The great grandchildren of Harlow’s first ever Carnival Queen will get the chance to follow in their great grandmother’s footsteps this Sunday (26 August 2018) as they take part in the Carnival parade.
In 1951 the late Maureen Yvonne Earl from Old Harlow was crowned the Harlow New Town Carnival Queen after being chosen from a crowd and asked to enter the Carnival’s Beauty Queen contest.
This Sunday Maureen’s great grandchildren Samuel (6) and Eden (4) along with their mother Izzy (Maureen’s granddaughter) and grandmother Glynis Grove (Maureen’s daughter) will represent Maureen and take their seats on the special VIP open top bus.
“It is a great honour for me, my daughter and my grandchildren to represent my mum on Sunday. Our family has many associations with Harlow. I have lived all my life in Harlow and raised my family here. I am proud to be part of Harlow's celebrations and particularly of the Carnival. Mum will definitely be smiling down on us on Sunday.”
Councillor Maggie Hulcoop, Chair of Harlow Council, said:
“I am delighted that three generations of Maureen’s family will be part of this year’s Carnival and they will all be treated as VIPs on Sunday. I think everyone in Harlow will enjoy hearing the story of how Maureen became the first ever Carnival Queen and about the contribution she made to the town. I am really pleased that our team has found a way to honour Maureen on Sunday. Hopefully we will create many more stories and memories for the family to share with future generations.”
The Carnival returns to town this year after its comeback as part of Harlow’s 70th birthday celebrations last year.
Up until the 1980s, the Carnival was an annual event in Harlow. It was originally held in Old Harlow, before moving to the New Town in 1951, with Maureen being the Queen of the first New Town Carnival.
Glynis tells the story about how her mother became the Carnival Queen in 1951:
“Mum, who was 14 at the time, went to the Carnival with one of her friends. She joked to her mum before she left to go ‘they won't need to look any further for their Carnival Beauty Queen, I shall win.’ Her mum told her to not be such a show off and big headed.
“Her and her friend walked to the Carnival (which I think was in the Stow area around Moot House). They decided to see who was going to be crowned the Beauty Queen and found a seat in the audience. They had been waiting a while, wondering why the event hadn’t started when a photographer came up to them both and asked them to enter the contest, as they didn't have enough entrants. They both laughed and said ‘you won't need any more entrants’ and went with the photographer. A few more girls were gathered up and they had to walk around and then speak to the judges.
“When her number was called out as the winner, her friend had to nudge her and say ‘It's you’ as she didn't even hear it. She was crowned and given the sash and bouquet - a few pictures were taken for the local paper. They asked her for some details and then let her and her friend enjoy the rest of the Carnival.”
When Maureen got home she rushed in to tell her mother she had won, but unfortunately, her mother didn’t believe her because of her earlier joke, and she was sent to her room for telling lies.
However, when a reporter from the local paper came to interview her the next morning, her mother realised she must have been telling the truth. The reporter asked Maureen her age for the article and it was at this point they discovered she was actually too young to enter. No one had thought to ask how old she was as she looked older than 14. Thankfully, Maureen was allowed to keep the title, but “I think from then onwards they checked the girl’s ages,” Glynis said.
Maureen lived in Harlow for most of her life – she was born in Manor Road, Old Harlow in 1937 and grew up in The Hill. As an adult, she lived at The Hoo, St John's Avenue, Wright's Court and finally Morris House where she died in 2006.
“Mum proudly had her Carnival picture in pride of place on display wherever she lived. It was always a talking point whenever anyone visited us, with people asking where the picture was taken,” Glynis added.
Maureen attended Fawbert and Barnard's School in Old Harlow until the age of 14, where she later returned to work as the School Crossing Patrol (outside Welford’s sweet shop) for many years. Her other jobs included working as a children's help to the GP, Dr Busby and as a machinist at Spirella's in Old Harlow.
She was a passionate member of the St John's Ambulance Brigade and worked in A&E to help with the minor injuries at Princess Alexandra Hospital, when it first opened until about 1980. Maureen also appeared in a campaign for Harlow College promoting adult education and won an award for her achievements in flower arranging.