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25th Anniversary of Challenge Anneka and Wadebridge’s 180-foot Bridge

Challenge Anneka

Anneka Rice in a yellow waterproof, a hard hat, surrounded by lots of happy Cornish folk and a bridge. Who remembers this old-school TV show?

It was all kicking off on November 16th in 1991 when Anneka was set the “180 Foot Bridge” challenge in Wadebridge, for the famous TV show “Challenge Anneka”. This year will mark the 25th anniversary of this very episode, alongside the bridge still standing strong, but what’s the story?

Challenge Anneka consisted of Anneka being given a task to accomplish within a certain period of time, usually between two or three days. Having no idea of what the task will entail, and persuading companies and people to contribute their time and resources for free – always for a good cause!

This time, she was set the ultimate task to build a footbridge AND hold a party, do you think you’d be up for the challenge?

Wadebridge challenge anneka

In just under four days, a footbridge of steel and wood was built over The River Camel. Its completion then resulted in a huge party for the whole town, finally being united by the foot bridge, all thanks to Anneka Rice and the committed Cornish community.

Wadebridge challenge anneka

For years the community of Wadebridge had to hike across the town and over the town’s only bridge; filled with bustling cars, narrow pavements, accompanied by wind and rain making their journey across the river a complete nightmare. In the programme you can watch as Anneka runs back and forth, moaning of how much of a trek it was to get to the other side of the river!

Her challenge to build a footbridge, would not only make it easier to cross the river but the two halves of Wadebridge would finally be united! If it wasn’t fixed quickly, the town could have resulted in a serious two-sided battle! Of course, the people of Wadebridge were delighted when Anneka showed up and told them about the development of the town; before anything could truly kick off…

Wadebridge challenge anneka

Primarily, the town’s local doctor, Dr. Bailey had started a fund for the footbridge but unfortunately after his passing the dream of the footbridge soon fizzled away. Ada Martin from Wadebridge was determined to see this dream become a reality, thus getting Anneka into town to make the change the whole town needed.

The locals were thrilled when the construction of the bridge was in full swing, with the help of a whole range of Cornish and Devon businesses getting involved. Children were truly excited that they will be able to cross the river quickly and safely to meet their friends in the park. One man couldn’t even remember the last time he crossed over the river. Now he couldn’t wait to grab his walking stick and take a stroll across to the park. With all those years admiring the view, he could now experience it for himself without a worry.

Who remembers Anneka’s soundman, Dave Chapman? He would make all sorts of appearances on this memorable TV show. He would often be found giving Anneka a little helping hand from time to time, but on this particular episode, he was reunited with a few Cornish family members, and it turns out Ada is actually Aunty Ada! Oh, the Duchy never fails to surprise us!

Wadebridge challenge anneka

The whole programme was a breath of fresh air, watching this change happen in a matter of days filled with a ton of community spirit. Cornwall Council gave the bridge a thumbs up, meaning the two halves of Wadebridge could finally be united. Ada Martin kicked off the party with the light switch on, followed by a proud walk across the new and beloved footbridge which is still proudly walked across today.

Do you recognise anyone in the video below?

Credit: BBC, Tinopolis
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