Battle-winning float marks First World War centenary
A FLOAT which commemorated the First World War won the hearts of the Battle of Flowers judges and saw the Optimists Club take away top honours in this year’s parade.
The Prix d’Honneur-winning exhibit, entitled In Flanders Fields, featured a sitting soldier overlooking a war scene, surrounded by poppies, with a large Union Flag by his side and two doves flying by his shoulders.
It proved to be another strong performance for the club, which in 2016 secured a record-breaking fifth consecutive Prix d’Honneur and has won the top prize a total of 16 times.
The club’s Battle chairman, Steve Bouchard, who designed the float, said: ‘We are all absolutely ecstatic. We all felt it was the right time and place for the theme and we are just so delighted that the people liked what we produced.’
Last year’s winners, St Clement, took the second prize, the Prix d’Excellence, for their float, Into the Woods.
Their chairman, Graham Gibson, said that he and the team were happy but disappointed that they didn’t do better, and felt that the early morning rainfall may have played a factor in how they were judged.
‘What I am most upset about is the fact that our float was out in the torrential rain from 4 am onwards and this took an incredibly heavy toll on the finished result.
‘And by the time we got the call telling us to keep it inside at 6 am, all the damage had been done and it was too late, which was really devastating.
‘But we are not ones to give up easily. And despite being the only parish without a permanent shed, we continue to make the largest floats and we will continue to perform.’
The float, designed by Marcus Davies, featured a fairy-tale woodland scene along with dancers dressed up as various animals.
Arcadia Lockhart, who is the first Jersey Battle of Flowers Ambassador since the title of Miss Battle was scrapped earlier this year, said: ‘I feel hugely honoured to be representing Jersey as well as the Battle of Flowers today. The whole day has been quite emotional. I feel like I am in a bit of a daze as the whole thing feels like a dream come true.’
Jackie Donald, Battle event director, said that the parade had gone incredibly well with nearly all 12,000 tickets selling out this year again. ‘It was a stressful start with the heavy rain but thankfully it all cleared up in time for the parade, which went really well in the end.’
Speaking about the winners, Battle chairman Mo Le Var said that he felt the best design won. ‘The design most certainly pulled at the heart strings and I think the theme, being as it is the centenary of the First World War, was very fitting and the team did an excellent job.
‘I have been a judge before and I can’t explain just how hard it is to have to pick a winning team. But I have just been told it was very, very close with just two points between the two floats [The Optimist Club and St Clement].