THE 47th annual Darwen Gala was hailed ‘the best one ever’ by organisers.

Thousands of Darreners lined the streets on Saturday to watch the popular annual parade, which left Anchor Lane at 12.30pm, travelled along the A666, and headed up to the gala field at Borough Road.

Darwen Brass, which is looking ahead to the National Brass Band Championship finals next month, led the parade, followed by the mayors of Darwen Town Council and Blackburn with Darwen, councillors Eileen Entwistle and Zamir Khan, and MP Jake Berry.

Behind them were groups from Darwen Morris Dancers, the National Autistic Society, St John Ambulance, East Lancashire Hospice, St Cuthbert’s Amateur Dramatic Society, Accrington Pipe Band, the Royal British Legion, and the Red Rose Land Rover Club, which took along a van that once belonged to celebrated Bolton steeplejack Fred Dibnah.

On the gala field, entertainment came from Darwen Brass, Cheer Valley Chee-rleaders, Accrington Pipe Band, and main act The Mighty Smith, while thousands browsed around various stalls, or sampled the ales on offer in the beer tent.

Coun Entwistle, who opened the gala along with Coun Khan and Mr Berry, said: “There seemed a good crowd, so I hope the stalls did well and made lots of money.

“Charities depend on these big fund-raising events, so I hope they did well.

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the parade. There are so many people to thank, especially the gala comm-ittee. Without them we wouldn’t have this great event.”

Mr Berry said: “I would like to congr-atulate everyone in Darwen for making this a fantastic gala. We can all be very proud. I would like a round of applause for everyone who turned up.”

Gala committee chairman John Sturgess said: “It has been fantastic, and luckily the weather stayed nice. We have been going 47 years now, but this must be one of the best ones ever.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped with the organisation, and everyone who turned up to make this a great success.”