The carnival is sadly over for one of Bridgwater’s long standing carnival clubs.
Dedicated members of YMCA Carnival Club have taken the heart-breaking decision to disband the club, after repeated attempts to recruit new members and volunteers had failed to boost club membership.
Formed in 1968, the club have had a prominent presence in the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival concerts and procession, and have been an instrumental member of Bridgwater Gangs and Features for over 50 years.
Based at the town’s YMCA headquarters in Friarn Avenue and socially at The Duke, the club’s proudest moment was in 1979 when its stage show A Day at the Grand Hotel took first place at the carnival concerts.
Founding member and Club President, Arthur Leigh, said: “Like many clubs, over the years there have lean years on occasions due to a lack of members, but through these difficult periods the club has always been fortunate to have a group of stalwart members and helpers to keep it going.”
However, in the past few months it has become increasingly apparent that the end for the club was near. “We tried absolutely everything we could to increase our club numbers and to get more people involved,” said Arthur, who first started the club with a group of young people who used to spend their time at the original YMCA coffee bar.
“We then decided to hold a special meeting with the few club members we have and our life members, and we came to the conclusion winding down the club was the least desired but most sensible option, as none of us are getting any younger.
“It is a very sad and emotional time for us all, and even though the club will no longer exist, we have the life-long friendships and special memories to hold onto.”
The club has been linked to the town’s YMCA headquarters ever since it was formed. Another highlight in the club’s long history was in 2011, when a group of club members wearing carnival costumes attended the official opening of the new Bridgwater YMCA building, and presented a book on the history of Bridgwater Carnival to, His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent.
Mike Crocker, President of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, added: “I have some very fond memories of YMCA CC and their members, and it’s so sad to hear they can no longer continue.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the club for everything they have done for Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival over the past 55 years, and I sincerely hope the remaining members of the club stay involved with carnival in some capacity.”