Our Chairman thanks ‘unseen’ stars of Ilkley Carnival 2023

Our Chairman, Andrew Stacey, has paid tribute to the unseen stars of the event after a huge turnout on bank holiday Monday.

“Wow, that was a Carnival that showcased Ilkley far and wide, securing regional and national coverage in both screen and print. The media coverage captured the quality and creativity of every single participant in our wonderful parade and the crowds that turned out highlighted our community spirit. But there’s a whole world that is happening in parallel behind the scenes from the winter meetings, the sponsorship conversations, the entertainment, programme preparations right through to the herculean efforts across the entire weekend.

“There isn’t the space to highlight each and everyone here but I do want to thank a few in particular. Firstly, while some people do simply enjoy the parade and don’t join us on the showground afterwards, I’d like to thank every single person who did buy a ticket or gave a donation because you have helped to ensure there will be another parade and another carnival. The cost of safely putting on the event is over £26,000 and the parade is a significant proportion of that. Despite the still popular misconception, Ilkley carnival receives no public money and so a large part of that cost is effectively underwritten by our amazing sponsors and I want to thank all of you for that support.

“Our main act, the Knights Of Albion, were exceptional but events did transpire against us over the weekend which nearly left us devoid of this amazing act. Their long journey from Taunton encountered breakdowns which meant they arrived eight hours late but they battled through as any true knight would. Without consultation with or notification to us, the showground grass had been cut on the Friday and horses cannot perform within a week of newly mown grass. On Friday evening we appealed for volunteers to hand rake the showground – and did receive some much appreciated offers – but on Saturday morning one of our main sponsors, Mark Waddington from Aireborough Skip Hire became our own knight in shining armour when he appeared with what was effectively a grass vacuum and proceeded to spend his Saturday clearing the field.

“Speaking of entertainment, those who saw the spectacular Ilkley Gym Club might not be aware that in addition to that performance, the team also helped us set up the showground, went off to Southampton to perform in a competition and then helped us clear up afterwards. The words ‘above and beyond’ spring to mind.

“The weather was kind to us on the actual day but our set-up was marred by two days of rain which made erecting marquees and setting up the site very difficult. To all those helpers who braved that torrential rain on the Sunday, thank you, particularly those from the Ben Rhydding Scout and Guide Group who have more experience than most in such conditions.

“The amount of volunteers required to prepare and operate an event of this nature is immense. The parade itself requires around 60 volunteers, including the 29 who safely close the roads on the parade route. We require some trained specialists in this area and we had people travelling from Crewe and Scarborough to assist us in closing roads. In total we had over 300 volunteers over the weekend who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.

“The final and biggest thank you is to the ‘fabulous ten’ who are the remaining committee members who start planning for this event literally as soon as the last one is over and essentially sacrifice much in their personal lives, often their sanity and sometimes, even their mobility, to ensure the largest annual single day event in Ilkley can take place each year. Thank you to all and yes, the planning has already started and we will be back with an even bigger event on Monday 6 May 2024!”

Andrew Stacey, Ilkley Carnival Chairman

Andrew Stacey