Charity group prepare for Ilkeston carnival parade

The Lions Carnival Queen leads the parade through the town in 2016.
The Lions Carnival Queen leads the parade through the town in 2016.

The streets of Ilkeston will be a riot of colour this weekend, as the Lions Club’s annual carnival makes its way through town to start a day of family fun.

The event, which has been part of local life for 27 years, is being held on Saturday, June 10, with the traditional parade of floats leaving Belfield Street at 12.30pm and travelling up Bath Street, through the Market Place and down to the Rutland Recreation Ground.

Carnival chairman Sue Birch said: “We’ve been hard at work getting everything ready since January, but the biggest challenge is always the day itself.

“All we can hope is that we haven’t forgotten anything, the weather is good and that people come out to support us and enjoy themselves as much as ever.”

Riding the creatively decorated floats this year will be Scouts and Guides from across the district, Stanton Football Club and other community groups.

Sue said: “West Transport loan us the lorries for free, and each group chooses their own theme.

“We don’t know what they’re going to do until they appear, so it’s always a great surprise.”

The parade will have a different feel this time, as it will be the first in many years not to feature a marching band.

Sue explained: “We had the Militaires booked as usual, but they called us back in March to announce they were disbanding due to a lack of members.

“We tried to get another band, but now instead we’ll have Erewash Sound leading the parade, providing some live DJ-ing from their car.”

The event promises to be a fantastic family day out as onlookers watch the parade and then enjoy the entertainment at the carnival showground.

The site will be open from 12noon and features lots of trade and charity stalls, things to do and a wide range of entertainment in the arena including dog and baby shows.

Sue said: “We’ve got a funfair, food stalls and performances throughout the afternoon—the Flying Dakos gymnastics display team, the Dance Divaz, and the Ilkeston Sparkles cheerleaders, to name a few.

“We’re also looking for tug of war teams, groups of five who could win a cash prize of £50.”

The tug rope has been loaned by The Newdigate in West Hallam, and other businesses will be supporting the event too such as Stacey’s bakery and Interhire.

This year’s event is especially significant to Sue, as it coincides with her term as president of the Ilkeston Lions.

She has been a member of the club ever since in first allowed women to join, and Sue said: “Each year, the president gets to decide on the charities we support, and I’ve chose two that are particularly close to my heart.

“My husband and I both have type two diabetes, so we’ll be raising money for Diabetes UK. As well as that, my mother lived with Alzheimer’s, so I’ve chosen Alzheimer’s Society which funds research and support services.”

The club is part of an international network which is, by some measures, the biggest charity organisation in the world.

As well as the carnival, the Lions work year-round to raise money for everything from local families in need of support to disaster relief efforts all over the planet.

The Lions are celebrating its centenary in 2017, and Sue is lining up a special dinner event for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

There is much to celebrate in its past, but the future looks more uncertain.

Sue said: “We’re getting to be an old group. It feels like not many people are interested in volunteer work, and we don’t have many new members coming through.

“If we can’t grow again, the club will eventually close and the carnival will be no more.”

For anyone who wants to pitch in, Saturday morning would be a good time to start.