Tory Councillor Among Parents Who 'Blacked Up' For Bonfire Parade

The float was described as "bad taste all around" by one bystander.

A parent-teacher association has apologised after members attended an annual Kent bonfire parade in blackface as part of a school’s “Caribbean-style” float, including a Tory councillor.

Parents of Hever Church of England Primary School were pictured leading the float through the famous Edenbridge Bonfire celebrations on Saturday.

Spectators were reportedly shocked to see the three adults – two women and one man since identified as local Conservative councillor Trevor Bryant – wearing Spanish flamenco shirts and dresses with brown makeup covering their faces as they held torches.

Bryant confirmed to the Guardian that he wore the make-up.

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The float, run by the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, was awarded joint second prize in the “best junior tableau” bonfire competition.

Headteacher Joanna Stratton blamed an “error of judgement”, adding the float was intended to be a “celebration of all people”.

“The governing body of Hever Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School and I understand there was an error of judgement on behalf of a small number of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) members who took part in the Edenbridge Bonfire Night celebrations at the weekend,” she said.

“The school was not aware of the content or format of the PTA participation, and only became aware of it after the event. The school is proud of its multicultural staff and pupils and does not tolerate any racism or bullying.

“I have spoken to the PTA and they would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. There was no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings and any upset caused is completely contrary to what they hoped to bring to Bonfire Night. I will be speaking to the PTA further to ensure there is no repeat of this.

“We are very proud to be a multicultural school with ‘respect, love and wisdom’ as our motto.”

One onlooker, a dad who wished to remain anonymous, told Kent Live: “This was black-facing and it was highly offensive and shocking. Bad taste all round.

“It was the person doing it who did the minstrel jazz hands to add to it as well.”

Stratton initially defended the move as akin to “putting on a hat, scarf or beard”.

She told Kent Live: “We do not tolerate racism or bullying in our school.

“This was run by the PTA – it is not to do with staff at the school. However, they represent the school.

“We do not feel they blacked up by wearing the costume, they put make-up on because of what they were wearing.”

She added: “It was the same as putting on a hat or scarf or beard and was innocently done - it was as simple as that.”

Stratton apologised “if any offence was caused”, adding that it was “never intended”.

Members of other societies were also seen with blacked up faces.

The annual event famously burns a giant effigy of a controversial public figure, and this year’s 90th anniversary bonfire saw a copy of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson go up in flames.

HuffPost UK has approached Edenbridge Bonfire Society for comment.


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