The loving legacy for St Annes’ carnival queens

Kathleen Lydiate, Carnival Queen 1960s

Kathleen Lydiate, Carnival Queen 1960s

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Many a proud young lady has been crowned queen of St Annes Carnival since the tradition began as a fete day 90 years ago.

In the early years, the honour went to a church Sunday School pupil who was named fete day queen and crowned on St Annes Pier.

But in the 1960s, a new committee reformed the selection process, inviting teenagers from St Annes’ youth clubs to enter a beauty/personality style competition.

At the head of this committee was the late Muriel Roberts who died aged 83, last month.

The proprietor of Sunfield Nursery, St Annes Road East, for 38 years, assisted by her sister Kath Cook, 79, she helped thousands of children, progress from babies to toddlers to primary school.

Muriel’s daughter, Julia Dalzell, 61, believes one of the other 1960s St Annes Carnival Committee members was event marshall, the late Jack Parfitt, whose wife, the first female Mayor of St Annes, had a florist’s shop in Garden Street. Well-known former dance, drama and singing school proprietor, Wyn Hodge, now in her 80s, was involved in the selection process.

“Kathleen Lydiate, now Kath Ardern, was 16 when she became the first St Annes Carnival Queen chosen in the new format,” recalls Julia, of St Annes Road East, whose daughter Jenny Louise, is 33.

“The St Annes Carnival Queen’s float was decorated at the nursery by my mum and Auntie Kath.

“In the 1960s, the queens’ long white regal-style gowns were bought from Higginsons in the town.

“But my St Annes Carnival Queen dress in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Year, 1977, was red, white and blue to mark the occasion.

“I was 25 at the time of the Queen’s 25th year celebrations.

“I can remember the smile on my mum’s face on that day.

“She’ll be remembered by people who attended Sunfield, their parents and their children, too.

“Her legacy to the town was the reformed St Annes Carnival Queen tradition.”

Angela Jacques, chairman of the current St Annes Carnival Committee says in 1977 a new committee decided the queen would come from the town’s churches in rotation, to again focus on younger girls.

“Then in 2000, the committee made the decision to identify the queen from the community by invitation and a selection process,” explains Angela.

This year, 10 year-old Zara Harris, who attends Heyhouses School, St Annes, and St Anne’s Parish Church, will be crowned St Annes Carnival Queen on Saturday.