RINGWOOD Carnival organisers have thanked long-standing sponsors for backing the event ‘through thick and thin’.

Final preparations are being made for this year's carnival, which gets under way with a quiz at Trinity Church on Saturday.

The main carnival day is the following Saturday, September 15.

Michael Lingam-Willgoss, vice-chairman of the carnival committee, admitted tough economic times were having an impact on sponsorship income.

But he said: “We are fortunate to be able to rely on long-standing sponsors who stick with us through thick and thin.

“Their help and support is invaluable. Without it Ringwood Carnival would not be the wonderful community event that it is today or, indeed, able to make donations to charity so we’re eternally grateful.”

Mr Lingam-Willgoss was speaking during a visit to key sponsor Ellis Jones Solicitors with Carnival Queen Nancy Soloman and her attendants, Lizzie Treble and Annie Hopper.

The trio are all students at Ringwood School.

Carnival day is being eagerly awaited in Ringwood, with its afternoon parade at 2pm and torchlight procession at 7.15pm. Marching bands will include Dolphin Marching Band, Wessex Military Band, Talbot Corps of Drums, Hampshire Caledonian Pipe Band and the Dorset Youth Marching Band.

Free events on The Bickerley include a fun fair, trade stands, craft, charity and community stalls and a grand firework display for the evening finale.

There will be street entertainment along the procession route and through the town, including stilt walkers, jugglers, buskers and clowns.

Before the day there will be a songs of praise service at the parish church in Market Place this Sunday at 6pm, and the funfair will open at The Bickerley on Thursday evening.

The first Ringwood Carnival was held in 1929, and the event has been held every year since 1950.

Nigel Smith, Ellis Jones’s managing partner, said: “Ringwood Carnival is one of the area’s best-loved community events and we’re very pleased to play our part in its continuing success.”