Budleigh float gets stuck at local carnival

IF SUPERHERO-themed floats featured at East Devon’s many carnivals then a heroic Exmouth businessman would win time after time.

That’s the view of Julie Meredith, treasurer of Budleigh Salterton Carnival Club, heaping praise on Richard King, the owner of a local garden centre, who went to her aid after last Saturday’s Ottery St Mary carnival.

In a dramatic conclusion to their appearance at the event, a minibus pulling one of the club’s two floats broke down leaving the vehicle stranded half way up a steep hill.

Mrs Meredith, who was travelling in the bus with her husband, Nigel, the Budleigh princess and a number of other youngsters, said Richard played a key role in making sure everyone got home safe and sound.

She explained: “We were driving out of Ottery on our way back to Budleigh up what we understand to be the steepest hill in Devon when our minibus pulling our float, The Budleigh Carwash, stopped.

“It was pitch black and out of nine of us we had five children travelling with us so it was worrying. This included our princess, complete with tiara.

“We ended up getting out and pushing the float a few inches up the hill.

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“My husband, Nigel, who was driving the bus, was scared of getting out in case it started rolling back.”

Mrs Meredith said they were wondering what to do when a woman driving a 4x4 stopped and asked how she could help.

“Our own 4x4 had already pulled our Royal Family coach up the hill and into the car park of the Hare and Hounds pub at the top of the hill and was coming back to help us.

“But, we didn’t think it would be able to pull the float which is 23ft long. She said she knew someone with a tractor so rang him and told us he was on his way.

“When he got to us with his son we found out it was Richard King, who runs Kings Garden Centre in Exmouth and lives in Ottery.

“Our vehicle was able to pull the float to the top but Richard followed us anyway.

“He was so helpful. You don’t get many of these kind people around! He said if we got stuck again to just give him a call. He’s the ‘king of the road’ in my eyes.”

Mrs Meredith said he also arranged for his wife to take all the youngsters home.

She added: “Most of the night went off really well. We had a nice carnival, winning second and fourth places with our floats.”