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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
18,000-mile trek for fair permits
Newcastle Hoppings
Tens of thousands of people attend the Hoppings
A fairground ride owner almost missed out on attending one of Europe's largest travelling fairs, after his permits ended up in Papua New Guinea.

Nottinghamshire-based Keith James is one of scores of ride operators who attend the annual Hoppings Festival in Newcastle, which began on Friday.

Despite his permits being posted in South Shields, it travelled 18,000 miles before arriving in Selston.

Royal Mail said the incident was probably the result of human error.

Mr James said he was pleased to finally have the permits, with just days to spare before the festival.

Important event

John Murphy, a long-standing organiser of the festival, sent passes to Mr James from a post office in South Shields.

He was later contacted by Mr James, who would not have been allowed on to the site without them, saying he had not received the passes.

After two weeks, and with just days to spare, the letter found its way back from Papua New Guinea and arrived at the Selston home of the ride owner.

Despite the near miss, Mr James, 62, who has been running rides at the Hoppings for 40 years, said: "The Hoppings is one of the most important events I do every year, so I would have been devastated to miss it."

A spokesman for Royal Mail said: "It's impossible to be certain what happened with this letter. It could have been human error, it could have got stuck to another bit of mail intended for Papua, New Guinea - we just don't know."

The 124th Hoppings Festival will last two weeks and is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors from all over the North East.

Hoppings fair rolls into town
21 Jun 02 |  England

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