Maverick returns to play 'royal' role in Devizes Carnival
Devizes residents were reacquainted with the man who made roadworks in the town a joy earlier this year - but in a way they would never have imagined.
Richard ‘Maverick’ Byrne, the site engineer who manned the temporary lights at Prison Bridge during work to mend the bridge parapet, so fell in love with the town that he swore to return as soon as possible.
But no one could have foreseen the role the burly 46-year-old father of two would take on.
He said: “I came to see the street festival last week and I was knocked out by it. So I wanted to take part in the carnival procession. Someone said, well, we don’t have a carnival queen this year. Why don’t you do that?”
So Mr Byrne turned up on Saturday afternoon in a pretty frock, blonde wig and an enormous crown. He said: “I was born and raised in Malmesbury and remember the carnival there. But it was nothing like this. This is brilliant.”
The Green was full of life, noise and colour as entrants turned up from 4pm onwards. Judges made their way round the assembled floats and walking entries and Mayor and Mayoress Pete and Sonia Smith had the task of choosing the overall winner.
They selected Southbroom Carnival Group, whose Aztec Jungle entry came from a topic being studied at Southbroom Infants School.
The group is made up of parents and staff from the junior and infants schools and other members of the community. They not only made all their own costumes but put together their own samba band.
Rachel Merrett, who leads the group, said: “We are ecstatic at having won. We started planning this in February and all the hard work put in by everyone has all been worthwhile.”
The group has been invited to take part in a carnival procession on the Isle of Wight next summer by the New Carnival Company, who led carnival workshops in Devizes, funded by the Arts Council of England.
As there was no carnival royalty this year - apart from Mr Byrne - Mr and Mrs Smith led off the procession with musical accompaniment from the London School of Samba, who, only the previous weekend, had been taking part in the Notting Hill Carnival in London.
RESULTS: A (trade floats): 1. Intergalactic Tea Party; 2. Face Envy; 3. Lego Knights (D S Smith Packaging) B (pubs, clubs and street clubs): 1. Pig & Whistle (Melksham); 2. Panto Extravaganza (Heddington Amateur Dramatics); 3. Louis (Devizes Rugby Club Youth) C (disabled groups): 1. PHAB (Alice in Wonderland); 2. HFT (formerly Self Unlimited), Rowde (Mexico) D (schools and youth groups, walking): 1. Southbroom (Aztec Jungle); 2. Trinity Primary School (Flickering Flames); 3. Chirton Primary School (White Horse Wildlife) E (schools and youth groups, vehicles): 1. Devizes Air Cadets (Area 51); 2. Wansdyke School (Where’s Wally in Egypt); 3. Devizes Musical Theatre Footlights (Bugsy Malone) F (individual walkers 16 and under): 1. Super Tiger (Milo Davison, Durley, Marlborough) G (individuals, mixed age): 1. Devizes Town Council (Battle of Devizes 1643); 2. The Land Army; 3. Devizes Musical Theatre (High Society) H (decorated small vehicles): 1. Lantern Jacket (Billy Bones) I (majorette troupes): 1. Bluebell drum majorettes; 2. Wonder Girls (from Bognor Regis); 3.Southern Starlights
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