One evening in June 1963, at a dance at Beauchamps School, a friend, Brenda Phillips, persuaded several of us young girls to enter a Community Queen contest which she was organising. The idea was to commemorate the opening of the newly built Community Centre in Market Road during carnival week.
The result was that Vina Waters won the contest and was proclaimed Queen, with me in second place as Deputy Queen, and Carole Foy, Phyllis De’Ath and June Temple as Princesses. Local businesses gave prizes and the court in turn provided services to the community with appearances at social events and by judging photographic and baby competitions.
One of the greatest prizes I received was a course of driving lessons from John Morris of the Morris School of Motoring. John’s tutoring was so successful that I passed my test first time.
The court attended Wickford Carnival in an open landau. However, Vina was due to be married in the very near future, which involved her moving away from the area, so in early October she abdicated and we all moved up a notch, and I was duly crowned Community Queen. The court attended many functions, including visits to other local carnivals.
When the time came round again for the Queen contest in 1964, this time to be named Carnival Queen, the organisers decided that I should be allowed to enter to try for the title in my own right. And, amazingly, I was successful, with Princesses Susan Reeves and Valerie Baker at my side.
Again I won John’s driving lessons but this time, since I had already passed my test, I undertook an advanced driving course which I was delighted to again pass on my first attempt. I hope I was good advertising for Morris School of Motoring!
In 1964 we had a float rather then a horse-drawn landau, and, since this required a driver, my husband Ken stepped into the role, as well as that of chaperone.
The following year, 1965, Susan Reeve was selected as Queen and when she wasn’t able to take part in a sponsored walk from Croydon to Brighton, I stepped into her shoes, or rather, into Mr Wilcox’ shoes, which he donated for the walk. He also sponsored me for 5 shillings a mile (it was a 50 mile walk) as did Councillors R Deri Evans and Ron Rice.
Clockwise from left:
The open horse-drawn Landau with, seated from left – Queen Vina Waters, Princesses Sandra Flexman, Phyllis De’Ath, Carole Foy.
Following Queen Vina’s abdication – from left Princess Carole Foy, Queen Sandra Flexman, Princess Phyllis De’Ath
Sandra presenting the Wickford & Billericay Times Champion Baby Cup to Caroline Blackwell, aged 23 months.
Last official duty for 1963 Community Court, at Thurrock Carnival in June 1964, with 1st prize going to the float.