The Bri­tish Queen of Al­faz

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Irena Bodnarec

Irena Bodnarec in­ter­views Shan­non Ab­bot, the young lady who was crowned lo­cal fi­esta queen in Al­faz del Pi at the week­end.

A true sign of in­te­gra­tion is that a Bri­tish ex-pat has been cho­sen to be the town’s fi­esta queen, as is the case in Al­faz del Pi. It is a real hon­our and priv­i­lege to take the crown and no one could be more proud than Shan­non’s par­ents Ann-Marie and Damien.

Orig­i­nally from Cross Gates in Leeds, the fam­ily moved to Spain 8 years ago, ini­tially to Al­bir but now liv- ing in Al­faz. Shan­non at­tends the lo­cal in­sti­tute and is to­tally bilin­gual – in fact, she thinks of her­self more Span­ish than English now, hav­ing spent her for­ma­tive years here. The role of the fi­esta queen is a Span­ish tra­di­tion that is deep rooted in their cul­ture, dat­ing back over a hundred years in Al­faz and this is the first time ever that a non Span­ish girl has been cho­sen.

“It is a life ex­pe­ri­ence that I will truly savour and en­joy over the com­ing 12 months” said 16-year-old Shan­non. She is ex­cited at the prospect of im­mers­ing her­self in this tra­di­tion and has the sup­port of most of the Span­ish moth­ers, who will help her nav­i­gate the some­what com­pli­cated rit­u­als, which un­for­tu­nately Ann-Marie can­not do.

For starters, she has had to learn to waltz for some of the forth­com­ing events – which she has taken to like a duck to wa­ter. But even more funny and un­usual, she has had to prac­tice her wave and smile – there is ac­tu­ally a knack to it! But for any girl – and Shan­non is no ex­cep­tion, the real ex­cite­ment and thrill are the beau­ti­ful dresses that she gets to wear, to­gether with a per­son­al­ized sash, crown and scepter. In to­tal she needs three dresses – her corona­tion dress plus two more. But what many may not know is that there is no fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the pur­chase, which can run into thou­sands of euros! For her re­cent corona­tion she went back to the UK with her mother to pur­chase her dress – it is to­tally the girl’s own choice on style. Even her 11-year-old brother Harry was in­volved in the cer­e­mony, car­ry­ing the crown.

How­ever, the other two dresses have to be made to a spe­cific de­sign, although they can choose the fab­ric, for which they are mak­ing a jour­ney to both Ali­cante and Va­len­cia to source. The quan­tity of fab­ric, to­gether with un­der­skirts runs into sev­eral hundred alone, and then there is the cost of hav­ing it all made up by a dress­maker. For each of­fi­cial event she also has her hair and make-up pro­fes­sion­ally done – for her corona­tion she had 62 bobby pins in her head to hold up her hair!

It is cer­tainly fi­nan­cially drain­ing for any par­ent but the pride cer­tainly out­weighs this and Ann Marie couldn’t be more thrilled for her daugh­ter, tak­ing on this cov­eted role. Her tasks and du­ties are cer­tainly var­ied – this com­ing Sun­day she will be pre­sent­ing a tro­phy at the golf club in Al­bir, only wear­ing her sash, but then the fol­low­ing week­end, it is the Al­bir fi­esta’s when she will be in her full cer­e­mo­nial dress.

Well done on be­ing crowned Al­faz fi­esta queen Shan­non – it will surely be an in­spi­ra­tion to many other ex­pat girls here know­ing that one day, maybe it will be their turn.

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