Brian Cameron has been the Chair of Molesey Carnival for 15 years and this year will mark his last in the role. However, his passion for the much-loved Molesey institution remains as strong as ever, as he shares with The Court Circular…
Words | Lucy Donoughue
Good news! The Molesey Carnival will return this year on Saturday 11 June. After a two-year Covid-enforced hiatus, this fabulous community event will come back as strong as ever – parade, stalls, entertainment, fun for all the family – the whole shebang!
As long-standing Chair of the Carnival Committee, Brian Cameron shares that the event is part of Molesey’s rich history and has taken place in different forms over the years.
“We believe the carnival first took place at the turn of the twentieth century at the Hurst Park Races and then at Molesey Hospital,” he explains. “These events were called ‘pound days’ and they were organised to raise money for the hospital itself. Those events evolved into a float parade, which we believe fizzled out, probably in the early 1960s.”
It’s a day for all generations but it’s especially brilliant for the kids. It’s wonderful to witness their excitement at being involved.
Luckily, community spirit kicked in and a group of Molesey residents decided to revive the carnival for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
“Clive Kirk, Geoff Alexander and Peggy Cutler got together to make it happen, and that went so well that they decided to do it again the following year and it just evolved from that.” Brian says.
The carnival has continued in a similar format ever since, with the exception of the past two years due to Covid, and it’s a fun opportunity for local charities, community groups and businesses to raise their profile. “The feeling of the carnival is beautifully small and local,” Brian smiles. “We try and keep ‘big business’ out of it.”
The carnival plays a huge role in Brian’s personal history and he’s been attending the annual event since he was at school, “My teacher, Russell Ayling, was one of the original carnival announcers.” he shares. “He was such a character!”
His commitment to the local event is unshakeable. “I think I’ve been to every carnival that’s taken place, apart from perhaps one, when I was away at college in Nottingham.” Brian notes. “I used to help out on a stall with my mum and dad, who were raising money for Molesey Scouts.”
Things have changed, he admits, over the years, although the community spirit remains the same. “It’s fair to say there’s a lot more admin involved now, paperwork and planning,” he explains. “We have to have insurances that we never had to have before and that takes up a lot of our time.”
There’s also the task of fundraising to make the day possible. “Stallholders and carnival participants pay a small fee to be involved, we have some sponsorship, and we sell a programme for the event to bring in a bit of income too,” Brian says. Molesey Football Club organise a benefit football game and raffle for us and businesses like Parkhurst and Armadillo kindly support with van use and storage facilities, and 4-Print help us out with reduced costs too. We’re just hoping that people will come forward to help out this year again.”
Beyond the budget and logistics, Brain insists that there’s so much joy and fun to be had by being involved with Molesey’s Carnival. As the carnival Chair since 2007 and a long-time attendee, he has a lot of wonderful memories.
“I love it when I see friends from school days at the carnival,” he says. “And now, I see their children and their grandchildren there too! That’s what’s great about it, it’s a day for all generations but it’s especially
brilliant for the kids. It’s wonderful to witness their excitement at being involved.”
Brian shares that watching the event unfold can be quite emotional, as all of the immense community support, spirit and effort comes together. What, I ask, are his favourite moments on the day?
“I quite enjoy opening the field up on carnival day in the morning,” he muses. “There’s something quite special about that, there’s the dew on the grass and it’s a quiet field and you can just imagine what’s to come…”
“BUT!” he adds quickly, “to actually climb in the bath at the end of the day is bliss! We walk fifteen to twenty miles on a carnival day, and that’s aside from carrying and lifting things, and putting up and taking down gazebos, bunting and banners.
“It’s physically demanding work and we do have a small committee, so it would be great to get some more assistance this year. It would be wonderful to have new people come along, volunteer and join the carnival and keep this amazing community tradition going strong.”
Molesey Carnival are looking for a volunteer to help with bookkeeping and another to marshal the parade (preferably with background experience in traffic, risk and people management).
If you can help, or offer support by way of sponsorship, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Molesey Carnival will take place on 11 June. For more information visit www.moleseycarnival.org