St Mary's College Past Students' Union

Leslie Palmer - Member of the Order of the British Empire


The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place in London since 1966 on the streets of Notting Hill, each August over two days (the August bank holiday Monday and the preceding Sunday). It is led by members of the British West Indian community, and attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world's largest street festivals, and a significant event in Black British culture.
Leslie Stephen Palmer, MBE, is a Trinidadian community activist, writer and teacher, who migrated in the 1960s to the UK, where he became involved in music and the arts in West London. He is a past student of St Mary's College and is credited with developing a successful template for the Notting Hill Carnival, of which he was director from 1973 to 1975, during which time he "completely revolutionised the event and transformed its structure and content almost beyond recognition". Palmer is credited with "getting sponsorship, recruiting more steel bands, reggae groups and sound systems, introducing generators and extending the route. He encouraged traditional masquerade, and for the first time in 1973 costume bands and steel bands from the various islands took part in the street parade, alongside the introduction of stationary sound systems, as distinct from those on moving floats, which created the bridge between the two cultures of carnival, reggae and calypso.
On October 13th 2017, he was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to providing the template for the modern Notting Hill Carnival.

Paul Apostle of Christ