“Where to Begin”
Where to begin? It was 1996 and I was working at Barnardo’s Family Centre at Cadzow, my two children were at the Academy and I felt that I was no longer needed for them to enjoy the Fair. I had done my share of stewarding with the schools and had always wanted to dress up and join the parade. Mr Blobby was a popular character on TV at that time and thinking he would amuse the children of Bo’ness I hired the lovely pink costume with the yellow spots and off I went. It must have been one of the hottest Fairs on record and there I was dressed from top to toe in foam rubber for the day. Never has a pint of lager disappeared so fast when the procession was over!! I had a blast and the joy on the faces of the people of Bo’ness along the route was a real buzz. I was well and truly hooked.
1997 was the centenary Fair and I manage to persuade my sister Pauline, and my friend Nora Armstrong, to take part. Nora was new to Bo’ness and had no idea what she was letting herself in for. We dressed as three jockeys riding ostriches for the day and enjoyed racing around the town in the procession, pecking people in the crowd and the ostriches kept running riot looking up the kilts of the pipe band members. Naughty ostriches !!
From here on it became fun to plan what we would dress up as the next year and folk started to ask us what we were planning to do. Sometimes it was just Pauline and myself but more often than not Nora came too. The reception we have had over the years has been phenomenal.
Various friends and family members have joined us in our efforts over the years but by far the biggest group was the Kirton-Vaughan Canny Shut Yer Trap Family. Old curtains from a sheltered housing complex were used to make the outfits for as many family members as we could “persuade” to join us.
When we first started we used to meet at the Chance Park for judging and then run down to the Town Hall to help to collect entrance money at the gate but when the committee decided to offer a prize for people taking part they felt it was more important for us to enter the competition as it might encourage others to take part. We were relieved of our duties and now we meet at the Chance Park and after the judging we take a leisurely stroll to Craigmailen Church where we have our breakfast before watching the crowning and then joining the parade. In more recent years we actually walk into the Glebe Park behind a band like everyone else who takes part in the procession and if we win the fancy dress competition we are presented to the Queen. This gives us such a thrill when it happens.
We have had various memorable outfits over the years some of which will be remembered more than others, Fairies, Bill and Ben with Weed, Cilla and the Hippy chicks, The Circus, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Come Dancing, Royal Ascot, Sheila’s Wheels to name a few but for me the biggest thrill was in 2016 when my grandchildren were here from Australia for the Fair. None of my grandchildren attend school in Bo’ness and will never be in the Fair so this was an opportunity too good to miss. Our theme was Disney Princesses and my only granddaughter, Rachel, has the perfect colouring for Snow White. The other Princesses were Ariel, Rapunzel and Elsa. My big handsome grandson, Ethan, was our very own Prince Charming and was thrilled to win the prize for the best dressed! My two youngest
grandsons, Joshua and Christopher (from Grangemouth) were our wonderful knights in shining armour. We even had our own decorated house frontage at dad’s house in Hillcrest.
Various other people have had their own small group dressed up over the years but last year we all got together and became a human roller coaster as a joint effort. A great time was had by all and we were sponsored by Caledonian Produce. The money from this along with the prize money was donated to the Bo’ness hospital.
Not only have we been able to dress up and have lots of fun but over the years we have been raising money for charity at the same time whether by asking folk to sponsor us or by having a “showing” of our outfits. One year Tesco’s allowed us to stand in the store on the Sunday after the Fair, so folk could guess how many buttons were on our Pearly Queen outfits.
Over the year’s many small charities have benefited from the generosity of friends and family and of course the wonderful people of Bo’ness. Some of the charities we have helped are Help the Aged, Scottish Haemophilia Society, Strathcarron Hospice, Woodlands Care home, the Cot Death Trust, the MS Society and the Renal unit at Edinburgh Royal in memory of our mum who also loved the Fair. Generally we like to support small charities which have some meaning for us or we have been asked to help by friends. We have been able, on several occasions, to make a donation to the Fair Fund too. This year we are raising funds for Chest, Heart and Stroke.
All good things must come to an end and this year I reach a milestone birthday on the Fair E’en so this will be our last year to dress up and entertain the wonderful, appreciative people of Bo’ness. I would encourage any of our younger people to have a go and take part in the parade. The joy on the faces of the people as you pass them in the procession will lift your heart and not only add to their enjoyment of the Fair it will add to yours too.
Finally a huge thank you to everyone who has given us support over the years, especially the Fair committee who do an amazing job. All together now Hip Hip…………….