Parade for Tim Peake plans revealed as Gala is cancelled

Crowds lining the streets of Chichester during the gala procession in 2012. ENGSUS00120120206155616
Crowds lining the streets of Chichester during the gala procession in 2012. ENGSUS00120120206155616

A parade for Tim Peake is planned to replace this year’s Gala celebrations after a lack of support saw the procession called off.

The Chichester astronaut is set to be awarded the ‘Freedom of the City’ once he returns home by the city council.

Clerk for the counciil, Rodney Duggua, said it was disappointing the gala would not be able to run, but he hoped the public would give Major Peake a ‘colossal’ welcome.

“This is going to be a huge event for the city, perhaps it will be bigger than the gala, it will be colossal,” he said.

“There is the potential for worldwide interest, Chichester would be the place to be.”

He confirmed the council was in contact with Tim, but said a date and details of the event cannot be planned until the national hero has finished his mission and debrief.

Ideas for the celebration so far include Tim in a Rolls Royce, a military band and free Union Jacks for bystanders to wave.

Mr Duggua said he had met with schoolboy Rufus Knight, who had asked for a ticker tape parade for the Chichester hero. He explained that in reality, there were too few homes above shops on the main streets for ticker tape and that the clean-up costs were high. Instead, he hoped Rufus’ idea could be ‘refined’ to capture a similar atmosphere.

He said: “In the place of ticker tapes, we’d like to see everyone waving a Union Jack.”

Chichester’s annual Gala has previously attracted hundreds of participants, but only 160 people registered an interest in this year’s parade. Mr Duggua said he was hopeful that the Gala would return in future years, but ‘times had changed’. He added: “A lot of people have happy memories of this gala in years past and those memories will be treasured.”

Graham Matthews, from Chichester’s branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I think it’s a shame, but I support the city council. If they don’t have the numbers already, then obviously there’s no point in doing a very small parade.”

To be involved in the Tim Peake event, register with the council by emailing clerk@chichestercity.gov.uk to be kept imformed of developments.