THE sun shone on Girlington for its annual parade today with thousands of people taking to the streets to celebrate their community.

The theme of this year's event was the Joy of Reading with children from local primary schools encouraged to dress up as their favourite literary characters.

Disney princesses rubbed shoulders with superheroes for the procession, which started at West Park before winding its way through the community.

Leading the parade were Karam and Kartari Chand, the world's oldest married couple who live in Girlington. They were accompanied by children from Whetley, St Philip’s and Girlington Primary Schools and St Edmund’s Nursery and Children’s Centre.

Karam is 109 and his wife, Kartari, is 102. The pair have been married for 89 years, spending much of that time in Girlington after moving from India in 1965.

Their son, Paul Chand, said the parade was one of the highlights of their long lives.

"My parents thoroughly enjoyed it - it was the greatest day for them to come out and lead the parade. They said it was just as exciting as when they went to Buckingham Palace, it was great for them to see the community clapping them. It shows what a multi cultural city we are, and I'm really proud so many people turned up today," he added.

As well as being a celebration of the area's diverse community, the event also tied in with the Bradford Literacy Hub's efforts to encourage more children to read for pleasure.

Free books were given out to many of the youngsters attending, and the day will be captured in a special parade book which will record the experience of parents, children and teachers through pictures and comments.

Also attending the parade was the Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Abid Hussain.

Labour ward councillor Arshad Hussain said: "We've had this parade for the last few years. We always get the local schools and parents involved. It is amazing, you get people from all backgrounds turning out and coming together for a fantastic afternoon.

"I'm confident it has had a positive effect on the children in the area.

"It really brings the Girlington community together."

He estimated that the turnout was even better than last year's parade, when 2,000 people turned out.

It is the fourth time the parade has been held and previous years have celebrated occasions such as the Queen's Jubilee, but the most recent gatherings have focused on improving children's reading.

Girlington’s head teachers and teachers were the driving force behind the parade, and they worked with the support of Bradford West Office.