Senior citizens from Bloxwich and district raise the roof thanks to Bloxwich Carnival (All pix: Stuart Williams)
Dateline: 8 July 2010
Senior citizens from across Bloxwich and district topped the bill at an afternoon of food, fun and fine entertainment today when Bloxwich Carnival hosted them as guests at their annual party at the former Bloxwich Baths.The tradition of an "Old Folks Party" associated with the carnival goes back a long way in the village, with the annual spectacular (this year on 7 August) originally raising funds for local hospitals and ex-servicemen of the Great War following the 1919 peace celebrations together with doing good deeds and raising funds for the "old folk" of Bloxwich.
Cllr Louise Harrison (left) and Catherine Casewell (right) of Bloxwich Carnival Committee do their bit!
When the carnival - which has had its ups and downs over the decades and finished in 1985 due to lack of support - was revived by the Friends of Bloxwich Parks for the Millennium in 2000, it continued successfully under a new committee and in 2001 the "Old Folks" tea party was revived, at first taking place on the Friday before the Carnival, where invited senior citizens attended a performance by one of Pat Collins' fairground organs.
Today more than three hundred elderly citizens of the district, invited through various local groups, organisations and nursing homes, enjoyed their specially laid-on tea in the very civilised Art Deco surroundings of the former 1920s Bloxwich Baths, which is now a permanent function hall (as it was so often in the past on a temporary basis) associated with Bloxwich Leisure Centre.
2010 Rosebud Holly Arrowsmith (left) and 2009 Queen Sally Kirk (right) serve with pride
And the happy throng were not only well-served by this year's 'carnival royalty' Sally Kirk (2009 Queen), Jessica Jones (2010 Queen), Jessica Watts (2010 Princess) and little Holly Arrowsmith (2010 Rosebud) - but also by members of Bloxwich Carnival Committee plus many other supporters, together with local young people from 196 (Walsall) Squadron Air Cadets, based in Bloxwich.
Tea, coffee - or aviation fuel? The Air Cadets know their duty!
The event started off with a prayer from Rev. Kareen Lowther of Holy Ascension Church, Lower Farm. Then, as well as a fine tea, the guests were treated to a grand singalong by veteran professional musicians and vocalists Antoine Socci (on accordion) and son Antony Socci (on trumpet) of Sapphire Entertainments, who really know how to work a crowd, plus a special appearance by high-energy rock-and-rolling steel band "The Five Star Steel Pans" a group of talented young people from local schools who have come together through the Forest Arts Centre. Little did they know that they were playing on the very stage that legendary acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis rocked on back in the 50s and 60s!
Two musical generations in harmony: Antony and Antoine Socci play up a storm
Rocking and rolling: The Five Star Steel Pans Band
Finally, accompanied by much jollity from both stage and audience, the guests all took part in a free prize raffle organised by the carnival committee, with the winning tickets picked out by hard-working 2009 Bloxwich Carnival Queen Sally Kirk and this year's Rosebud Holly Arrowsmith.
Ken Worley introduces the young "royals" Sally Kirk, Jessica Jones, Jessica Watts and Holly Arrowsmith
Master of Ceremonies Ken Worley, Chairman of Bloxwich Carnival Committee, led proceedings and introduced both entertainers and carnival royalty alike to the happy, cheering audience.
Florence Elizabeth Riley of Bloxwich, looking forward to her 101st birthday in August!
The view from the stage: hundreds of happy faces
Finally, the most wonderful sight of the day for this reporter was the view from the stage, of a sea of smiling faces of hundreds of Bloxwich "old folks". These were the real stars of the show, who today undeniably had a grand day out in the fine tradition of the ancient village of Bloxwich, its people and its Carnival.