SPALDING Flower Parade will go ahead this year, just as it has done for 53 years previously, no matter what calamaties or problems arise before 2pm on Saturday, May 5.
It will go ahead largely because a team of people will do their best to make sure it does, just as they have been doing for the past however many years.
They go largely unrecognised and unrewarded – apart from a bacon bap on the morning after parade day, I’m told – but the Operations Committee and the tractor drivers are a crucial part of the colourful spectacle that is Spalding Flower Parade.
For instance, Clive Gotobed has driven the Spalding Flower Queen’s float in the parade “from man and boy”, according to Adrian Jansen, the parade controller. Clive has that privilege again this year when Flower Queen Amy Harrison makes her appearance in the 54th parade, on the theme of Food, Glorious Food.
Clive, who farms at Gosberton Risegate, says: “I have been driving in the parade for 43 years. I was in the parade in 1961 when I was 11 and have had something to do with it ever since, putting straw on the floats or decorating them with tulip heads. It’s a good day out and you meet a lot of people. You see people in the same place each year.”
Michael Le Feuvre of West Pinchbeck has been involved in the parade since 1967 when he was at the Gleed Boys’ School.
“I have been a driver but I have done all sorts,” says Michael. “Years ago we had a village float and I was involved with that. We got involved as kids and it’s just carried on. You get a lot of satisfaction from it because you have done it so long.”
Similarly, other unassuming, hard-working people from the area will again be taking on a role they have done many times previously, either to make sure the parade of floats gets round the route safely and without big gaps or to drive tractors pulling the parade floats.
Parade manager Kathleen Codd admits: “Quite frankly, without the operations team and the volunteer drivers there wouldn’t be a parade. It’s as simple as that. Invaluable is the word I would use.”
Their work has already begun, with the floats – still looking eerie in their naked state – moved to the sheds where they will be decorated with tulip heads in the days and hours leading up to the big day. One storage location is Robin Chappell’s farm in Spalding – Robin too has helped the parade organisers for over 30 years, providing tulip heads for many years. On parade day morning the floats will be moved again, to Springfields, where they depart from the arena at 2pm.
The operations team and the drivers have met with Adrian and Kathleen, when drivers were allocated to floats and trailers, and farmer and parade stalwart Trev Tyrrell tasked with finding another driver – most likely from the ranks of Spalding and District Young Farmers, who are collecting for charity on parade day.
All that remains now is for the floats to be transformed by colourful tulip heads and for the sun to put his hat on for May 5 and Spalding will once again treat thousands of spectators to one of the greatest free shows in the country.
n The official guide to Spalding Flower Parade is on sale now at our offices in The Crescent, priced £2.