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Banstead Village May Fayre: Queen for the day

PUBLISHED: 16:13 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 20 February 2013

Banstead Village May Fayre: Queen for the day

Banstead Village May Fayre: Queen for the day

Celebrating the spring and looking forward to summer, the May Fayre is a tradition that goes back for centuries. In Banstead, it is an occasion to bring the community together and celebrate youth, as KATY DOWNHAM discovers

As quintessentially English as it gets, the Banstead Village May Fayre is celebrating its silver anniversary this year and at the centre of it all apart from the maypole of course is an 11-year-old girl.


The fifth generation of her family to have grown up in Banstead Village - her great uncles were founder members of the local tennis club this years queen is Jessica Halide Diges (pictured with her prince and attendees).


Im very excited and especiallylooking forward to the crowning, says Jessica, who attends St Annes primary school in the village.


The organisation behind the May 1 proceedings is the Banstead Village May Fayre Group, which is made up of 20 local families the group is invite only but this is hardly the masons; the initiation is simply to retain a strong village connection through the event. The queen is always the child of one of the organising group, as are her prince (actually another little girl) and attendants.


The villages May Fayre started in 1985 and has grown into a large parade and annual fundraiser bearing in mind this is a celebration that dates back to pre-Christian times and the celebrations of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowering plants, Bansteads version is still relatively young.


The founder, Pat Bryant, felt a village as old as Banstead really should have a May Queen and Fayre, says Simone Diges, the groups current chairman and Jessicas mother. This isnt like those big American beauty pageants that you see on TV; its not a cut throat world of pushy mums!


Its a great community day out that brings local schools, clubs and businesses together, and if your daughter does happen to stay interested until becoming May Queen, then its great and a lot of work!


The fayre costs some 5,000 to put on each year and with one of its main purposes being to raise money for a local charity - this years choice is C-R-Y, which is based in Tadworth - local business support is absolutely essential to the success of the day.


I really havent had anyone shut the door in my face when asking for donations, prizes etc, which has been a relief, laughs Simone.


A merry ol time in Banstead


On the day, the queens procession starts bright and early winding its way through the village to the orchard in front of All Saints Church for the crowning and the opening of the fair. Here stands the famous maypole and local schools will be providing entertainment throughout the day there will also be a Pimms and beer tent for the adults.


The May queen was know as a celebration of the spring after a long winter where people can join together tolook forward to the summer ahead, says Simone. With the winter weve had, I think people are looking forward to it more than ever!

This years queen, Jessica, joined the group at the tender age of three and has attended all the May Fayres since. Its a tradition that runs in the family with her aunt Hannah Wingrave having previously occupied the role herself.


When youre part of the group you literally look forward to the day for months and months, says Hannah. Like your wedding, the dress is a huge part of the day. When I was queen there was a white dress with a lacy bodice and a red velvet cape but I think its a bit more contemporary now.


As this years event hopes to bring together many of the villages May Queens past, what better way to celebrate spring and the coming of summer than with a little maypole dancing and a glass of Pimms in honour of our beloved little England.



  • The Banstead May Fayre takes place on Saturday May 1, with the queens procession starting at 11.30am from the United Reformed Church on Woodmansterne Lane. The main fayre will run from 12noon until 5pm outside All Saints Church. This years charity is Tadworth-based CRY.


Banstead May Queens 1985-2010


1985 Victoria Searchfield
1986 Nicola Brind
1987 Nicola Fullerlove
1988 Sarah Gilbert
1989 Suzanne Taylor
1990 Hannah Wingrave
1991 Helen Barham
1992 Katrina Howell
1993 Melissa Barham
1994 Caroline Chapman
1995 Imogen Barham
1996 Katy Turner
1997 Emma Coley
1998 Victoria Bishop
1999 Harriet Norman
2000 Sarah Fraser-Osman
2001 Annabel Parsk
2002 Francessca Skelt
2003 Sarah Walsh
2004 Lucinda Parsk
2005 Lauren Staddon
2006 Kristen Staddon
2007 Christine Parsk
2008 Meera Rajosoorior
2009 Lydia-Rose Mills
2010 Jessica Halide Diges

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