So proud to be carnival queens

FANCY dresses, chauffeur-driven cars, personal chaperones, charity visits and a little bit of controversy. We re not talking about the lives of rich and famous celebrities here, but those of Barking and Dagenham Carnival Queens. Helen Tarrant and Donna Ro

FANCY dresses, chauffeur-driven cars, personal chaperones, charity visits and a little bit of controversy.

We're not talking about the lives of rich and famous celebrities here, but those of Barking and Dagenham Carnival Queens.

Helen Tarrant and Donna Rose, who were crowned carnival queens in 1989 and 1994 respectively, have been telling the POST about the exciting, but gruelling year they spent representing the borough.

The two women contacted the POST after reading a story in the paper last month, about a silver tray, which was presented by the newspaper to each new queen, and is engraved with all of their names.


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Helen (nee Campion) had just turned 16 when she was chosen for the coveted civic role.

Speaking about her time as queen, she said: "It was a lot of fun, but you had to be extremely committed.

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"You were expected to give up every Saturday for a whole year to attend different carnivals and charity events.

"But it was worth it. I learned a lot, grew in confidence and met some fantastic people."

Then of course, there were the perks, reveals 36-year-old school nurse Helen, who now lives in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex.

"The council provided me with two special carnival dresses from Debenhams and every Saturday I'd get my own driver and personal chaperone.

"And my mum even organised for a hairdresser to come and style my hair every week."

Donna (nee Gosby) was 18 and studying for her A-levels at All Saints School, Terling Road, Dagenham, when she was crowned Barking and Dagenham Carnival Queen.

"I loved it. The carnivals were great fun and I got a lot out of visiting the charities," she admitted.

"I remember feeling very proud to be an ambassador of the borough."

But the 33-year-old home support teacher, of Manor Square, Dagenham, says her reign unfortunately ended in controversy.

"I became pregnant and because I was a teenager it ended up in the papers and became a bit of a scandal.

"But I was 18 and in a long-term relationship with the man I'm now married to, so I think it was all blown out of proportion really.

"I'm sure if it had happened now, it wouldn't be quite such a big deal."

She says despite what happened, she's still glad she got the chance to be a carnival queen.

We are keen to hear from the other carnival queens, who had their names engraved on the silver tray between 1986 and 1995.

They are Natalie Croxton, Brenda Wood, Lisa Blom, Donna Marston, Tracy Cooney, Samantha Walker and Keeley Kelleher.

If you want to share your memories of being a carnival queen with POST readers, contact our reporter Sara Odeen-Isbister on 0208 477 3893 or email sara.odeen-isbister@archant.co.uk.

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