CARNIVAL organisers have apologised after an award was handed out to a group of men who 'blacked up' for the occasion.

The group - plumbers from Barry Frampton Ltd - darkened their skin to portray the characters from the film Cool Runnings for Lymington Carnival, which took place at the town on July 17.

They were presented the trade class prize from judges, despite onlookers branding them as racist, for dressing up as members of the Jamaican Olympic bobsleigh team from the 1993 hit film.

Company director Mish Frampton said: "We are sorry for any offence caused, it wasn't the intent of our carnival entry."

Ian Duncan, president of the Lions Club of Lymington and Brockenhurst, said the sports-themed event, which featured flamboyant floats, said some residents were offended by the actions of the family-firm.

"As organisers of the Lymington Carnival, we would apologise that a few people have been offended by an entry taking part in this year's parade," Mr Duncan said.

"Having spoken to the group concerned, they are very apologetic to have caused this upset.

"It certainly was not their intention to be disrespectful."

One woman, who did not want to be named, allegedly sent an email to the plumbing and heating company to complain about the entry.

She said: "I am shocked that the carnival allowed one of the entries to 'black up'.

"This is racist and should not have been allowed."

But residents later voiced their opinions on social media arguing that they thought the entry was a good effort.

On Lymington Rumour Control, Laura Brady said: "It's called being authentic, not racist.

"Well done the Framptons for your attention to detail."

Scott Hiscock added: "So all these people who see the Rocky Horror Picture Show and dress up as transvestites are homophobic?

"Thought not. Great float and nothing racist by copying a film."