Soca News was sad to learn of the death last month of Ros Price (Rosalind Patricia Price, 28 January 1941 28 May 2017) at the age of 76.
Ros was a good friend of this magazine and it is probably safe now to reveal that she wrote ‘Olivia’s Diary’, which told the tale of a would-be carnival queen in a somewhat chaotic mas band. The series, which appeared monthly in Soca News in 1998, was evidence in print of Ros’s wicked sense of humour and acute powers of observation.
Whether the experiences of ‘Olivia’ bore any relation to reality must remain a closely guarded secret, but she was known to many as the doyenne of Oval House, where she provided a warm welcome, wise advice and encouragement to a wide range of artists and performers, including many who had fled the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Ros preferred to keep out of the limelight and was never one to blow her own trumpet, but Notting Hill Carnival benefited over many years from her good sense. Never was this more crucial than in the fevered period that saw Claire Holder ousted as Carnival chief executive; Ros’s quiet diplomacy and firm principles helped ease some of the tensions in the mas community at that time.
She played a crucial role in the development of South Connections Carnival Band from its earliest days, when it was known as Ovalionz. A generation of south London masqueraders came to rely on her ability to create costumes out of the most unlikely materials, to produce food and safety pins seemingly from nowhere and, no matter what sort of madness was afoot, to bring order out of chaos – and all with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye.
And on Carnival Day, when the band was safely past the judging point, you would turn round and find Ros had shed her multi-pocketed apron full of emergency supplies and become part of the masquerade, transformed into some mythical being of swirling silk bearing a beatific smile.
While she will forever be linked with Oval House and South Connections, Ros was also a prime mover in the delightful Myatts Fields Junkanoo and in several local organisations such as Stockwell Good Neighbours, where she was chair for over 40 years.
In later years, ill health, particularly failing hearing and sight, must have proved a sore trial, but she simply refused to let it prevent her doing what she loved – helping others be the best they can.
- Soca News offers its condolences to her family and particularly to her partner Alphie Pritchard. We understand that an event commemorating her life has been planned for 9 September.