Observer Comment: Carnival queen competition - more than just about looking good

FOR some people beauty pageants are a bit of a throwback - something that should have been left in the 1970s along with bell-bottoms, ABBA and duck a l’orange.

But given that more than 70 women and girls entered this year’s Carnival Queen/Miss Hastings competition, there seems to be more appetite than ever to get involved in a process that still makes certain sections of society a bit uneasy.

The reason for its enduring popularity may be that new Miss Hastings April Grant will be far more than just a pretty face. The competition selects girls with personality, energy and enthusiasm and their role goes far beyond looking good in the ceremonial sash.

For a start, as one of the faces of Hastings they play a part in promoting the town in a range of different situations. Much has been made recently about the apparent downgrading of the mayor’s position and the threat it poses to our role as the premier Cinque Port. But the Carnival Queen attends events throughout the south east and even further afield, representing Hastings and re-affirming its proud traditions. Good job then that April, who only turned 18 this week, is a passionate and articulate proponent of Hastings and St Leonards, determined to improve the unfair image of our town that too many people still harbour.

And Miss Hastings also does a lot to help local charities, either by supporting their events, boosting the profile of the Carnival or through direct fundraising.

Here at least then the beauty pageant has evolved, and far from being a throwback we hope April will be the latest in a long line of forward-thinking ambassadors for the town.


LAST week’s story on the Food Standards Agency’s grading system being adopted by Hastings Borough Council certainly caused a stir.

In it we named the dozen local businesses which scored a zero in the official inspections. A handful of these subsequently contacted the Observer to complain (see letters in NEWS menu).

Their main complaint seemed to be the criteria used by assessors. Some said the Observer was unfair in publishing the names of their business and that the paper should have concentrated on the restaurants and cafes which scored highly.

Our answer was simple. In our opinion every single firm selling food in this town should be scoring highly. That is the least people can expect when eating out.

And as for the criteria, if people are that upset about it they should lobby the council to stop using the ranking. As a newspaper, we printed official statistics released by the local authority, in much the same way we print school results despite teachers disagreeing with the way pupils are assessed. Some firms may have improved since the inspections. Presumably that will be illustrated in the next round of reports and if it does, we will be delighted to report on it.

Our readers have a right to know what is going on in this town and we will continue to tell them. Judging by the letters we received from locals thanking us for highlighting areas in need of improvement, the majority of people are welcoming the new system.

Like any grading, those who score poorly will complain while those who score well will be delighted.


HATS off to the organisers and revellers who packed the White Rock Theatre on Sunday for the ever-popular Beatles Day extravaganza. Topping the £100,000 fundraising mark for Macmillan Cancer Support since the show’s inception in 2000 is a testament to the generosity of the people of Hastings.

Organisers spend many A Hard Day’s Night throughout the year preparing the show each April so it’s heartening to know their efforts have been justly rewarded.