South West Wales

Jemima Nicholas: Jacqui Scarr to play Fishguard heroine

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Media captionTwo of those auditioning to be Jemima Nicholas talked about why the role is important

A new actress has been chosen to play the part of an 18th Century heroine said to have repelled the last invasion of Britain.

Jemima Nicholas reputedly led a group of Welsh women in traditional costume to capture French soldiers who landed at Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, in 1797.

Jacqui Scarr, who beat Debbie John to the title after a public vote, said she "hoped to keep the story alive".

Ms Scarr replaces Yvonne Fox, who died in 2010, as Jemima Nicholas.

Ms Scarr's first public engagement is in six weeks when she will appear at a music festival held in Fishguard.

But before then a new costume will be made for her.

After winning the vote, Ms Scarr said: "I'm really excited, I'm really delighted. I never expected to win.

"I must have had a lot of supporters tonight and I hope they'll be my army in the future.

"Fishguard has been going a bit downhill lately due to the economic climate but I think now that we'll try and lift it back up and just promote Fishguard and promote the story."

Speaking before Ms Scarr's appointment, Fishguard and Goodwick town council said there was "huge support" for their efforts to find a new Jemima Nicholas.

Town clerk Sarah McColl-Dorion said: "Yvonne Fox was a huge personality and beloved member of the community playing Jemima Nicholas at local and historical events.

"Very sadly, she passed away a few years ago and our towns have been without a Jemima Nicholas since.

"Our town council has organised an event to find a new Jemima Nicholas and it seems that there is huge support from the local community.

"We are even setting a 'French soldier' loose in the town for the candidates to capture. Many businesses are getting involved, giving escape routes and hiding places to the soldier as he tries to avoid capture."

Drunken invaders

The search for a new Jemima took place at the Royal Oak pub in Fishguard on Wednesday night.

It is the pub where the French army's surrender is said to have been negotiated.

The invasion force had landed in west Wales in 1797 with plans to attack Bristol and London, but they quickly descended into a drunken rabble.

It is said Jemima Nicholas tricked 1,200 troops into surrender by telling local women to dress in traditional Welsh costume to look like British soldiers.

She is also said to have single-handedly rounded-up a dozen French troops while armed with only a pitchfork.

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