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Ilkley Carnival champions - Ashlands Primary - have sustainability at heart 

Ashlands Primary, winners of Best in Parade at Ilkley Carnival 2024 (Photo: Soul & Co)

Ashlands Primary School, winners of this year’s Ilkley Carnival Best in Parade, share the sustainability efforts that went into their biggest ever parade entry “Yorkshire Folklore and Fantasy Reborn” - with all materials used recycled and repurposed. 

The carnival parade champions wanted to avoid introducing any new materials that may end up in landfill and so focussed their approach on being as eco-minded as possible. Lucinda Warnes, from Ashlands Carnival creative team, said “Rombald, the spectacular 5 metre-high giant that delighted on-lookers on the day, was made from nearly 100% repurposed materials with only the paint, glue and cable ties being ‘new’. His gigantic smock was a colourful patchwork of old shirts; his waistcoat made up of old trousers that were discarded from a local charity; and his head and hands made from newspaper and glue. The impressive body structure was built from cardboard carpet tubes with used underfloor heating pipes supplied from a local builder forming his rib cage.  We are proud to have created our giant at almost net zero cost both financially and to the planet”. 

All 155 Ashlands students and 45 chaperones that walked in the parade wore costumes that were made from recycled clothes and fabrics, along with foraged twigs to make masks and crowns. Children were encouraged to engage with the carnival effort through dedicated ‘maker workshops’ in the lead up to the event and during these workshops they enjoyed stories and folklore from the surrounding area. Everything from bread boxes and packing materials, to shredded rags and old curtains helped make up the impressive costumes worn on the day. 

Finally, the three metre flag banners were crafted from hazel sticks from local woods which once cut prompted new growth in the trees, and the magical giant dandelions that floated along Ilkley were constructed from used paper cups to complete the sustainable parade entry. 

Ashlands Primary, winners of Best in Parade at Ilkley Carnival 2024 (Photo: Soul & Co)

Donna Russell, Headteacher at Ashlands Primary School, said: “We were so proud of every one of our 155 children that took part in Ilkley Carnival this year - we wanted to involve students as much as possible in the process and ensure that we stayed true to the sustainability values of the school, so placed a big emphasis on bringing everyone together for our ‘maker days’. Being crowned champions has been the icing on the cake and our carnival trophy now has pride of place in our Ashlands trophy cabinet.”

Nicola Holmes, Chair of Friends of Ashlands, added: “This year’s carnival really was a true team effort, with over 20 parents with a variety of skill sets dedicating time, energy and creativity over the course of the last few months. It was our biggest entry to date and the results and atmosphere on the day made it all worth it.”

The school deliberately spent as little as possible on costumes and props and as a result the remaining budget has been able to fund the flower meadow in front of Ashlands school, a display that serves as a colourful welcome to all visitors coming into Ilkley.


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