Barnstaple carnival is saved

Joseph Bulmer

Event will take place again this year following eleventh-hour meeting

THE future of Barnstaple Carnival has been secured at a crunch meeting in the town.

Local voluntary organisations, businesses and individuals have stepped forward to save the annual event, which was axed in January when the organising committee was forced to fold due to a lack of support.

An eleventh-hour call to arms by a former carnival chairman means the traditional procession, first held in the town in 1931, will now go ahead to coincide with Barnstaple Fair Week on Saturday, September 17.

Jo Thompson, who is also the president of Barnstaple St John Ambulance, said that 12 new trustees had been found prior to the meeting on Thursday night.

“The three existing trustees have now formally retired and the Barnstaple Fair Carnival Association transferred to a new committee,” she said.

“Things will carry on exactly the same and we would first like to sincerely thank the former trustees and committee members for all their hard work.”

Among the groups to attend the meeting at the St John Ambulance HQ were the town’s two Rotary clubs; Barnstaple Lions Club; Barnstaple Inner Wheel; Soroptimist International of Barnstaple; the town’s army and seas cadet units; St John Ambulance; Barnstaple Town Centre Management; and the South West Truckers.

“The atmosphere at the meeting was lovely, with lots of people chipping in ideas,” said Mrs Thompson.

“There was a good turn-out and everyone came with ideas about what they could do to help. Although we didn’t elect officers of the committee, everyone went away knowing what their certain area of responsibility would be.

“To ensure we comply with the requirements of the carnival constitution and the Charity Commission, committee members will be elected at the first meeting on March 28.”

Mrs Thompson also said that while the tradition would continue, changes to the format were inevitable.

“The town has changed a lot in the last 10 years and now is a good time to review things and see how we can move forward,” she said.

“One of the things we are looking at is a new form up place but this is something that we will need to consider in consultation with the police and local council.”

Mrs Thompson said that organisers were keen to promote the “put in a pound” message to members of the public and were interested to hear from volunteers willing to offer some of their time to help with stewarding on the day.

To get involved, call Jo Thompson on 07732 652785. They can also contact the North Devon Gazette on (01271) 341629.


Meanwhile in Bideford, around a dozen people turned up to a similar meeting held to discuss the future of the town’s own carnival.

Mike Harper, carnival secretary, said the group was happy to work towards taking the carnival forward and wanted to go ahead with an event this year. But at present there is no leader as such and they are to hold another meeting in a week or so to work out what they are going to do and who does what.