Portchester Gala 2015 – “a fantastic day”.

“A fantastic day”, “We’re new to the area – had no idea this was going on – it’s wonderful”; “Even better than last year, and that was great” – these were some of the comments heard at this year’s (2015) Gala.  And it was a fantastic day – the weather was just right, fine, not too hot and with both rain and winds kept at bay.  Some 5,000 people are estimated to have attended the Gala in the castle grounds as well as thousands more who came to watch the parade.

The Gala is over 100 years old with Portchester Community Association proud to be the current organisers of this important community event in the annual calendar. Community was very much in evidence this year as along with the commercial traders and stalls (whose fees help keep the Gala viable) there are also scores of community stalls offering displays, information, games, sports, arts, competitions, face-painting,  plant sales, crafts - and all the many activities which go towards making a really vibrant community.  With no shortage of food or drink and plenty of variety as to what to do, crowds really enjoyed this year’s event (“my favourite Gala EVER” as one six-year old put it).  As well as stalls there were donkey rides, Trigger the Train (a favourite), smoothie bikes, a traditional Punch and Judy show and much more. 

Thanks as always go to the many volunteers (80 through PCA alone and many more from other groups) who ensure the day goes well; to A.G. Staplefords for the free programme; to the many traders who donated fantastic prizes, and especially to our key sponsors this year, L.V. Noon, celebrating 50 years of trading in Portchester.

Thanks also go to English Heritage for use of the Castle grounds – they had their own stall there for the first time this year and were really impressed with the interest in what they do as well as the great atmosphere of the Gala in general.

Outside the castle walls the funfair was in full swing and this continued into the evening for young people to enjoy as night fell and everyone else had gone home.


Carnival Parade

The key feature of the Gala is the Carnival Parade and this year was no exception with a bumper array of colourful floats, marching bands, entertainers, “walking” floats, interspersed with historic, quirky and public service vehicles.  Leaving Portchester Community Centre at 11.00 a.m. the parade made its way along Westlands Grove, White Hart Lane and Castel Street to Portchester Castle itself where floats were decanted and participants entered the arena for the prize-giving.  Masses of people lined the streets to wave while along the route a resident sang to the passing parade and the Portsmouth City band played to the crowds.

Leading the procession this year festooned with banners and balloons was L.V. Noon (Estate Agents), the Gala’s key sponsors.  A big “thank you” to L.V. Noon for their support and in putting up display boards around Portchester promoting the Gala (with thanks also to local residents who hosted the boards)!

Participants in the Carnival parade were as follows:

Competition classes


Portchester Community School Parents & Teachers Association (PTA) (Theme/Activity: “75 years of Portchester School – a Big Party”): 1st PRIZE

The PTA comprises parents and teachers from Portchester Community School which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary with a “Big Party” theme and a giant birthday cake.

TS Tenacity (Theme/activity: “Community Marching Band”): 2nd PRIZE

The Nautical Training Corps (NTC) helps young people develop their full potential through nautically-based training and activities including boating, camping and the marching band.  The band has been at the front of the parade for over 25 years.

AZIZA Egyptian Dancers (Theme/activity: “Egyptian Dancing”): 3rd PRIZE

A group of local ladies who attend regular classes (including at The Castle Street centre).   Each year the group performs new dances and display their fantastic (and home-made) costumes.

Portchester Community Association Volunteers (Theme/activity: “Community Painting Team”):

PCA volunteers choose their own Gala theme; this year their “community painting team” represents hundreds of hours put in at The Hub cleaning, sanding and painting, transforming the building for community use as well as creating two wonderful indoor murals.

The Trikes (Theme/activity: The “Portchy Pirates”)

The “Pirates” are a familiar feature of the Gala parade with the Trikes also in display in the castle field.  The Trike owners are local residents who also support local children’s charities.

Juggler John (Theme/Activity: Our unicyclist without a cycle):  SPECIAL PRIZE

John and his unicycle have taken part in the Portchester Gala for over 20 years. This year on doctor’s advice he had to leave his bike at home! Undeterred he walked instead while continuing to juggle.  PRIZE AWARDED for long service to the Gala and indomitability!

Paradise in Portchester (PIP) (Theme/Activity: “PIP in the community”):

PIP is the local seniors’ club started in 2006.  Members enjoy a wide range of talks, activities, displays, singing sessions, demonstrations and outings.  Spin-off groups include Crafty PIP (Crafts) and PIPIT (computer club).  Although having only just moved to the Portchester Hub, PIP wanted to show off all the many things it has done in supporting an active community for seniors.


Note: the children were involved in making decorations and costumes in all cases!

St. Mary's Lambs (Theme/Activity: “Peter Pan”): 1st PRIZE

This friendly group supports parents and carers with children up to 5 years at St Mary’s Church.  The Peter Pan theme featured a pirate ship, stars, Tinkerbelle, Captain Hook and of course Peter Pan.  The children were involved in all the activities towards this float including making the decorations.

