Turning the dream into reality
The market town of Spalding was once famous across the globe for it's annual Tulip Parade. Each year since the 1950's the parade was the annual highlight and it drew crowds from all over the UK and beyond. It was a celebration of the tulip industry and a time for people to show off. Each year a Flower Queen was elected and she would lead the parade through the town, followed by huge floats, decorated with tulip heads
Sadly, as the tulip industry fell into decline, so did the parade. It was also a case of funding drying up and the final parade was held in 2013, much to the dismay of local people. It was an absolute loss for the town
Each year, a theme was chosen and most of the major companies in the area constructed a float. It ended up a competition to see who could build the biggest and the best
Some of the floats were 50 feet long
Ten years later
In June 2022, during the Jubilee weekend, I had this crazy idea - to reinstate the annual parade. There seemed to be so much community spirit but nowhere to direct the energy. It started with a simple post on social media but within minutes, the post went viral and the enquiries and messages of encouragement began to pour in, so I thought I'd better have a go
Within a week, I had amassed over 100 volunteers and offers of help and sponsorship offers started to come in from local businesses
My plans were put down on paper, I started the website and our Just Giving page .... donations started to come in and within a week we'd raised over £2,000
The project started to snowball
The biggest question I get asked is 'Why?' and the answer is simple
I don't want thanks or praise and certainly don't expect any financial gain. All I want is my local town to regain it's pride. We all complain about the lack of things to do, but how many actually do something about it? Well, just a few weeks in and I can tell you, the people of Spalding need this and they certainly want it. Everybody is stepping up to help in some way. Whether it be a £2 donation, an offer of help or major sponsorship, it doesn't matter - it's the fact that they have done something to contribute. It shows they care
'I don't want to turn the clock back, that would be impossible. But I do want an event that Spalding can be proud of.'
The 2023 parade was the first one in ten years, quite a poignant moment in our local history and the perfect time to show just what we can do if we try. It was an absolutely incredible day and it will be a day to remember
The parade had a whole new look to it but included a few original features that people will remember from years gone by
'I think it's nice to have a taste of nostalgia'
Within seven weeks into the project and we raised over £16,000, had some major sponsors, lots of smaller sponsors and hundreds of volunteers. We featured in every newspaper, on all the radio stations and on TV, in fact we caused quite a stir. This just proves how important this event is for our town and our community
'I dedicated a whole 12 months to this project and I share in the excitement of the people of Spalding'
"Doing it with passion"
Those that know me will understand that when I say I'm going to do something, I get on and do it and I do it with passion. I have never done just half a job, ever. I consider myself a good organiser and have a great imagination but I can't do it alone. The people of Spalding are right behind me giving me every possible ounce of support
I hear all the time, people complaining about our local council but I have to be honest and say that I totally understand that they could not justify spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers money on the annual parade. It had to stop. In their defence, the South Holland Council have supported me 100%. Maybe not financially but certainly making the hurdles that bit easier to jump They understand the importance of the parade and what it means to the people of Spalding
If you want an example of community spirit in Spalding, take a look at the knitters. I had an idea to decorate a float with knitted flowers and after a post on social media, the needles were out. Now we have ladies all over town knitting like mad. 'It almost reminds me of war time when people got together as a community and got things done, for the benefit of each other'
The history behind the event
The origins of the Spalding Flower Parade can be traced back as far as the 1920s. In 1935, the Jubilee of King George V coincided with the time tulips were in flower so it was a particularly important year. By 1950, Tulip Week had morphed into Tulip Time and coached visited the town, running a 25 mile tour round local villages, stopping at all the fields of tulips.
In 1959, the first Spalding Tulip Parade took place
Updates and progress
September 27th 2022
Fund raising has gone incredibly well with just over £34,000 raised in sponsorship and donations. Volunteers are pouring in and all plans are in place. The parade route is now in front of Highways to be approved. Insurance is in place and event licencing is under application.
The parade is now full, as it the craft and charity fair. We are now taking names on a reserve list.
I am totally blown away by the support that I have received and the interest from all over the UK - we have 9 coaches booked in from as far away as Devon! Local hotels are filling up and the excitement is building
October 1st 2022
We recently undertook a test run of the parade route using a full size articulated lorry and all went well. We identified areas that require extra protection for the public. Fund raising is now close to £40,000 so we are well on track. The parade is now fully boked as is the craft fair.
We hit our first major problem - the announcement of the Coronation on our parade day. This placed in an awkward position as I want the maximum attendance at our parade. It was very quickly decided that we should move our event to the 13th May. We can still get real tulips and the majority of parade participants can still make the new date. With grit and determination, we have proved that nothing can stand in our way - this really will be an event to remember!
By the end of October we have reached an impressive £40,000 in fund raising
As we start the new year, the fund raising continues and the parade line up is now full. The craft fair is fully booked and coach bookings are pouring in daily. We have so far raised over £49,000 of our £50,000 target and can guarantee within the next few weeks we will smash the total. We've been on every TV channel and featured in dozens of nationwide magazines. We are literally making history.
Money might be tight for people but that hasn't stopped the local community stepping up to make this happen. The generosity just amazes me on a daily basis
We are just over 40 days away from the event and we have now raised over £70,000. The generosity continues on a daily basis. I have no doubt at all that this will be the biggest event in Spalding for many decades. The parade will be awesome and there will be so much for families to enjoy. I have to admit, I'm getting tired now... exhausted actually. But I will fight on and make sure this is an event to remember
We are now just 14 days away and things are all in place. We've raised over £74,000 which is absolutely incredible. We're now almost at the stage of picking the fresh tulips and this is where the real hard work starts
Well, what can we say? The 2023 Spalding Flower Parade was a huge success. It's likely to be the biggest ever in Spalding's history. Huge crowds came and had a great time. The weather held off although a little cool. We certainly put Spalding back on the map and now we are busy putting together the 2024 parade
Well, we are now well underway with the 2024 Flower Parade and it's bigger and better than last year. The parade line up is full and through our fund raising, we have raised almost £40,000 in just 5 months !