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Spalding Flower Parade relies on a team of volunteers with Pete Boekestyn volunteering as coach ambassador for this year’s two-day event

Since watching his first flower parade at the age of six ,volunteer Pete Boekestyn has had a strong connection to the parade.

The 66-year-old from Spalding will work as a coach ambassador for today’s event and first watched the parade sitting on the wall of the Bull and Monkie pub where his dad served as a barman.

He will be working in a core team dressed in their dapper striped suits and bowler hats overseeing the coach loads of visitors from far and wide as they descend upon Spalding for the long-awaited event.

Pete Boekestyn dressed up ready to meet and greet as this year's coach ambassador. PHOTO: SUBMITTED
Pete Boekestyn dressed up ready to meet and greet as this year's coach ambassador. PHOTO: SUBMITTED

Pete said: “We packed and reloaded 47 coaches last year and this year we have 58.

“I have created signage and we look after the park and ride.

“It is a huge undertaking and this year more than ever.”

The popularity of the event will see three coaches travelling from Great Yarmouth alone plus coach loads from Mansfield, Sheffield, Nottingham and as far as Devon.

He said: “It will be rammed.

“I think the people who want to come probably saw it when they were kids and have now grown up and still want to come.”

His coordinator role is vital to the success of the logistics behind the event but the retired print manager is not fazed.

He said: “I am used to organising things and people.

“The main thing for me is the members of the coach ambassador team.

“All six are personalities and we are a sort of community.”

Pete will facilitate all the coaches at the bus station and will meet and greet drivers and passengers before directing them to the parade and sending the coaches to park.

He said: “The ambassadors get on the bus and show them where the toilets are, the flower parade route, the way to the Castle Sports Centre and times to get back for the coach to pick them up.”

Having lived in the area all his life - including Whaplode, Pinchbeck and Holbeach - Pete explains his reason for volunteering for this huge event.

He said: “I do it because I love my town.

“I didn’t know Steve (Timewell) or Sue (Jackson, head volunteer) two years ago and Steve gives up so much time and loses so much sleep.

“We rely on volunteers and it gives us a sense of camaraderie.”

None of the volunteers are paid for their roles and the time and effort is all year round and involves learning and training.

Pete said: “They train them in stewarding.

“It is not just about turning up and putting on a hi-vis top.

“They have to do an online course and be aware of what might crop up.”

Without a financial reward there are deeper benefits to volunteering.

Pete said: “I love seeing the coaches come in and meet and greet.

“When they say they have had such a great day my job is done.

“I don’t need money for that.”

The team has had a rehearsal to practise coordinating coaches coming into the bus station.

He will work alongside the traffic manager and 60 roadside marshals and make sure he has got everything in place.

Peter said: “We are reliant on people who have a love of putting on a flower parade.”

A well-earned break is on the cards once the dust settles — though he says that visiting Amsterdam to see any more tulips is not an option.

He added: “The only planning I do is a holiday on the morning after.

“I have relations in Holland but I shall not be going to any flower festival.”

Check out all of our pre-parade build-up on our dedicated Spalding Flower Parade section here.

Are you looking forward to the flower parade? Let us know your views in the comments below…

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