Popular carnival goes from strength to strength

Littlehampton Carnival president Freda Hughes
Littlehampton Carnival president Freda Hughes

IT wasn’t exactly an auspicious start for the campaign to bring back Littlehampton Carnival in the mid-1970s.

Freda Hughes, now the carnival president, and her friend, Kay Clevett, decided their first move should be a jumble sale to pay for some headed notepaper, but the event flopped.

It didn’t stop them pressing on, however, and in the summer of 1975, the first carnival procession for some years wound its way through the town, with Carnival Queen Beverley Bence wearing a crown and a gown made by Kay.

“There’s no comparison with the dresses the girls wear now. We were so short of money the queens wore the same dress for the first three years,” recalled Freda.

But while the carnival has gone from strength to strength while similar events in other towns have dwindled, Freda looks back fondly on those early days.

“We would have about 60 entrants for the Carnival Queen competition, which used to take place at the old Beach Hotel, and then at the Littlehampton School and St Catherine’s Church centre.

“We don’t get the same support from the community we used to, and it gets harder every year to organise the carnival, with all the health and safety regulations and the cost of hiring a lorry for groups who want a float.

“But we have a wonderful committee and it just wouldn’t be possible without them,” said Freda.