Skegness Carnival stalwarts stand down

Brian and Julie Chapman.
Brian and Julie Chapman.

Two long serving stalwarts of the Skegness Carnival are standing down after more than 20 years devoted to the town.

Brian and Julie Chapman were credited for rescuing the carnival from closure when the town council curtailed its involvement and helped grow it from a one off parade to the extensive calendar of events it is today.

But now, after two decades of service, the dedicated couple are finally taking some time for themselves.

“It feels strange,” said Julie.

“It’s been our life for so long.”

Looking back on their fondest carnival moments, Brian says the Red Arrows fly-past and the RAF Falcons display were both highlights of his time in charge.

“The whole of Skegness came to a stand still,” he said.

“There wasn’t a car in the road - everyone was looking at the skies.”

Throughout their years at the helm, Skegness Carnival has grown to incorporate a week long programme of free, family orientated attractions.

Along with the many gala days and fundraisers throughout the year which make the summer events possible, the carnival has been praised for bringing thousands of visitors to the town.

Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hoteliers Association’s chairman Nigel Tett says his guests regularly base their stays on when the carnival is taking place.

“I think they’ve contributed greatly to one of the main tourist milestones of the season,” he said.

Brian and Julie say that coach companies and holidaymakers contact them from Boxing Day onwards asking about the next year’s dates so they can book their visits accordingly.

“I think the town would be a lot quieter without the carnival,” said Brian.

Though they are taking a step back from their duties, the couple say they will always be available, whenever the committee needs their advice.

“We’ve always looked at the committee as being like one big family,” said Julie.

Committee chairman Kris Bell has expressed his ‘utmost respect and admiration’ for his predecessors and thanked them for all their tireless support.

“Brian and Julie have been an absolute rock, not just for the carnival but for the Skegness community,” he said.

“I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for them both.

“Brian is an absolute inspiration for me - I took over the chair and to be honest if I could do have as good a job as he has done I think I’ll be doing OK.”

Although the events have become more costly and difficult to arrange due to the increased rules and regulations organisers are made to comply with, Brian believes there will always be a future for the carnival so long as the people of Skegness show their support.

“Whenever people criticise the carnival I always say it’s only as good as the people that take part,” he said.

The couple say they are looking forward to having more time to pursue their hobbies, which include steam fairs, vintage rail events and painting.