THOUSANDS turned out in the sunshine for the Stratton Festival this weekend, including Hounds for Heroes founder Alan Parton.

More than 5,000 people took part in the first revival in 40 years of the Stratton Festival by the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, which marked the feast day of St Margaret.

John Foley, chairman the Parish Council, said: “It’s an outstanding success and it shows just what the people of Stratton can do when they get together.

“Last year it started at the end of term and we put on It’s A Knockout, where we had a bouncy castle and all the children enjoyed it. So we thought why don’t we resurrect the Stratton Carnival, which used to be held every year on July 18, which is the feast day of St Margaret.”

So many people came along to set up stalls in the Craft and Food Fayre that it overspilled the marquee. Children were spellbound with two shows from Clive and Lyn Denton’s traditional Victorian Punch and Judy Show in the Kids Zone, and community radio station Swindon 105.5 had a water-zapping Dalek to exterminate overheated passersby.

Lisa Willis and her family, of Sandgate, came out to the festival for the day. She said: “It’s good, we’ve all really enjoyed ourselves. We live quite close and the kids came home with the leaflet for it in their schoolbags so we thought we’d come along.”

There was also live music running all day, an appearance from TV Chef Peter Vaughan, a bouncy castle and displays from the Wiltshire Fire and rescue Team, Wiltshire Police, the Scouts and the Air Cadets.

More than 2,000 pints were drunk at the beer and cider festival, which sported 19 different ales and eight ciders and perrys, and 10 motorbikes and 30 vintage and classic cars turned up for the rally.

A main attraction was the Animal Zone organised by Drove Vets, who are supporting the charity Hounds for Heroes.

They invited founder and ex-serviceman, Alan Parton, who was injured in the Gulf War, along to judge Doggie Hero and Best In Show awards for local pooches.

Hounds for Heroes was founded in 2009 in memory of Alan’s dog Endal, who supported him through his recovery.

Alan, who was the face of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, said: “Endal taught me the emotions I had lost, he taught me to laugh again, how to love my wife again and when he died he taught me how to grieve again.

“It’s been heartwarming to see the level of support we’ve been given.”

Over the past year Drove Vets have been inviting Swindonians to nominate a hero dog, and of the five finalists Alan judged Rosie Reid’s two-year-old Lurcher, Boo, as the Doggie Hero.

Rosie became ill after falling pregnant, and when she miscarried she was heartbroken. It was at this point that Boo came into her life and helped her to move on.

“I’m very proud. of course I’m a bit biased and I feel like she’s deserved it,” said the 26-year-old.

“She just mended my heart.”

The day was rounded off with a barn dance and a raffle with prizes including a bicycle and a lawnmower donated by Honda to raise money for the War Memorial project.