AWAY from the lights, razzmatazz and spectacle of the annual procession and concerts, there are many other benefits Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival brings to the town and local community.

The financial boost it gives the local economy has previously been well-documented.

Some commentators have gone as far as suggesting the carnival is worth an estimated £4 million annually to the town and surrounding area - £2 million during the weekend of the carnival procession, and a further £2 million from carnival-related activities throughout the year.

This is hardly surprising when not a day goes by without seeing a poster or flyer in the town promoting a carnival-related event of one type or another.

Another positive aspect of the carnival, which benefits both the local economy and businesses in Somerset, is the big role it plays in improving the skills and the overall employability of everybody involved. I can speak from personal experience here.

I first got involved with carnival at just 11 years old, when I used to jump the fence of my parent’s house to help Westonzoyland Carnival Club, who built their entry in an adjacent field.

At such a young age, I couldn’t really do anything constructive apart from tidying the shed, clearing light bulbs, cutting wood etc., but it gave me a great insight into carnival life.

It also provided my first experience of being part of a team of people, all working together to achieve a common goal, which in this case was to build a carnival cart in time for Bridgwater Carnival.

As my carnival career blossomed through my teenage years as a member of the now folded Young at Heart Carnival Club, I continued to learn new things.

I was taught various practical skills, such as using angle grinders, jigsaws, and various other hand tools, and I developed my organisational, business and social skills through being part of a carnival club.

I was a very quiet individual who lacked confidence in my younger days, but being involved with carnival and having fun with a group of friends all trying to achieve something really helped me as an individual.

It also prepared me for college and taking up full time employment. I have no doubt that the skills I acquired from those early years of my carnival career have helped tremendously in my working career as a communications officer at Hinkley Point B power station.

My experience with carnival improving my skills and employability is not unique, and I am sure many other carnivalites have similar stories to tell. This can only be good for the local business sector.

Improving the employability of others is a very important part of our latest marshal recruitment drive. Marshals play a massive role in making our carnival a safe, secure and happy environment, and our procession could not go ahead without their invaluable support.

This year, we have teamed up with Bridgwater and Taunton College to provide free training to aspiring marshals. Those who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate in Event Marshalling, which is recognised by event organisers throughout the south west.

As well as enhancing an individual’s employability skills, it also means those who complete the course could work as a marshal at other volunteering and paid events across the county.

For more information on how to get involved with this unique opportunity, email event director Duncan White at

Until the next time…

Dave Stokes