest contribution in a two-year drive to keep fresh the existing twinning links amid the restrictions of the Covid crisis.

Determined to find activities to take the place of regular visits, the four towns sent short video performances for ‘Community Cabaret’ events which were ‘zoomed’ all over Europe in 2021.

This year so far the focus has been on sharing different traditions for Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras (or even Martedi Grasso or Fasching). From this, the idea of a crazy film of a Wirksworth twinning pancake was born.

Pancakes at the ready....

Co-directed by Rob Gill and Alastair Clark, the event was filmed a little ahead of time in glorious January sunshine starting at the Stoney Wood Star Disc with more than 30 human participants and one dog flipping their way through the streets, the dales and hillsides of the Derbyshire town.

Sue and Richard Cunliffe created a huge pancake race sign but somehow they just could not get their role right in the film, regularly butting into scenes where they weren’t welcome and muffing their entrances.

Local photographer Phil Richards put down his camera to play the part of official starter, launching the race with the words; “Pancake tossers of Wirksworth, are you ready?”

Member of the ukulele group, Wuzzalele, provided an initial sound track to the movie but they were carried away with the spirit of the event and abandoned strumming in favour of flipping their own pancakes.

Phil Richards announces the start of the pancake race.

Former mayor and local thespian Andy Pollock staggered over the finish line and acted out the most dramatic final collapse dangling from a fence.

And in case anyone needed reminding how to make pancakes, the youngest member of the twinning committee Erin Rowlatt provided a high speed demo.

The Wirksworth pancake film was first shown to a Europe-wide audience at an online twinning event in February.

The whole international link-up was dubbed the ‘souper project’, inspired by hearty soup traditionally cooked up in the Italian partner town, Varallo, to ensure that as Lent started, everyone would be well nourished. To mark this, Twinning Association members in Wirksworth offered a local soup to passers-by in the town’s farmers market on Saturday, March 5.

Ukelele group Wuzzalele provided an initial soundtrack to the film but then abandoned strumming to join the pancake race.

Mardi Gras celebrations in Die, the French partner town, focus on pancakes and a special kind of donut – which were demonstrated in the online video.

When street carnival activities in Frankenau in Germany were suspended due to Covid, a local group of young people formed the Eider Elves and got hold of a lorry. Their lorry provided a moving stage and would respond to telephone requests for a 10 minute carnival-style performance right outside people’s front doors.

Assunta Rastelli from the twinning association in Varallo met Alastair Clark from Wirksworth when he visited Italy in the autumn. She said: “We just started talking about our Martedi Grasso carnival and then between us we said: ‘Why not have an event where we share our different traditions online with Zoom?’ We made it happen thanks to so many people playing their part.”

Atmospheric shot shows the pancake racers circling the Star Disc in Wirksworth's Stoney Wood.