North Devon’s carnivals under threat

Fear for Barnstaple and Bideford carnivals as organisers seek more support

THE colourful North Devon carnival season could suffer a massive blow this September as two of the region’s most popular processions face an uncertain future.

The people of Barnstaple have been urged to attend a vital crunch meeting at the carnival AGM tonight (Wednesday) in the Guildhall to help decide the fate of their much-loved event.

Meanwhile, Bideford carnival is at a crossroads and without someone to take over the reins in 2011 organisers have warned it could end.

Carnival secretary Mike Harper and his partner Gaylena Humphries, who have organised the event since 2003, say they are unable to continue because of increased business commitments.

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“The future of the carnival is in the balance,” said Mike, “it is a wonderful community event and we would wish to see it continue.

“We need some fresh blood, someone with enthusiasm and some new ideas to continue to move the carnival forward.”

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It was a situation they highlighted last year, but no-one came forward and now they could not continue, he said.

Tonight’s Annual General Meeting of Barnstaple Carnival will start at 7.30pm in the Guildhall and anyone who cares about the future of the event is strongly advised to be there.

Carnival committee chairman Arthur Windsor said it would be “extremely important” and called on the people and businesses of the town to come and show their support.

“This year’s AGM will be one of significant importance and could have ramifications as far as the carnival is concerned,” he said.

“Anyone who values watching or taking part in their yearly carnival really should attend.”

The Barnstaple committee would also like to hear from anyone who could offer their services as a volunteer or committee member and organisations that could offer sponsorship, he added.

Bideford organisers Mike and Gaylena took over the role following the death of her father Mike Humphries. He and wife Maureen were at the helm of the carnival for many years and last year Maureen was named as Bideford Town Council’s Citizen of the Year for more than 30 years work for the carnival.

But now health problems have caused Maureen, 68, to give up her role, too.

Other family members and stalwart helpers are keen to continue playing their parts, but without someone to take on the role of overall organisers, the carnival’s days are numbered.

It raised �2,000 for local charities last year and organisers say they have been able to build it up in recent years, with bigger entries and bigger crowds.

“The unique selling point of its massed pipe and drum bands is something we could continue – but that cannot happen without the carnival,” concluded Mike.

Anyone who can help the Bideford event is asked to contact Mike Harper on (01237) 422477.

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