Volunteer shortages have put Great Dunmow carnival procession at risk of cancellation

Keith Wheatcroft, chairman of the Procession Committee

Keith Wheatcroft, chairman of the Procession Committee - Credit: Archant

A desperate plea to save the carnival procession has been made to the people of Dunmow this week, which is at serious risk of collapsing without any volunteers to organise it.

Dunmow carnival queen and princesses

Dunmow carnival queen and princesses - Credit: Archant

Without an influx of willing volunteers, double the number currently helping, there is an imminent danger that there will be no procession in the summer.

The Procession Committee is now only five people strong, but around ten people are needed for it to function properly.

Although this committee is linked to the carnival, it is a separate entity - so there would still be the famous fair, but without any floats to go around the town.

Since it was set up in 1952 there has been a carnival procession every year – it would break a nearly 70 year old tradition.

Cadets at the Dunmow Carnival

Cadets at the Dunmow Carnival - Credit: Archant

This committee does not just focus on the Dunmow procession, but the princesses and queen chosen also make an appearance at carnivals around the county, including Braintree, Brightlingsea, Witham, Coggeshall, Maldon, Clacton and Burnham-on-Sea.

The first carnival is on June 10, Dunmow’s is on September 16, and the last is later still - therefore it is more than a one-event job, and the committee meet once a week.

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Keith Wheatcroft, who has been chair of the committee for around ten years, said he believes the procession is valued by the town.

He said: “Apathy is involved – it’s not that people don’t like it, people do like it, but no-one is prepared to do anything about it, and we’re desperately needing new members on our procession committee.

“I would be shattered if it stopped, devastated, but if that’s what is going to happen then that’s what’s going to happen, because we need the committee –the procession won’t run on it’s own.”

There has also been a dwindling of young girls who would like to be the queen or one of her princesses in the procession, he said, with only around seven applicants last year compared to around twenty in the past.

He encourages any girls between nine and 14 who would like to be princesses, or any over 14 who might like to be queens, to take part in the selection evening at 7pm on March 24 in the Dourdan Pavillion. The theme is Dunmow Through the Ages.

For more information, contact Keith on 01371 875300, or email wheaters@talktalk.net