Despite the wet conditions over the weekend of June 11th and 12th hundreds of people visited Astwood Bank Open Gardens and helped raise well over one thousand pounds that will be distributed amongst local charities and organisations.
Carnival Queen Jess Davies
As one of many events arranged by the Astwood Bank Carnival group the event was also attended by members of the recently appointed Carnival royalty. Carnival Queen Jess Davies seen here smelling the roses said how wonderful all of the gardens looked and how she could see all of the effort the gardeners had put in to putting on such a magnificent show.
Carnival princesses Anna Smith and Sophie Lightfoot were also out and about visiting many of the gardens but also admiring some of the displays installed by the Astwood Bank in Bloom group.
Carnival Princess Anna Smith
Carnival Princess Sophie Lightfoot
Mayor Joe Baker
The event was also supported by Mayor Joe Baker and Councillor Jayne Potts.
Lesley Jones, who organised the event, was delighted with the amount of money raised despite the disappointing weather, and how far people came to see the gardens, noting that we had visitors from north Birmingham, Solihull, and Kidderminster as well as many local residents discovering many new gardens and areas of our village that they don’t normally see. Many of our gardeners commented that although it had needed some extra effort to get their gardens ready they were delighted to not only have visitors to appreciate their efforts, but they had done their bit in raising much needed funds for the local community.
Astwood Bank partied all weekend long with a variety of activities taking place from the Friday to the Sunday. Friday night saw all ages ranging from youngsters through to more mature residents dance along to the tunes of the Life of Riley band at this year’s Barn dance. This is now the third year running this event has taken place and it’s become a firm fixture in the events calendar for the Carnival team. As well as the band, local magician Sam Wilson entertained the guests with food being provided by local Indian restaurant Little India.
Friday Night: Barn Dance
Saturday: Carnival Procession and Field
After Friday night the Carnival team were up early the next day busy making final arrangements for the main event of the weekend the procession and Carnival. Floats and a variety of vehicles were assembled ready to leave SE Davis in Edgioake Lane at noon. They then made their way along the streets of Astwood Bank, bedecked in bunting, to the Astwood Bank Primary School where walking floats and marching bands joined the procession. With a theme this year of ‘Music through the decades’, voting had been taking place earlier in the day. Both the vehicle floats and walking groups had been judged by a variety of VIPs including our MP Rachel Maclean and the deputy Mayor Gareth Prosser. The vehicle float voted as best was the entry from Astwood Bank Girlguiding with a Beach Boys theme, and the best walking group entry was from Astwood Bank Primary School, with a theme of Music Icons. In what was a very close decision the overall ‘Best in Show’ award was given to the Astwood Bank Girlguiding entry.
The procession returned to the carnival field where the Carnival Royalty were crowned for this year and the float winners were presented and congratulated in the arena. With near perfect conditions the crowds were entertained all afternoon through a wide ranging list of performances in the arena. The entertainment started with the Lucy Jane school of dancing and was followed by a series of bouts put on by the Full Force Wrestling team. The bouts were interspersed by two performances from the Redditch Music School, a demonstration from KK Fencing from Studley, a cheque presentation for £600 raised at the recent Bollywood Night at the Little India Restaurant, and an amazing flypast by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
During the Carnival Little India presented a cheque in the main arena for an amazing £600 that was raised by running the Bollywood Night this year. A massive thank you to all of the Little India team.
Sunday: Carnival Finale
Sunday saw a new event for the carnival weekend with the Why Not Inn putting on a brilliant Carnival Finale event all afternoon. With bands playing, a children’s entertainer performing, free face painting and sunshine, it was a perfect way to finish off this year’s Carnival weekend. The icing on the cake was that the Why Not team had organised a raffle and raised an incredible £877 that has been donated to the Carnival committee for distribution later in the year.
Ashley Hewitt, Chairperson for the Astwood Bank Community Group, who organise both the Carnival and other events throughout the year, commented: “It has been many months of planning in pulling this together for many people in Astwood Bank. Whether you are a business who supported us, a group who have designed and created your floats, the volunteers who helped serve drinks and food on the day, or just came out and supported the events over the weekend, we want to thank you all for contributing towards what is a truly an amazing community event. We now start planning the 2020 event, but we do need some more volunteers to make this happen again next year. So no matter how little time you can give back to your community please do contact us and we’ll find a role for you that you will love. Just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.”