Carnival Queens recall glory days

FLYING eggs, trophies, painful crowns and free dresses – two more readers have told the POST about the highs and lows of being a Barking and Dagenham carnival queen. Lisa Morris (n�e Blom) and Donna Marston contacted the paper after spotting our piece abo

FLYING eggs, trophies, painful crowns and free dresses - two more readers have told the POST about the highs and lows of being a Barking and Dagenham carnival queen.

Lisa Morris (n�e Blom) and Donna Marston contacted the paper after spotting our piece about the silver tray that was presented to the borough's newly crowned carnival queen each year between 1986 and 1994.

We asked the nine former queens, whose names are engraved on the tray, to get in touch and tell us a little bit about their reigning year.

First to contact us was Helen Tarrant (n�e Campion) and Donna Rose (n�e Gosby) who, as reported in the POST last month, recalled rewarding but gruelling weekends filled with charity visits and carnival parades.


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Their memories prompted two more past queens to call our news desk - 40-year-old Lisa and 41-year-old Donna.

Lisa, now a cook at Robert Clack School in Dagenham, was 18 when she was chosen for the coveted civic role in 1988.

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Hectic

The mother-of-two says her year as queen was hectic but fun. "I met so many people and went to so many different places. Every weekend there would be a different event to attend. I really enjoyed it."

However, there was the odd low point: "We were in the middle of a carnival parade once and these people started pelting us with eggs, which was pretty horrible. But our float actually won the trophy that night, so it was OK in the end!"

Lisa says a carnival queen was expected to look the part. "The council would provide you with a couple of dresses to wear at all the events and over the dress you'd be expected to wear your sash."

"I still have that sash, actually. My nieces enjoy wearing it."

Donna, who now lives on the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, was crowned carnival queen in 1990 at the age of 21.

She describes her year as "fantastic".

"The charity work was very rewarding and the carnival parades were great. We only had a little milk float, but we'd get up really early on the day of the parade and decorate it with loads of flowers and teddies. We ended up winning lots of best-dressed float prizes."

Donna says she wore a peach-coloured bridesmaid-style dress for the parades (but wasn't allowed to "show too much flesh") and, of course, the carnival queen crown. The crown was less than comfortable, she admits. "It looked lovely, but was so heavy, it gave me headaches!"

We are still keen to hear from the five remaining carnival queens named on the tray - Natalie Croxon, Brenda Wood, Tracy Cooney, Samantha Walker and Keeley Kelleher. If you are one of them, call Sara on (020) 8477 5893.

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