Queens hope to make festival one to remember...

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IT promises to be the festival of all festivals, including a line-up of queens from years gone by.

All the stops are out to make this year’s Goosnargh and Whittingham Whitsuntide “Guild” Festival one to remember.

At least 55 invitations have been sent out to former queens, who will be travelling from near and far for the occasion.

Also, besides being named in honour of Preston Guild and coinciding with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, there will be a momentous moment on festival day when the official twinning ceremony is carried out with the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, of Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Five dignitaries representing the Canadian festival and Mayor of Kentville will be present for the occasion – Saturday, June 2 – and organisers have been hard at work preparing for this, as well as working towards a bumper festival parade and other activities.

Some of the former queens returning to the festival, to date (by maiden name) include Beryl Watkinson (1938), Magdalen Kitching (1951), Mary Smithies (1958) and Gillian Gosling (1965) through to Candice Slicer (1987), plus Amy Butters and Alison Ewart who were queen and retiring queen respectively in l992, during the last Preston Guild year, 20 years ago.

Beryl has recently returned to Britain after a trip to Australia; the occasion will be a particularly poignant one for Magdalen as her mother Maisie, who died last year at the age of 100, was a member of the festival committee for 60 years; Mary (wife of former BBC chief political correspondent John Sergeant) will be travelling up from Ealing; Gillian will be travelling from Sutton-on-Trent and Candice from Carlisle. They, together with queens from latter and more recent years, will be invited to travel on a float, being organised by former festival queen, Julie Bennett.

Another former festival queen, Kate Blundell, who still lives in Goosnargh, will be organising a float on which she and her three children will be riding.

Two more former queens joining in the day will be mother and daughter, Bernadette Ibison and Christina Cowell who also live in the locality and whose father and grandfather, Tom Ibison is honorary festival president.

Residents and businesses throughout the villages of Goosnargh and Whittingham – not just on the festival route – are being encouraged to decorate their properties and these will be judged by the Canadian delegates; Tony Stephenson, Helena and Garry McCay and Mr and Mrs Tony Bentley.

Thanks to the generosity of Preston North Rotary Club, all festival participants will be presented with a commemorative badge featuring the new look festival logo.

Finally, if there are any former festival queens out there who have not been invited, then get in touch with the Butters on 01772 865840.