Time to Celebrate!!! multicultural Stevenage with spectacular stage show

Sherma Batson's husband, Howard Rooke, at last year's Celebrate!!! Picture: Alan Millard

Sherma Batson's husband, Howard Rooke, at last year's Celebrate!!! Picture: Alan Millard - Credit: Archant

An annual showcase of multi-cultural performances returns to the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage next Saturday.

Since it began in 2002, 1,100 performers have participated in Celebrate!!! and people from across the town’s multi-cultural community have been invited to showcase their diverse mix of music and dance in this year’s spectacle, highlighting the many cultural influences in Britain today.

Stevenage Borough Council member Michelle Gardner said: “It’s really exciting to be able to bring Celebrate!!! to the stage for its 16th year during Black History Month.

“It really is a show that highlights the wonderful diversity of cultures we have here in Stevenage and is a celebration of our local talent.”

Among this year’s performers are African drummers, Punjabi Gidda dancers, guitarist Ellie Bullen Ryner, violinist Daniel Garvin and Irish dancers.

Kate Belinis – chairman of Stevenage World Forum, which organises the event – said: “On behalf of the board, we are delighted the Celebrate!!! team has once again worked very hard to put on this show to showcase our talented communities and to bring awareness of the rich and vibrant cultures we have across Stevenage.

“We thank our dear Sherma Batson, who created and steered this calendar event, and we hope people will come and enjoy the fantastic show planned.”

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Sherma was a long-standing member of the borough council, the first female black mayor of the town and a community activist. She was also a Herts county councillor for Broadwater and was awarded an MBE in 2008 for service to local government and the community.

In January last year, Sherma collapsed and died suddenly, aged just 59.

The Campbell Younge Award will be presented at Celebrate!!! to someone in recognition of their outstanding achievements or service to their community.

The award is named after two pioneers who worked tirelessly on behalf of all communities in Stevenage. Albert Campbell was the town’s first black mayor and Reba Younge was a Caribbean mother and nurse who set up a support group for Asian women while fostering children and raising her own three sons alone.

Tickets for Celebrate!!! are £8.50 and can be bought online at gordon-craig.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01438 363200.

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