Crowds flock to Ashover Gala

WARNINGS of rain showers on Monday could not dampen the May Day carnival spirit in Ashover and crowds flocked into the village for what is now widely recognised as the best traditional celebration in the region.

“The forecast certainly wasn’t good and we had an alternative programme lined up just in case we couldn’t operate outside. Fortunately, the drizzle held off until most events had taken place and many people who stayed told us how much they enjoyed the day,” said Rosemary Early, who heads the organising team.

Ashover May Day Gala 2012 - Mia and Ella Parsons ages 8 and 3

Ashover May Day Gala 2012 - Mia and Ella Parsons ages 8 and 3

Storm clouds threatened as the Rector of Ashover, the Revd. Ralph Lawrence, welcomed locals and visitors and introduced parish personality Bob Dronfield who performed the official opening ceremony.

Bob also crowned the May King, Laurie Kelly, and May Queen, Pheobe Hanauer, who, with their attendants, had earlier led a parade through the village to the music of Ashover band. But the morning’s non-stop programme of street entertainment wasn’t affected even when it began to drizzle for short spells.

Morris, garland and maypole dancers, mummers, musicians, hedgehog rollers, an escapologist, clown, barrel organ player and punch and judy man complemented a programme of races, a family fun run, tug-of war and welly-wanging competitions while stall-holders lining the main street raised both cash and awareness of various charities and deserving causes.

The church-driven carnival celebration began on Sunday with a Songs of Praise service led by the Rector which included music by Ashover band and Ashover Celebration Choir, readings by Ann Conroy, Chris Lumsden and Susan Lawrence, and prayers by Claire Bonsall. During the service, members of the congregation were invited to write a short prayer and post it on a special prayer board and the members of the May Day royal retinue sang their May-time song.

The Rector praised the generous giving of the community to the church and its commitment to ‘work and play together, with God, for people’.

“Charity, which includes giving, lies at the heart of our May Day celebrations and provides an opportunity for charities to help fund local, regional, national and international causes which highlight the plight of others and inspire us, in the words of Saint Paul, to be cheerful givers,” he said.

Rosemary and her team have publicly thanked the many volunteers, companies and local authorities who make it possible to stage the annual carnival. “We are very lucky in that so many people continue to support us in so many ways,” she said.

l To see a slideshow of pictures from the march, keep checking our website.