FOR a few anxious moments at Connaught Park on Monday it seemed that the Dover Pageant's good luck with the weather would not hold. The greyness above seemed to become slighly blacker and the first drops of what threatened to be a downpour fell onto the already overburdened shoulders of the organisers. But the rain managed to stay away. There were many elements to this 'success - the key was to blend them together seamlessly. This was done with some aplomb by the organisers, especially Mike McFamell and the iron throated Terry Nunn. French Revolution. It all began with Richard the Lionheart, alias Len Howell, opening the proceedings. As with Pageants past, the idea was to celebrate anniversaries. So as last year's Pageant celebrated the Spanish Armada of 1588, this year's was more interested in the French Revolution of 1789 and Richard's crusades in 1189.
There followed the Grand Pageant Parade, in which people appeared to be dressed in the style of every imaginable historical period. Prizewinners of the costume competition were: best dressed boy; Gareth Philipson (7) in his scholarly Dickensian outfit. Best dressed girl was Nichola McPherson (eight) whose costume was undefinable, general consensus, quite charming.
In the adult section, Gill Thomson won the ladies' competition in another Dickensian outfit and Peter lrving was, the gentleman champion with his Nelson (or was it Napoleon?) costume.
The parade was accompamed by the Crowborough Scout Band. In the Queen of the May competition, two girls tied for first place, the judges finding it impossible to separate Claire Dartnall (10) from Hardy Road, St. Margarets and Ann-Malie Wallace (11) of Burgoyne Heights, Dover. Second was Jemma Irving (13) of Lyndhurst Road, River, and third was Clare Jones (9) of Burgoyne Heights. The next attraction was a Tudor dance presented by Squires School of Dancing. This and their second dance - to Victorian songs largely taken from the musical Oliver - were popular enough, but the crowd's hearts were captured completely by what followed. The children all sat on the grass and sang a rendition of Frere Jacque what the younger voices lacked in accuracy they more than made up for in enthusiasm.
A slightly more tuneful, if less endearing, musical treat followed. The Duke of Yorks Royal Military School band played two marches with military precision.
There followed a reminder of the events of the French Revolution with the execution of Monsieur litter and his friend Madame Grafliti. Dover Operatic and Dramatic Society member.s played the leading. parts well with support from Dover College pupils relishing their roles as bloodthirsty mob members. Lesley Camin and Ben Munro faced their death at the hands of the evil executioner Kieron Buffey with great courage.
The chariot race final was, in many ways, the most exciting moment of the day. Quite apart from the fact that this marked the culmination of a day'scompetition between the 17 teams of finely honed athletes, there was also considerable controversy. As the four teams - Vikings B, Rowleys A, Westminster Bank and Rowleys B - lined up, the starter Roger Mills whipped them into a frenzy, the starting pistol cracked and the 16 men charged down the field with primeval screams of pure effort. Unfortunately, however, theRowleys A chariot was not built of such stern stuff as those pulling it. The shaft snapped and passenger Cathy Brown, was unceremoniously dumped on
the grass. But the two eager front runners Gary Punton and Kevin Bessant, saw nothing except the finishing line and heard nothing except the roar of the crowd. They charged down the field with every ounce of their strength - they even broke the world record - being, with Vikings B, one oftheJirst two teams to beat nine seconds. Fit to go But it was all to no avail. Cathy picked herself up and, after a quick check-up by a St.John Ambulanceman, was pronounced lit to go again. A re-run was not the universally preferred option - Vikings B had, after all, still won the race at 8.97 seconds - but race organiser Pat Mills decided a re-run it was. The four teams were given a few minutes to recover from the rigours of the first run and then the linaliinal, as master of ceremonies Terry Nunn put it, was raced. They trudged wearily up the field again and took their places. Roger Mills managed to raise them to fever pitch again and, with a plea to Rowleys B not to break anything, he started them off. They charged off again and thundered down the tennis courts almost as one. This time it looked like a dead heat, but the timekeepers' eagle eyes managed to separate Vikings B and Rowleys A into first and second respectively - a fitting result: reay. Free travel.
The four Vikings, Steve Burgess, Sean Hankinson, Mark Emes and Neil Waller, with their fair passenger Caroline Pugh, were given £100 worth of Sealink ferry travel , Dover and Calais by Sealink's Wendy Gilman, passenger sales executive with the ferry firm. They were also given a shield by Martin Husk to celebrate their world record. The free travel, they announced, would be given to the Mary Sheridan Centre in Canterbury; a charity for handicapped children. In the women's race, sponsored by McDonalds, winners were the McDonalds team of Joanne Drewitt, Sian Hill, Gayleen and Sarah Higgins with Wayne Anderton in the hotseat They were presented with the trophy by their manager Mehrdad Ebrahimi.