The tide seems to be turning against the once popular tradition of staging a carnival. NATALIE BOWYER finds out if our communities can pull together for these fundraising events, or if the day of the carnival is over. THE sight of colourful floats snakin

Caitlin Price, a 10-year-old pupil at Hartford Junior School, said: “I think carnivals are fun. I like watching the colourful floats.”

The tide seems to be turning against the once popular tradition of staging a carnival. NATALIE BOWYER finds out if our communities can pull together for these fundraising events, or if the day of the carnival is over.

THE sight of colourful floats snaking down the streets of Huntingdonshire could soon disappear if more support is not found for the district's carnivals.

Last Wednesday the official death of this year's St Neots Carnival was announced.

Thomas Owen, a retired fire officer from Hartford, said: “We should all rally round to support the carnivals as they are a tradition that deserves to be saved.”

Addressing St Neots Town Council, Jean Searle, chairman of the carnival committee, said: "At our last annual meeting in November there were only five people who attended. We have now come to the conclusion that we do not have enough manpower or funding to continue."

A tearful Mrs Searle added that, although the extraordinary meeting of the carnival committee had been publicised, just four members of the public had attended.

A St Neots businessman had even come forward offering to fund the carnival, but that support also withered away.

"Now, we are back to where we were on December 10, with no support and no money.

John Carter, a 43-year-old police community support officer from Huntingdon, said: “Carnivals are a good thing as they keep the local population entertained and anything that keeps people out of mischief is a good thing. I was bought up in London and have

"Sadly, two people cannot continue to organise this event. I'm sorry to say that we are in a very bad situation and the committee will have to be wound up.

"People are welcome to come up with ideas, but I think we are a bit late for a carnival this year. I still think people will be lining the streets of St Neots in August waiting for the procession, even though they were not willing to put their hands in their pockets.

"Maybe if it did not take place this year then it would make people sit up and take notice."

She added that only £2,500 was raised from last year's carnival - it costs £7,000 to stage it.

At least St Neots Carnival celebrated its 60th year last year and went "out with a bang," she said.

The town council will look at bringing the carnival back in another guise, but does the traditional carnival have a future elsewhere?

STRUGGLING

RAMSEY: Mandy Corney, who helps organise the carnival, said: "The committee has at various times in recent years asked for additional persons to join the committee and unfortunately nothing has improved in this regard, leaving us a very committed but dwindling committee of only three or four members. It has now been decided that, unless persons come forward to assist the committee with this year's planned carnival for July 12, the event would reluctantly have to be cancelled."

INFORMATION: Anyone interested in helping with the carnival, should phone Candy Dodsley on 01487 812673.

ST IVES: Sylvia Gawthorp, who has helped organise the carnival for the past 10 years, said: "We rely heavily on the support of the public and the reason we can continue to stage it year after year is because people continue to put their hands in their pockets."

A total of 10 people help to organise the carnival, which receives a grant of £3,000 towards the event and costs between £5,000 and £7,000 to stage. Its future looked in doubt earlier in the year when Mrs Gawthorp had to stand down because of illness. However, Shaun Collins from the Music Box, in St Ives, has taken up the mantle and says the carnival will go ahead this year despite having only a small committee of helpers.

INFORMATION: Contact Shaun Collins on 07775 954800.

WELL SUPPORTED

SOMERSHAM: Helen Ryde, a member of the Somersham Carnival committee, said: "We are doing fine. Last year a few people left the committee but people always come forward to fill the spaces. Obviously, we would always like some more people to help us but we have enough to make it happen. We always cover our costs and last year we made nearly £2,000 in donations from people that we gave back to the village."

GODMANCHESTER: Stuart Bond, chairman of Godmanchester Community Association, said: "We would definitely like a few more people to help us out but we get by with our committee of 20 or 30 people and the extra 15 or 20 who volunteer to help on the day. What we would like are more parents to get involved and share their input as the event is for families."

He added that it costs a couple of thousand pounds, which is covered.