Honour for community servant at show celebrating diversity

Unity in diversity was championed at the weekend as the multicultural heritage of Stevenage’s population went on show.

Around 140 performers in 16 acts entertained a 500 strong audience at the Gordon Craig Theatre on Saturday night as Stevenage World Forum put on its annual Celebrate!!! event.

Now in its eleventh year, the program showcases the town’s musical, dance and theatrical talent inspired by cultures from around the world and at home, including influences from every continent.

Event organiser and town councillor, Michelle Gardner said it was a colourful night with an important message.

“The theme of the night is to open people’s eyes to other cultures. It is important we help foster respect and good relations between groups.”

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She added that next year the organisers would love to include even more variety, including from recent European immigrants to the town.

The forum’s annual Campbell-Younge Award for strengthening community relations was presented to 89-year-old Pat Palmer in recognition of more than 40 years’ voluntary service to the town. She was a fundraising committee member and assistant for over 20 years at The Canyon Play Centre, a librarian at Lister Hospital for ten, and in 1994 helped set up Stevenage Credit Union to assist people struggling financially and cut the threat of loan sharks. She continues to volunteer as a director at the union’s centre at The Hyde.

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The award is named after Reba Younge - a Caribbean-born nurse and teacher who set up a support group for Asian women while fostering children and raising her own family, and Albert Campbell - Stevenage’s first black councillor and mayor. It was presented to Mrs Palmer by Reba’s son Wayne.

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