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Carnival faces end after 50-year run
Buy this photo » Organisers Theresa Jordan and Rose Sutton. Picture: OX56738 Marc West
A CARNIVAL which has been running for more than half a century is on the verge of collapse because of a volunteer shortage.
Wallingford Carnival, which attracts about 5,000 people every year, is in danger of folding because of a lack of organisers.
In the past, the organising committee had about a dozen members, but now only Theresa Jordan and Rose Sutton are left.
Ms Jordan and Mrs Sutton say they urgently need help to organise this year’s event, which is due to take place on Saturday, June 15.
Ms Jordan, who lives in the town and is a supply teacher at Wallingford School, said: “The carnival has always been very popular but we do need more volunteers to keep the event going.
“It is not an understatement to say that if we do not succeed in getting new membership the event will collapse.
“I have been on the organising committee for about 13 years and we are now in the position where there are only two people left on the committee, and that is simply not enough.
“We don’t want the event to fold, but that’s a possibility because it’s too much for the two of us on our own and we need the expertise of others to organise the road closures, the marshalls, and arrange the carnival procession.
“There is too much work for the two of us. We need more manpower.”
Several carnival committee members have retired, including Lindon Shepherd, who worked for the committee for 31 years.
Ms Jordan said this year, organisers intended to use The Kinecroft for more carnival events, with the procession starting and finishing on the open space near the town centre.
After a three-decade gap, organisers revived the tradition of having a carnival queen last year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Casie Marshall, 18, from Wallingford, was chosen by the organisers to be the first carnival queen since 1984.
The carnival raises money for a chosen charity and last year visitors donated £1,200 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Mrs Sutton, 57, from Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, said: “The carnival costs about £8,000 a year to stage and we rely on sponsorship from local businesses and selling stall spaces to cover our costs.
“The town is heaving on the day itself and there must be about 5,000 people attending.
“If we don’t get any help we might have to cancel and we don’t want to do that because it’s one of Wallingford’s great traditions.
“It’s a fantastic day – especially for the children – I remember feeling elated when I was a child in the carnival.”
Town and county councillor Lynda Atkins said: “We lost the raft race a few years back, so we don’t want to lose another key event.
“The carnival is a good opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the town.”
lIf you can help the committee, telephone Ms Jordan on 01491 836240 or email roytheresa firstname.lastname@example.org