DAVE Stokes has been the popular publicity officer for the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival for the past 14 years.

Dave has written for the Mercury on what makes both the carnival and Bridgwater so special.

AFTER 14 years I have taken the decision to step down as publicity officer for Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival, and as I pass over my duties to my successor, I would like to take a few moments to reflect on why the town’s infectious carnival helps to make Bridgwater such a wonderful place to live.

During my time as the event’s publicity officer I have been fortunate to meet many people from throughout the UK who have travelled to the South West to see our annual carnival. It is crystal clear that every single person I have spoken to would love to bottle up the Bridgwater Carnival spirit and sprinkle it all over their home town or village.

As we all know things are extremely difficult at the moment with the seemingly never ending recession we find ourselves in. Unfortunately some historical community activities in other towns which have been running for hundreds of years have fallen foul of the times we live in.

Thankfully our very own cherished town carnival celebrations have found ways of defying the odds and continues to survive. This is credit to everybody involved with carnival in Bridgwater.

Some people have been involved with carnival in the town all of their lives. In some cases we have generations of one family in a single carnival club. Carnival also helps to develop strong friendships with people being brought together to work towards the same end goal.

This of course helps to foster and nurture strong community engagement, and is another unique selling factor when the town’s carnival is compared against the other 200 or so traditional carnivals which take place throughout the UK every year.

We must not forget the boost Bridgwater Carnival brings to the local economy. Every single day in the town you see something to remind you of carnival.

Many companies in and around the Bridgwater area certainly recognise this and they have shown their support by becoming an official event sponsor.

Various research projects and studies have concluded that Bridgwater Carnival is worth an estimated £4,000,000 annually to the local economy - £2,000,000 during the weekend of the carnival and a further £2,000,000 from carnival related activities throughout the year.

So the night the carnival comes to town is a night when Bridgwater can really stand proud and compete against other world famous carnival towns and cities from around the watching world. It is a magnificent spectacle in a wonderful town and let’s hope it continues to entertain for many more years to come.