Bilton Gala celebrates 40 years of being at the heart of the community

The Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown, with pupils at Bilton Grange School.
The Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown, with pupils at Bilton Grange School.

One of Harrogate’s most glorious and dearly treasured traditions celebrated its 40th anniversary on Monday.

Every year residents turn out in their thousands to loyally support Bilton Gala - and with a history spanning over so many decades, the organising committee once again mastered the delivery of a fun-filled day with gala favourites that regulars have come to look forward to, as well as a feast of new attractions.

It was a very special and emotional day for the committee and everyone who has supported the gala over the years.

Jo Huddart, Secretary of the Bilton Gala Committee, has been involved in organising the event for over a decade. She said this year’s event, which had a vibrant back to the 70s theme, once again reflected Bilton’s strong community spirit.

Jo said: “Bilton is a very good community, there were lots of happy faces once again this year, and it’s great that every year the Gala is so very well supported. It’s a really fun family day out at a reasonable cost. We are all very proud on the committee that it went really well this year, and that it’s grown so much over the years.

“I even saw one little girl cry as she left the gala because she didn’t want to go home.

“People who go every year see it as something they do as a tradition now, it’s what Bilton does.”

Former Gala Kings and Queens turned out in force to support the spectacular parade for the occasion that will always hold a special place in their hearts.

But in this milestone year, it was 11-year-old Lottie Hullah who was crowned Gala Queen and proudly headed up the opening parade, with dedicated attendants Ruby Cryer and Bessie Bandeira, both aged eight - all from Bilton Grange School.

The Harrogate Bus Company sent the special Peter Melville-Smith 36 bus to the gala, in memory of the hugely admired bus driver.

Jo said: “That was a really nice touch for the gala.

“We also had a lot of attractions this year, including the Stannage International Stunt Team, which went down really well.”

With donkey rides, archery, a reptile roadshow, dozens of stalls, and strong man John Evans wowing crowds, the committee have hailed this year’s Gala, which was sponsored by Verity Frearson and Yorkshire Radiology, a fantastic success.

Since its opening year in 1977, the gala has expanded and grown from its base at Richard Taylor Cof E Primary School on Bilton Lane to the adjoining fields. The gala has fundraised for dozens of good causes and placed itself firmly at the heart of the community.

This year’s parade float winner was Bilton Schools Together and first place in the fancy dress competition went to Kane and Charlotte Cuthbert, going as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.