“I quite like organising things,” says Chris Waddington, leader of Yarmouth’s Carnival Committee. Human dynamo isn’t quite the right term for Chris: that implies energy without thought, action but hang the detail. Chris Waddington, on the contrary, is all about detail.

The profound joy he gets from seeing the community enjoy the events he has organised, his selfless desire to organise events and raise money for others, and indeed a great sense of fun are not immediately apparent when he talks of sheer amount of organisation involved.

It was after singing carols with the Slipshod Singers, and seeing so few attending the evening that he took on Carols in the Square. He feels that carol singing at Christmas should be for everyone, not just for the few stalwarts. Most importantly he believes that traditional events, such as pancake races, should not be allowed to die.

Having once been area secretary of the Old Gaffers Association, and still being an honorary member, he was particularly thrilled when the Old Gaffers Festival came to Yarmouth. Whilst he’d like to offer more help than he does, he is rather too involved with the organisation of the Carnival. For the events which punctuate Yarmouth’s social calendar are all organised by Yarmouth Carnival Committee. “They are marvellous people who give all the time they can,” he says approvingly.

Resident for just seven years, he had been coming to Yarmouth for carnival week every year since his five children were babies. It was his only week’s break from his boatyard, Wicormarine, in Portsmouth Harbour, which he founded in 1966 and which he has recently handed over to his eldest son. “In those days, whatever was happening at the boatyard, we’d always come to the Carnival. Then one year I was told by Bernard on the committee that the organiser was stepping down. I said ‘We can’t let it die, I’ll give you a hand.” A pause and a wry smile. “Old big-mouth here!”

He goes on: “I did it – I do it – because it’s so desperately important to keep these things going. Because everybody loves them but very few people are prepared to actually get on and do it.”

Chris is prepared, and in spades. The carnival is now in its 98th year, and when he took it on Chris discovered that originally the event had coincided with a town regatta. “I managed to persuade the Yacht Club to hold a summer regatta at the same time,” he says.

For when Chris takes something on he can’t leave it alone: he needs to improve it. He makes notes in his big fat Filofax about how it was done and what could be improved. This applies to all the events in Yarmouth’s year, beginning on Shrove Tuesday with the Pancake Race where school and townsfolk race through the square, then the Easter Duck Race on the Yar, before the week-long Carnival and Regatta in August. Guy Fawkes’ Night is next, with its magical torchlight procession and stunning fireworks.

In December there is the ever popular Senior Citizens’ lunch at the Yacht Club, and of course the Carols in the Square. Four years after he took on the ill-attended event, Father Christmas now has to squeeze through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. “It’s fantastic,” he says.

Yarmouth’s carols are small beer compared to the carols Chris cut his organising teeth on. He created – and bought the equipment for – Carols at the Castle, near his previous home in Portchester, an event which grew to attract up to 2,000 people. “Watching so many people sing carols gives me such a thrill.”

And you can’t help asking what fuels this human engine which drives the Carnival Committee of Yarmouth? For a minute he is at a loss. “I like to see people getting the best out of life, I like to see children getting out and doing things.” His own children have all got out and done things.

Chris’s education in Horsham in Sussex was, he says, pretty poor, and that fact haunts him.  He left school at 15, and his father organised him a job in the wine trade. But it wasn’t for him. “I always liked boats,” he says, and that interest led him into founding his successful boatyard. “Now I have a partner in Penny who loves sailing,” he says, “and we spend every spare minute on the boat.”

Soon after he moved to his new home – in a street of “real Yarmouth people” – a lady on the corner said to him: “I hope you realise there’s more to Yarmouth than the Yacht Club”. She couldn’t have picked a less needy subject for her lecture about contributing to the community. What is interesting is that although he’s well-known round the town, instantly recognisable by his cap and sailing gear, it is not he who is “on the microphone” at the events. You could mistake him for the backroom boy.

“I get satisfaction from organising things, and I enjoy watching large crowds having a good time. And I think ‘I’ve done that – so I can’t be that bad.”