7th Aug, 2020

Shirley Lions pledges Carnival Day will be back next year - and appeals for funds

Editorial Correspondent 2nd Jul, 2020 Updated: 2nd Jul, 2020

SHIRLEY Lions Carnival Day will be back next year and continue as as important community fundraiser, organisers have pledged.

It comes as the weekend approaches when it would have taken place this year.

Shirley Lions has also appealed for donations and has been sharing the carnival’s history to remind people of its pivotal place in the life of Shirley people.

Organisers said: “Saturday 11th July should have been Shirley Lions Carnival Day but sadly along with many other events it has been cancelled due the coronavirus.

“Shirley Carnival has been a key part of the community calendar since the 1940s, but was preceded from the early 1900s by various parades and processions which by the 1930s developed into the Shirley Parish Fete.

“By 1934 this had grown into a huge local event held over a whole week, organised under the auspices of St James Church.

“On the day there would be a large parade with marching bands, floats and a Carnival King and Queen who would descend on the grounds of the Vicarage, where Bishopton Close now stands, sometimes finishing with a firework display. People came from as far as Birmingham to enjoy the fun.

“Even the war did not completely stop it as one was held in 1940 although attendance was down.

“After the war it was re-established by the newly formed Shirley Community Association and was very successful to the extent that in one year, according to newspaper reports at the time, the carnival was attended by 30,000 people and the procession was one mile long.

“Sadly those times did not last and due to dwindling support the last one was held in 1959.

“Then in 1979 Shirley Lions revived it as The Shirley Lions Carnival and until this year it has taken place every year.

“In its early years as Shirley Lions Carnival there were processions with local organisations, schools etc. entering floats. The procession formed up at the former TA site on Haslucks Green Road and then travelled via Hurdis Road and Bills Lane along the Stratford Road and into the park.

“In those days there was a Carnival Queen Ball held earlier in the Saracens Head’s function room where the winner was selected ready for the procession on carnival day. Later on it became a Carnival Princess competition.

“Unfortunately towards 2000 support for carnival floats dwindled, and with the introduction of speed humps and increasing traffic on the Stratford Road itself, the procession had to be discontinued.

“But carnival itself continues with about 4,000 people every year enjoying an afternoon of entertainment in Shirley Park with arena acts, bands, funfair and 70 or so side stalls for games, tombolas and sales of numerous goodies to help raise funds for local charities.

“Shirley Lions Carnival will be back!  Save the date for next year Saturday 10th July 2021 with the main attraction – Dangerous Steve – with a selection of non-stop, thrill-a-minute fire and chainsaw juggling, giant unicycle, ladder balancing and blindfold motorcycle riding in a hilarious and dynamic act full of sensational stunts. A real crowd-pleaser!

“Though the generosity of carnival goers about £4,000 is usually raised for the Lions’ charitable work in the Shirley Community.”

Lion’s President Jackie Culliford says: “This year’s cancellation will make a big hole in our funds, and we will be unable to support our community as much as we do usually, especially at this difficult time.

“If you are able to and would like to make a donation to Shirley Lions so that we can continue our charitable work until normal fundraising opportunities resume then please go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/shirleycarnival See you next year’s at carnival.”

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