Romford Carnival Queen remembers reign almost 50 years later

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 February 2015

Jean Challis, age79 from Elm Park, was named as the Romford Carnival Queen 50 years ago this year.

Jean Challis, age79 from Elm Park, was named as the Romford Carnival Queen 50 years ago this year.


A pensioner who was given the royal treatment when she was crowned Romford Carnival Queen almost half a century on, has taken a trip down memory lane.

Jean Challis, of St Andrew’s Avenue, Elm Park, was “thrilled” when the judges announced she had won the contest at the King’s Head pub in the Market Place on March 18, 1965.

She said: “It was wonderful to be picked out of all those girls.

“I really enjoyed being given my tiara and sash and everyone cheering for me – I was so thrilled to win.”

Jean – who was 29 at the time – entered the annual competition with the hope of gaining the overall title.

She said: “More than anything, I wanted to prove to myself if I could do it.

“I was a little bit of a show- off back then so winning was very important to me!”

Jean was one of 12 beauties to take part in the competition, answering questions about themselves and why they felt they should be named as the next carnival queen.

She said: “We didn’t know what to expect, but it like your typical beauty pageant.

“The judges had to watch us all walk as well which was a bit strange, but it was quite fun.”

The moment finally came and Jean was crowned Romford Carnival Queen of 1965 and was presented with a tiara, sash and a bouquet of flowers.

Jean said: “I had to travel through Romford Market on this float covered with paper flowers and wave to all of my “adoring fans”.

“Even though I wanted to win, I didn’t actually think I was going to so was very happy when I did.”

Jean remains good friends with Jean Cox, who was crowned as one of the princesses almost 50 years ago.

She said: “She lives in Lincolnshire now but we still talk whenever we can.

“It was a lovely experience and gave me a lot of confidence.”

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