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Spalding Flower Parade organiser says cancellation was a ‘sad but inevitable’ decision

The man who brought back Spalding Flower Parade says the cancellation of next year’s event was a ‘sad but inevitable decision’.

Stephen Timewell made the shock announcement earlier today (Friday, May 24) that there will be no event in 2025 due to the personal toll, the loss of Spalding’s Castle Sports Complex as a venue during its rebuild along with encountering a host of health and safety red tape hurdles.

Mr Timewell was inspired to resurrect the parade a decade after it was last called off after people in the town had expressed disappointment in the events organised in Spalding to celebrate the 2022 Platinum Jubilee.

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

The first parade in 2022 was a huge success bringing tens of thousands of people to the town - who were welcomed back just a few weeks ago to enjoy the 2024 parade which included two days event at the Castle Sports Complex.

Speaking earlier today, Mr Timewell insisted that nothing would change his mind.

He said: “I am really sad by the decision but it was inevitable as it is such a large event. It just got too big. I am very sad about it.

The Bakkavor Eye of the Tiger float makes its way through the town. Photo: Chris Lowndes
The Bakkavor Eye of the Tiger float makes its way through the town. Photo: Chris Lowndes

“It would be nice if someone would take it on but I don’t think anyone would considering how much time it takes out of your life 24/7.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it. It takes over your life for two years. I have given up my work for it. It is a massive strain as it is not just about a one or two day event. All year we are fundraising, we put on 20 bingos and several fetes. You are constantly fundraising for a full year.

“We have lost the use of our house — it has turned into a warehouse as we had to store everything here. Every single room in the house was full of flower parade stuff.

It was busy along New Road - and perfect ice cream weather. Photo: Chris Lowndes
It was busy along New Road - and perfect ice cream weather. Photo: Chris Lowndes

“We have given Spalding two good years and we have put the town back on the map. It has gone down in history.

“We have built up a community team who are all good friends now. We have made a lot of people happy and friends. That is the legacy of the parade.

Putting on such a large event does require a lot of organisation but Mr Timewell felt that he did not get the necessary support from the authorities.

Hitting the right note in Hall Place PHOTO: CHRIS LOWNDES
Hitting the right note in Hall Place PHOTO: CHRIS LOWNDES

He said: “It is sad for the town but it is what it is. I don’t believe anyone else would actually do it. The hurdles we have to overcome. Health and safety - it’s totally understandable but it got tougher and tougher.

“The Safety Advisory Group are there to advise you and put you in touch with things to comply with. You put barriers up of three metres and next week it needs to be six meters and then we have to medical care. You get three doctors, five nurses and an ambulance but then you are told you need more. It goes on and on.

“Two days before the parade I was still getting grief from one particular member of the group saying that we haven’t done enough. I had been in contact with them for a whole year.”

Holbeach Town Band entertain the crowds PHOTO: CHRIS LOWNDES
Holbeach Town Band entertain the crowds PHOTO: CHRIS LOWNDES

Mr Timewell had previously stated that the bill for the medical side of things alone had reached about £17,000.

Another factor which had led to the cancellation was the loss of the Castle Sports Complex while it undergoes a £26 million revamp.

Mr Timewell said: “The biggest problem is the lack of the venue.

“I understand there are bigger things in Spalding than the flower parade with £26million to be spent, which is great. It will be fabulous if and when it happens

“But that is the loss of the largest green space that would suit the flower parade and Spalding Festival.

“I won’t go to Springfields as a lot of people were upset by that. We looked at an alternative site in Spalding which was big enough for what we need.”

Read all of our Spalding Flower Parade coverage here

But he felt that the alternatives proposed to him were not plausible — as lorries could not make it around the corners that would be part of the route — and he did not feel that Lincolnshire County Council’s highways would grant all the necessary road closures.

Mr Timewell said all of the other events he had planned will be going ahead, including the Gosberton fun day and the market event (which was not a flower parade fundraiser). There was a date for another winter wonderland but he is not sure if that will go ahead.

He also said the recently created community interest company will remain — and a committee meeting to see what members want to do.

Mr Timewell said his wife Sandra had to put up with a lot during the last two years and praised her for her support.

“She has been so patient, no-one else would put up with that. I get crazy ideas and she just goes along with it and is fully supportive.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone that played a part in the parade. Be proud of what we have achieved.”

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