Carnival parade is set to feel the Force

Andy Cross
Andy Cross

There will be a dark side to this year’s Sandy Carnival – but for the best possible reasons!

Star Wars villain Darth Vader will be joining this year’s parade thanks to Andy Cross and his newly formed Bedford Garrison, a group that brings together costumed Star 
Wars fans to raise money for charity.

And the 43-year-old is hoping that other fans, young and old, will grab their blasters and lightsabers and join in the fun.

Andy, who stands an impressive 6ft 7ins when in full costume, said: “Somebody said to me ‘are you going to talk like Vader?’. Well you can get voice changers, but they’re not cheap. Vader doesn’t really need to speak, it’s all about the way he holds himself and moves. He doesn’t walk, he strides. It’s his presence. As soon as that helmet goes on, I’m Darth Vader for however long I’m in the costume and scaring adults and children.

“Because Vader is one of the more popular costumes with kids and adults alike, you don’t get a moment’s peace at events. It’s difficult to find time for a break, but you really have to make the time to get out of the helmet.”

So far there are around a dozen members of the Bedford Garrison, but more are joining all the time.

And he has even had contact with people who appeared in the iconic films, who want to get involved.

He said: “I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars since the age of seven, so it was a natural progression from being a fan to doing the costuming.

“I can remember as a kid seeing Darth Vader. Back then I didn’t realise it was someone in a suit, I thought it really was Dave Prowse (the actor who played Darth Vader). I can relate back to how that felt as a child. If I can put a smile on people’s faces then it makes me happy, and obviously doing the fundraising and making money for charities is really great too. I’ll carry on doing it as long as I can.”

Fans of other film and TV franchises are also welcome.

Andy added: “I’m not limiting it to Star Wars. We’ve got a couple of people who dress up as other characters and I’ve got a Jack Sparrow coming to an event we’re doing in August. It’s going to be anything from films and TV.”

The group, which will be appearing at events across the country, is currently raising money for Sue Ryder.

Anyone who would like to get involved, and potentially join the Garrison, can contact Andy on 07900 156497 or visit