PREVIEW: St Wilfrid's Procession 2017 - and your photos and memories from previous years

Taking us back to 1977: Suzanne Blakey, Donna Proctor, and Sally Anne Close, supervised by Delia Wilson - all dressed as bumblebees. Do you know any of the other girls in the photo? Picture: Rob Wilson.
Taking us back to 1977: Suzanne Blakey, Donna Proctor, and Sally Anne Close, supervised by Delia Wilson - all dressed as bumblebees. Do you know any of the other girls in the photo? Picture: Rob Wilson.

The St Wilfrid's Procession is a tradition that so many Ripon residents have grown up with and come to treasure so much - on Saturday, August 5, the historic event returns to gloriously celebrate everything that makes the city special.

Generations will line the streets to keep the spirit of the procession alive and inspire others to fall in love with the event as much as they have.

St Wilfrid's nostalgia: Head mermaid Delia Wilson. Photo taken in front of the The Unicorn hotel. Picture: Rob Wilson.

St Wilfrid's nostalgia: Head mermaid Delia Wilson. Photo taken in front of the The Unicorn hotel. Picture: Rob Wilson.

The fondness that the Mayor of Ripon, Coun Pauline McHardy, has for St Wilfrid's, stems back to her childhood.

The Mayor said: "It is extremely important that we keep this Ripon tradition. All Riponians have been brought up with the St Wilfrid's Procession. It is a day that Ripon people look forward to.

"As a little girl, my dad took me down to watch and put me on his shoulders to see over the crowds.

"It is always a very exciting day, and you see people there that you have not seen for years. You see people who moved away from Ripon and have made the special effort to come back for the procession.

Another prize-winning float: Delia Wilson as Cleopatra.  Picture: Rob Wilson.

Another prize-winning float: Delia Wilson as Cleopatra. Picture: Rob Wilson.

"It brings the community together, and it is such wonderful and commendable work that the St Wilfrid's committee does to keep this tradition going.

"The community spirit makes it special. "

Floats from community groups, sports clubs and other organisations across Ripon will be taking centre stage to showcase everything that Ripon has to offer. These will include the Hornblower team, the Ripon City Morris Dancers, Ripon Lions, Ripon City Netball Club, and the Ripon City Swimming Club, all led by someone playing the part of St Wilfrid.

Ken Ferguson, 44, has lived in Ripon since he was three years old. Ken remembers watching the procession with his dad as a child, and thinking that he would love to be on a float one day.

When Ken was 14, he had the chance to be on a Ripon youth centre float from his school, and the theme was dancing through the ages.

Counting down the days to this year's event, Ken is now a volunteer who strongly supports the organising committee.

He said: "After watching from the roadside and being on a float, I am now a volunteer for the St Wilfrid's procession and Discover Ripon, and I'm looking forward to another amazing day for our beautiful city.

"St Wilfrid's procession is a day for Riponians and visitors to come together to celebrate history, tradition, and that Ripon community spirit.

"It's a day where the streets and city comes alive with laughter, cheering and clapping as the procession and floats pass through, beautifully decorated in their different themes.

"It's a day we have all grown up with, and a day that we want to keep for our children and their children to enjoy for many more years to come.

"It simply is Ripon day, and to lose it would be a sad day for all those who have kept the dream alive for a very long time, so it's imperative we keep educating people on why we do it and why it brings happiness, joy and smiles to thousands."

The secretary of the St Wilfrid's Committee, Sue Simms, said: "I have been involved in the procession for four years on the committee, and I came to Ripon in 1967.

"I took part for 12 to 14 years having a float with the Ripon Motor Sport Club. People remember the procession from their childhood, then take part in it as they get a bit older, then go and watch to support it.

"My daughter was involved in it as a child sitting on a float, now she is helping me to organise it.

"There are a lot of sports clubs taking part this year - I think something like this makes groups even more cohesive."

Sally Anne Bryan, a Ripon City Development Assistant, whose earliest memories of the procession go back to when she was five or six, said: “I am very much looking forward to Saturday.

"Rain or shine, it’s always a great family day out for Riponians and visitors. It's a super day to catch up with friends old and new - to enjoy the procession, the atmosphere, and join in with the fun.

"It is a day for all generations to enjoy, and personally I am really looking forward to hearing the Market Place entertainment again - a popular local band called the Begger’s Bunce. I think the St Wilfrid’s Procession Committee work so hard year on year, and always provide a day to remember."

The procession starts on Studley Road at 1:45pm, and goes through the market place and many other Ripon streets before finishing at the Cathedral after 4pm, where there will be a special service.