Celebrate!!! 2016 sees young stars mark town’s 70th birthday and pay tribute to community minded Colleen

The Celebrate performers taking the applause on stage

The Celebrate performers taking the applause on stage - Credit: Archant

A spectacular celebration of culture in Stevenage has marked the New Town’s 70th anniversary and paid tribute to one of Stevenage’s most community minded people.

Colleen Bennett

Colleen Bennett - Credit: Archant

Celebrate!!! 2016 was a spectacle of dance, singing and music at the Gordon Craig Theatre on Saturday, showing off the talents of many Stevenage performers.

But silently, many were thinking of the lady who helped launch the first Celebrate!!! concert in 2002, Colleen Bennett, who sadly passed away after battling cancer earlier this year.

At the event Colleen was posthumously given the Campbell Younge award for her work in the community after working for many years as community development officer for Stevenage Borough Council.

The award was established in 2002 in memory of two pioneers, Reba Younge and Albert Campbell, who worked tirelessly for and on behalf of the minority ethnic community in the town and the wider Stevenage community.

Colleen worked closely with Stevenage communities by supporting and planning their funding ideas and projects, and then helping bringing them to life.

Stevenage Borough Council’s Sherma Batson, who worked with Colleen for many years, said: “She really tried to help people and never stopped doing that, even recently when she was ill.

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“She was a real team player and no challenge was too difficult for her.

“She had an excellent sense of humour and was a great friend and we worked very well together.”

Of Sunday’s concert, Councillor Batson added: “The show went fantasically well.

“We wanted to show how much talent and diversity there is in the town and to do something to mark the town’s 70th anniversary, and many peoples said it was the best one we had ever done.”

“We’ve got so much talent in Stevenage and it’s great to show people that they can achieve anything they want to.”

Acts on stage included Britain’s Got Talent finalist of 2013, Gabz, Stevenage singer-songwriter Nathan Watson, African fashion specialists JT Aphrique and the Herts of Love choir. A gallery of pictures can be found at www.thecomet24.co.uk.