Save our Lowestoft Carnival parade plea

A last-ditch attempt has been launched to save the Lowestoft Carnival parade.

But organisers have issued an appeal for support – warning it will only go ahead with public backing.

Last month it was reported that the volunteer carnival committee had 'regretfully' called time on the popular street procession because of the rising cost of road closures and traffic management procedures.

It meant the town faced missing out on the annual celebration for a second year running.

However this week the event organisers, the Friends of Lowestoft Hospital, agreed to accept an offer from the Gwen Baker Trust to provide a 'significant' part of the costs of running this year's street parade.

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The gift means the event could now take place after all. But, despite the promise of funding, the organisers say the parade will only go ahead if the people of Lowestoft show 'a strong desire' to support it.

A carnival spokesman said: 'We need to know that businesses, organisations, families and individuals will enter into the carnival spirit by taking part in the parade, hopefully with a decorated float. But we also need lots of extra manpower to work with us to make it happen – and we need to know the public will turn out to watch the parade.'

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The financial lifeline was thrown to this year's parade after John Stannard, a member of the Gwen Baker Trust and a local businessman, read about the cancellation in a newspaper and decided to leap into action.

Mr Stannard is one of four trustees of the Gwen Baker Trust which was set up in honour of the chairman of the Friends of Lowestoft Hospital who died in 2010, having run the parade for more than 40 years.

The trustees decided supporting the carnival parade by offering funds to help meet its costs would be a fitting tribute to her memory. If people back their efforts, it is hoped the parade could happen in September.

Mr Stannard said: 'I approached my fellow trustees and we agreed that Gwen would have wanted us to do whatever we could to keep the carnival alive in the town.

'If that meant using some of her legacy to pay for the expenses that were cited as being one of the obstacles to the event going ahead then we should offer to fund them. This is a Jubilee and Olympic year – not just an ordinary year. I think this gives a special reason why the parade should go ahead.

'Young people especially enjoy taking part, dressing up, letting themselves go and generally having a good time. 'It would be a real shame if the parade could not be saved.'

The crunch decision on whether the parade will go ahead will be made on May 14 at the annual meeting of the Friends of Lowestoft Hospital. Members will reach their decision after hearing how much public support has been offered for the event.

Pat Rayner, chairman of the friends, said: 'If we get strong public support, particularly extra help to organise the parade, then the decision to go ahead with a parade, probably on a Sunday in September, could be made for us.'

Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan supported the call for the people of Lowestoft to rally around the parade.

He said: 'In a year of the Queen's Jubilee and the London Olympics it will be silly not to have this carnival take place in Lowestoft – we need to do it.'

As a result of increasing bureaucracy and costs associated with road closures and marshalling, the parade was shortened in 2010 – taking place on a route that stopped short of the bascule bridge.

Last year it was cancelled and a fete was held instead.

? Anyone keen to show their support for the carnival parade can e-mail or write to Pat Rayner c/o Lowestoft Hospital, Tennyson Road, Lowestoft NR32 1PT.

The annual meeting of the Friends of Lowestoft is at the hospital in Tennyson Road at 7pm on Monday, May 14.

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