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Chatham Carnival, which once featured Kelly Brook, set to be brought back


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The carnival is coming back to town – after 20 years.

The annual festival in Chatham was for decades a highlight in the calendar for Medway residents.

Rochester Theatre Arts School taking part in Medway Carnival during the late 90s
Rochester Theatre Arts School taking part in Medway Carnival during the late 90s

But organisers called it a day after enthusiasm dwindled at the start of the century.

One of the last to lead the parade was Rochester born-and-bred Kelly Brook – then a teenage schoolgirl known by her real name, Kelly Parsons.

Some say it was this that led the carnival princess on her route to fame as a model and television and radio presenter.

An event entitled Love Chatham had been planned in 2020 to commemorate the 200th birthday of naval officer Thomas Waghorn.

He was born in the town and suggested a new postal route between Britain and India prior to the development of the Suez Canal. But the event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Temple School Strood Steel Band in Medway Carnival in the late 90s
Temple School Strood Steel Band in Medway Carnival in the late 90s
Kelly Brook at her book signing in Waterstones Bluewater
Kelly Brook at her book signing in Waterstones Bluewater

On Saturday, July 9 thousands are being invited to take to the streets for walking carnival processions while organisations linked to the Medway Towns will be hosting a number of workshops and displays.

Problems with insurance issues mean there will not be the traditional floats taking part in the parade.

It is being overseen by Dr David Stokes – the chief executive of Nucleus Arts, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Chatham.

Other themes included will mark 15 years of Love Music, Hate Racism and 40 years since the Falklands War in which Chatham Dockyard played a role.

Dr Stokes said: "This has been possible because of suggestions from community groups to bring back a carnival.

Thomas Waghorn in Chatham
Thomas Waghorn in Chatham
Crowds would like the street for Medway Carnival
Crowds would like the street for Medway Carnival

"It will be a walking carnival so we want to encourage people to join in with their local groups or just come along on the day to enjoy the spectacle.

"The last couple of years have been a big challenge for everyone, but particularly the traders in Chatham.

"We want to bring the community back together again."

Thomas Waghorn is now more known for the statue of him, often with a traffic cone on his head near Chatham railway station.

A Wetherspoon's pub in nearby Railway Street is also named after him.

For details on how to get involved, contact original@nucleusarts.co.uk

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