Andy Pandy Pre-school (Theme/Activity: “The Natural World”):  2nd PRIZE

The float featured learning about the natural world past and present including ducklings and geese (hatched & tended in the classroom), planting and growing flowers and vegetables, and exploring the world of wonderful creatures big and small from dinosaurs and sea creatures and to mini-beasts.

Portchester Day Nursery and Little Stars Pre-School (Theme/Activity: “Firefighters!”): 3rd PRIZE

Located in the grounds of Portchester Community School this is the fourth year the Pre-School has taken part in the Gala event as a “walking float” and the theme was highly popular with all.


Wicor Primary School (Theme/Activity: “Noah’s Ark”): 1st PRIZE

The float is based on the Noah’s Ark story but with a contemporary look at the implications of global warming and need to take care of the planet.  The children made all their own masks.  Many children are in the school’s Vox Rox choir and provided a singalong as the float progressed.

Castle Primary School (Theme/Activity: “The Lion King”): 2nd PRIZE

The Lion King Theme is based on the film & stage show.  The School is performing the musical in July so this provided a preview of the characters, songs and costumes with home-made costumes and musical instruments.  The Lion King comes to Portchester!

3rd Portchester Scout Group (Theme/Activity: “Raffle Boat”): 3rd PRIZE

The Group’s Beavers, Cubs and Scouts parade in full uniform with flags preceded by their boat containing hundreds of full bottles to be raffled at the end of the day, (the contents not the boat).  The Scouts maintain a terrific Gala presence each year and help many other stalls to get set up.




The Hampshire Caledonian Pipe Band

A traditional pipe and drum band and firm favourite in the procession and the arena.

Coffee Cup Portsmouth: Theme/activity: “Coffee Cup!”

A family run business founded in 2007 more recently established in the precinct and featuring its “coffee cup mascot” as part of a walking group theme supported by both children and adults.

Fire Engine - Station 28 Portchester

A favourite with the public – but we’re still not quite sure why the fire engine was “pulled along by a rope”.  The children enjoyed clambering over the vehicle when it stopped!

Classic Cars

Each year we are joined by local classic car enthusiasts with their vehicles on display to admire while the owners exchange anecdotes and answer questions from members of the public.

Police Vehicle

The mobile unit features Portchester Safer Neighbourhood Team who work closely with the community and always take part in the Gala promoting community safety and police liaison.

Titchfield Carnival Queen

Each year Titchfield joins our parade with a float from their own carnival. This year their carnival queen graced the streets and waved to the crowds.


The parade was also joined by entertainers, musicians, and other commercial floats lending colour and style to a grand spectacle and making it a day to remember…


Our Judges this year (who also presented the prizes and formally opened the Gala) were Chief Superintendent Dave Powell, Head of Hampshire Neighbourhood Policing and Prevention, and Neil Odin, Deputy Chief Officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service who between them did a sterling job and took their role very seriously as well as thorough enjoying themselves. 

The Gala organisers are very keen to highlight the good working relationship between our local community and the important statutory services our judges represent.  At times of service funding cuts these relationships become even more important.

In opening the Gala, Dave Powell paid tribute to the Gala organisers and said how impressed he and Neil had been by the many activities going on in Portchester and in particular at the Community Hub in support of the community.


With a focus on local talent and community involvement, this year’s arena displays were truly impressive with the following acts participating:

Hampshire Caledonian Pipe Band – who always provide a popular selection of pipe and drum music to stir the soul

Aziza Egyptian Dancing - who dazzled us with their amazing new dances and stunning costumes.

EveryoneActive Dance (based at Fareham Leisure Centre) - who provided a truly magnificent display of dance.  The standard was very high with two of the youngsters (aged 7 & 8) having just qualified to enter the Finals of the All-England Dance Championships.

Fareham School of Gymnastics provided a spectacular display of both floor and trampette movements again with a very high standard and some incredible mid-air somersaults.  Several of the young gymnasts are working towards their British Gymnastic awards.

TS Tenacity once again demonstrated their wonderful marching band repertoire and were a credit to all the youngsters who took part

The Hampshire-based Hand-to-Mouth Theatre Company (celebrated for their film, stage and puppetry work) presented a traditional Punch and Judy show for a modern audience and proved a great attraction for old and young alike.

Finally the grand Tug-of War ended the day with a knockout competitions between 6 teams facilitated by Everyone Active Sports (Fareham).  The winners were AJ Engineering who claimed an 18 pint quarter-firkin of ale courtesy Irving Brewery Ltd (Portsmouth) to whom many thanks.


The day ended with the grand raffle draw with prizes donated by Portchester Traders. Raffle proceeds help fund the annual Christmas Tree and lights in the precinct each year; a smaller but nonetheless important event in the Portchester community calendar.

Portchester Community Association CIO - Registered Charity Number 1154548
2 New Parade, West Street, Portchester, Fareham, PO16 9UY
Tel: (023) 9221 0048
Email: admin@portchesterca.org.uk

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