Flying the flag high

The St George's Day parade through Lytham. David Haythornthwaite leads the parade.

The St George's Day parade through Lytham. David Haythornthwaite leads the parade.

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DESPITE a soggy start for the St George’s Day Festival parade through Lytham yesterday, the afternoon sunshine brightened up the celebrations as thousands of families turned out for the patriotic extravaganza.

The five-day festival, which is in its fourth year, culminated with the flag raising on Lytham Green followed by a fantastic family fun day.

St Georges day parade through Lytham.

St Georges day parade through Lytham.

Despite clinging on to their umbrellas, determined youngsters proudly waved their St George’s flags as they paraded through town alongside vintage vehicles and local bands.

Ansdell resident Lauren Stephenson, who runs ‘issypink’ face-painting and jewellery parties, dressed a group of girls up in beautiful English tea party outfits especially for the parade.

She said: “We wanted to join in the parade because it’s local and it’s about building interest in the area.

“There weren’t as many people watching the parade as last year because of the weather unfortunately but the girls have had a really good day and the activities on the green are a nice thing for them to do.”

St Georges day parade through Lytham.

St Georges day parade through Lytham.

Longridge Band dried off in time to perform in the market square where Rita Sharples and Dave Kirby, from Dark Knights Theatre, were attracting plenty of attention as they re-enacted the tale of St George and the dragon.

She said: “We won second prize in the fancy dress competition, we’re really pleased. It’s a great event.”

As the sun broke through the clouds, families flocked to Lytham Green to enjoy the fun fair rides, Army circuit course, craft stalls, bouncy castle and entertainment. Organised by Lytham businessman David Haythornthwaite, the festival aims to make St George’s Day a national holiday, raise money for charity and boost visitor numbers to Lytham and the rest of the Fylde coast.

Money raised by the event is donated to ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity, Donna’s Dream House in Blackpool and Park View 4U, a charity set up by Lytham residents to improve park facilities.

Tracey Whalley, festival committee member, said: “The whole idea of celebrating St George’s Day is fantastic.

“It is the fourth festival and we are building on it every year.”

The festival also featured an evening of boxing, a comedy, a ‘Ladies Day’ lunch and a black tie ball. Philip Aindow, regional director for fundraising for ABF, said: “It’s been really successful. Despite the rain this morning, it’s been brilliant.

“It’s all about achieving the aims of promoting Lytham, getting a St George’s Day holiday and making as much money as possible for charities.”