This report must begin with a tribute to our new and retiring Festival Queens, sisters Niamh and Roisin Quigg. On Saturday Roisin opened her speech with a request for all present to observe a 1 minute silence in support of those affected by the Manchester bombing and, less than 24 hours later, Niamh found herself reading prayers for those affected by the attacks in London. Both girls showed remarkable maturity in these difficult times and we are all very proud to have them as ambassadors for our community in the coming year.
On a day bathed in warm sunshine villagers gathered in huge numbers to watch events begin outside The Grapes Inn. Earlier in the day judges Rebecca Birkby and Jackie Cockayne had been out and about awarding prizes in the Shops Houses & Wheelbarrows competition. The many colourful entries made the task far from easy and we thank everyone who took part. As the Procession took shape the crowds were entertained by Hannah & Grace Chadwick with a skilful and artistic Aerial Hoop display, by the Maypole dancing team in the traditional fashion and by the Carol May Academy dancers with a vibrant routine from The Great Gatsby.
This year’s Festival Theme “Flower Power” was chosen as a tribute to the late Tom Kirby who supported the Festival and his community in many ways. We were delighted to welcome Guy and Carol Topping representing Barton Grange, who judged the Festival Float competition and went on to present a new award to the Festival Queen, The Tom Kirby Rosebowl, given as a mark of the esteem in which Tom was held. We were especially pleased to welcome Eddie Topping and Tom’s daughter Helen Roberts who, with her husband Alan, judged the Fancy Dress competition and then joined Guy in Presenting the delightful rose bowl, which is inscribed with Tom’s name.
Our other Special Guests this year were Councillor & Mrs Brian & Trisha Rollo, Mayor & Mayoress of the City of Preston, chairmen of the Parish councils, clergy representatives and, representing Longridge & North Preston Rotary, Mr & Mrs Andrew & Kirsty Wallbank. Andrew presented a most welcome donation of £500 to Festival Funds, given in memory of Tom.
We thank the community for their huge enthusiasm for this year’s event. We were inundated with donations of delicious baking, a fabulous array of raffle prizes, and ample help on the day in so many different ways to affirm this highlight of the village year.
Special mention must be made of Paul Cross, who baked trays and trays of mouth watering pastries before taking his place on the fabulous Goosnargh’s Most Wanted Float, of Eryl Fryer who transformed from crack of dawn butty maker to Judges’ Escort to Celebration Tea server and was still with us at 8pm loading rubbish into the bins, and of Alex Johnson who single handedly decorated the Village Hall and was out on the road before 8am on Festival morning setting up and had also arranged for his fellow students from Preston’s College to come along and entertain the crowds. Just a few of the army of dedicated committee members and volunteers who make up the Festival Day team. Thank you all!
Just days before the Festival, Maypole dancing trainer Sheila Birkby was badly injured in a fall. In true “Sheila Fashion” she insisted on being with her team on the day and we all wish her a very speedy recovery.
The Longridge Band, we are told, took part this year for the 40th year! They already have June 2nd 2018 in their diaries.
Festival Queen Niamh made history in succeeding her sister Roisin, who has now joined her retinue in a reversal of roles. They both look forward to representing Goosnargh & Whittingham throughout the coming year. Both began their busy schedule of duties at the Founders Day Celebrations at Bushell House where Niamh was presented with a memento of her reign.
Finally special mention must be made of our MC Mike Barnes who is taking a “Gap Year” beginning very soon. Mike will be sharing his teaching and IT skills with communities in Malawi. Chairman David Butters thanked him for setting just the right atmosphere in the arena for no less than 18 years.