1970s and 1980s
Mike Atkins moved to Puttenham in 1976. He had lived in Tring – where the family baking business was based – all his life until he and his wife Jill decided that village life would be good for their family. Mike and Jill made an immediate effort to integrate with Puttenham residents and soon became known for their numerous social activities, in particular the ‘legendary parties’ they hosted on a regular basis.
But Mike’s ‘piece de resistance’ was undoubtedly on Christmas mornings. While living in Tring he and a friend had the idea of touring the town on a horse and cart, dressed as Father Christmas, complete with presents, balloons and decorations. When he moved to Puttenham, he continued the tradition there, starting at 6am and not finishing until lunchtime.
One year he inflated the balloons with helium but never did so again after the horse – named Queenie – kept bolting every time a balloon burst! This ritual became so popular and so much a tradition of the Christmas period that children would be waiting at their parents’ bedroom windows, waving as Father Christmas passed by.
‘It was great’ was Mike’s comment on the memory during a recent interview. We are sure that all the children in Puttenham felt the same.