Saturday’s Littlehampton Carnival will be the last overseen by president Freda Hughes, and could well be the final summer spectacle of its kind in the town.
Spiralling costs, mounting red tape, dwindling community involvement and hurtful criticism are the key factors behind Freda’s decision to call it quits at this, her 42nd carnival.
She helped to revive the event in the mid-1970s and admits it will be a wrench to walk away from the colourful procession, with its marching bands, dance troupes and ever-creative floats and walking groups.
“it’s been my life for 42 years. And I will miss it. But it’s become too much hassle.
“The costs go up each year, and it gets harder and harder to raise the money to put the carnival on.
“Added to that, the criticism we get, especially on social media, is very hurtful. Of course, the carnival isn’t as big as it used to be.
“People don’t realise that the committee works hard all year round to put on carnival day – and the costs of that one day alone must be around £7,000.”
Carnival queen Eve Edwards and her princesses Jessica Smith, Hannah Unsted and Lucie Feltham, will honour their commitments for the rest of this year and the carnival’s Christmas event will still go ahead, but Freda reckons that will then be it.
“I can’t see how the committee could go on, they are all working people and it’s too much to ask them to carry on.
“Whether anyone else will step into the breach, we will have to see, but I am not hopeful.”
Despite the sadness of her last carnival at the helm, Freda has many happy memories. “One of the highlights was the year we had the Royal Marines Band in the parade, and another time two former mayors, Tony Squires and David Dyball, dressed up in drag on one of the floats, which was so funny.
“We also had Stavros Flatley (the father-and-son comedy dance duo and Britain’s Got Talent finalists in 2009) down here for a fund-raiser, and that was wonderful.”
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