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Demi Fontaine Gilchrist embarks on new Spalding deputy Flower Queen role and is keen to bring attention to issues such as difference, homelessness and hidden disability





The new deputy flower queen is keen to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and to inspire others during her time in the role.

Demi Fontaine Gilchrist is excited to be supporting new Spalding Flower Queen Rebecca Roberts in this year’s Flower Parade which will be winding its way through the streets on May 11.

The 27-year-old from Spalding has Jamaican heritage and lives with an autoimmune condition which affects her brain but this has made her aware that celebrating difference is important.

Demi Fontaine Gilchrist will become deputy Flower Queen this Mary
Demi Fontaine Gilchrist will become deputy Flower Queen this Mary

She said: “Sometimes when I was younger I noticed I was being treated differently.

“I didn’t understand and mistook it for normal behaviour but it’s not ok for people to do it.

“I am really excited as it is opening up doors - not just for me - not just ethnicity but for invisible disabilities.

Becs and Demi are supportive of each other
Becs and Demi are supportive of each other

“I represent that, this year and every year, going forward and I am a supporter of all things gender neutral.”

Her condition, anti –NMDAR encephalitis, affects her brain and presented itself when she was 17. It was put down to stress and being in a bad relationship at the time.

She said: “Most of it is a blur and I don’t remember much of it - just what people have told me.

Becs Roberts Flower Queen and deputy Demi Fontaine Gilchrist have 'got each other's backs'
Becs Roberts Flower Queen and deputy Demi Fontaine Gilchrist have 'got each other's backs'

“Treatment for it is a plasma exchange and I have had two relapses.”

Demi has undergone a lung puncture test, an EEG which is a test that measures electrical activity in the brain using small electrodes attached to the scalp.

She said: “ The strain I have means the antibodies in my blood don’t work.

Flower Queen Rebecca Roberts (seated) with deputy Demi Fontaine Gilchrist will represent Spalding in the 2024 Flower Parade
Flower Queen Rebecca Roberts (seated) with deputy Demi Fontaine Gilchrist will represent Spalding in the 2024 Flower Parade

“It is about monitoring those antibodies

“I have plasma injected into my bloodstream and I feel better.”

Citing Princess Diana as an inspiration, Demi hopes to be a beacon to shine light on ethnicity and hidden disability.

“Princess Di’s story is quite incredible and her life ended so shortly.

The elephant float in c1970
The elephant float in c1970

“All the things she went through and had taken on, yet remained elegant.

“That’s what I want to represent.”

During her teenage years Demi was likened to China Anne McLain, a Disney film star, and she was someone she could identify with.

Demi said: “She was very much someone who speaks her mind becoming an active speaker on women’s rights.

Deputy Flower Queen Demi Fontaine Gilchrist in the iconic car. PHOTO: POACHER PICTURES
Deputy Flower Queen Demi Fontaine Gilchrist in the iconic car. PHOTO: POACHER PICTURES

“In secondary school people said we looked alike.

“Now when people who say I can’t do things I say ‘look at me.’

Her 92-year-old, Nanny Doreen Hutchinson, is also another female role model offering her a strong family support system.

Demi moved to Spalding from Northampton and lives with her sister and mum.

Her dad is Jamaican and lives in London running a business to help people return to employment.

Deputy Flower Queen Demi Fontaine Gilchrist in the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car. PHOTO: POACHER PICTURES
Deputy Flower Queen Demi Fontaine Gilchrist in the iconic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car. PHOTO: POACHER PICTURES

Demi said: “Dad used to call me his little Princess and my sister his little pumpkin.

“The fact we don’t live together makes our relationship more special.”

Issues that she sees as being important to combat include homelessness.

She said: “It is upsetting to see.

Spalding Flower Parade organiser Stephen Timewell
Spalding Flower Parade organiser Stephen Timewell

“Walking through town and seeing people sleeping on the streets. I wish there were more options and places to get help.

“I just want to help them in any way I can and want to know there are places such as food banks .

“An increase in the number of people using foodbanks is difficult to see.”

Demi Fontaine Gilchrist got down to the final ten and was awarded deputy flower queen
Demi Fontaine Gilchrist got down to the final ten and was awarded deputy flower queen

With an already busy life working at the aptly named Tulip Queen pub, Demi is combing the role while also attending college to train in musical theatre along with night classes to learn to become a nail technician.

She said: “With college it is a little bit difficult but working around it.

Like Becs, Demi is learning new skills such as speaking in public and being guided by current ambassadors, Star Perry and Holly Kendrick. She has enjoyed going to events such as the fundraiser where she was pictured in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.

She said: “At work I can talk to everyone.

Spalding Flower Parade from a previous year
Spalding Flower Parade from a previous year

“My musical theatre and performing has changed my perception of being confident.

“When acting I am always performing but this role has made me more natural.”

Demi is finding becoming deputy flower queen ‘surreal’ as she prepares for the huge event.

She said: “All the rehearsals can lead up to the day but you never know what will happen on the day.

A previous Spalding Flower Parade
A previous Spalding Flower Parade

“The parade goes past my house and it means so much.

“People in Spalding are so welcoming.”

Fitting a lot into her busy schedule, Demi enjoys the variety in her life and her important relationships in helping her to achieve her ambitions.

Demi Fontaine Gilchrist and grandma Doreen Hutchinson
Demi Fontaine Gilchrist and grandma Doreen Hutchinson

She said: “My boyfriend calls me his little tulip queen.

“He doesn’t really like the limelight and gave me the biggest cuddle when I became deputy.

“I am trying my best and I can’t stop limiting myself to just one thing.”

Demi is looking forward to going dress shopping ahead of the parade.

She said: “I am excited to choose a dress.

“I am not sure what design yet.

“But it is exciting.”

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