London, September 4 : The annual festival celebrated in southwest England in honour of Dr. Syn, the smuggler hero of a series of novels by Russell Thorndike, was marred by health and safety concerns this year.
Villagers in Dymchurch, Kent, did not gallop along a nearby beach and ride through the streets for a Day of Syn celebrating the hero, as they have done on August 2 every year over the past four decades, for want of insurance cover.
Many insurers rejected cover outright, and the cheapest quote was 1,000 pounds.
"For 44 years Dr Syn has burst into the festival on horseback. He is the main show and when he makes his entrance people are truly overwhelmed. But this time he just had to walk around. It just wasn't the same," the Telegraph quoted Ian Hyson, Chairman of the Day of Syn, as saying.
"He has been on horseback since 1964, but this year the insurers just did not want to know because they said riding a horse was a 'severe' health and safety risk. Only one insurer would listen and they quoted us 1,000 pounds. We simply cannot afford that, so had to do without," Hyson added.
The organisers say that they have relied on public liability insurance to cover the event in previous years, but they were surprised to discover that the policy that cost around 450 pounds for the entire festival did not cover someone on horseback.
Angela Green, a fan of the books, said: "I've read all his novels and when it comes down to it Dr Syn is a horseman, plain and simple. For him to be without a horse makes a mockery of the whole thing. He's on the front cover of the first ever book for God's sake."
Russell Thorndike wrote seven Dr. Syn books set around Romney Marsh, from 1915 including titles such as The Courageous Exploits of Dr Syn, Dr Syn on the High Seas and The Amazing Quest of Dr Syn. Thorndike died in 1972 at the age of 87.