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The Diversity Festival of the Year" Kendal Unity Festival has brought sunshine and smiles for all in Kendal

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Kendal Unity Festival 2019. Photo by Aftab Khan

The Diversity Festival of the Year" Kendal Unity Festival has brought sunshine and smiles for all in Kendal

The unique connecting communities and celebrating diversity Kendal Unity Festival with an important message to promote a greater sense of unity in the community in the town has brought together local communities, organisations and over 1000 people to enjoy the sunshine, music, dance, cooking demonstrations, foods from diverse cultures and an international coffee morning.

The High Sheriff  of Cumbria Mrs Marcia Reid Fotheringham inagural address at the Kendal Unity FestivalDeputy Mayor Kednal Cllr Dough RathboneAftab Khan 

Everything started at 10 am when the High Sheriff of Cumbria Mrs Marcia Reid Fotheringham opened the proceedings while the new Kendal Town Crier John Anthony Bateson ringing the Unity Bell. The Deputy Mayor of Kendal Cllr Doug Rathbone welcomed the participants of the festival.

There was an international coffee morning in the Abbot Hall Social Centre run by the WI and a very special cookery demonstration by Hirishi Desai from TVs the Great British Menu.  He provided the festivalgoers with a close up look at one of his recipes from the show and one from his restaurant.

The multi award-winning head chef at Gilpin Hotel said, “I am pleased to be able to support the Kendal Unity Festival.  What I have learnt in my career is how much people around the world have in common.

 Everyone loves food – it brings people together.  Sharing a meal with someone gives you a connection with them.  Being able to demonstrate my love of cooking at the Kendal Unity Festival is exciting – I enjoyed meeting local people who also have an enthusiasm for international food.   I’m just glad it won’t have the pressure of a TV competition!”

 A large number of people from all ages took part in the Brewery’s Common Threads project inviting people to Stitch a Bird - creating a collective flock for the day itself at the Birdcage along with arts and crafts activities coordinated by the Manna House in Kendal.

Over 50 dancers, singers and musicians from Tokari School of Theatre Arts, Untethered/United Band, Thieving Magpies, Amabile choir, Vicarage school choir, singers, Steve Grundy, Ava Grace and Kira Tirvengadum performed on stage in the park.

Poetry readings by the young poet’s from the Kendal Primary Poetry Project (Saving) My Place coordinated by St Mark's CE Primary School, Natland and Kendal Collaborative Partnership, a fire engine to explore from Kendal Fire Station, meeting the Kendal Torchlight Gruffalo were key attractions for young and old.

Sharing food at the Great Get Together picnic or trying something from The People's Café, Thai Kitchen in Lakeland and H & M Sensational Cakes for the sweet tooth and fabulous ice cream from Joseph’s Ice Cream Van were available for those trying to cool down from bright shining sunlight.

Decorating a brick for the Unity Wall- an art project by local artist Simon Richardson, dressing up in costume with Kendal Community Theatre and finding out when your birthday is according to Bahai Calendar were star attractions.

Storytelling sessions at the Kendal Library by Phil Hilborne and Beatrix Potter Tales to children (and adults) by Patricia Barnicott has inspired interest in a new generation storytelling enthusiast. Learning about fostering in Cumbria and the diversity game by South Lakes Interfaith Forum and Kendal Unitarian.

 Knowing more about the message of Buddha by Buddhist Group of Kendal; finding the Inner Fire@ Nomadic Ashram, Triratna Cumbria Buddhist Sangha the and building confidence, leadership and volunteering skills by South Lakes Youth Council were all part of the great mix of the activities at the Kendal Unity Festival.

 Yan Tan Taiko drummers performed the exciting rhythms and dynamic movements of Japanese style Taiko drumming in front of hundreds of spectators in the town centre, and art activities at the birdcage run by Manna House attracted many more. John Pye - DJ Smooth radio was there to keep his listeners up to date what is going on with his live commentary and encouraging many more to come and join in the Festival.

Volunteers from the South Lakeland Youth Council and the University of Lancaster Students Union provided support and information to the Festival participants and engaged people in sharing their feedback and suggestion for making Kendal Unity Festival a festival of choice meeting the needs and expectations of all.

Designed for families and people of all abilities Aftab Khan, AWAZ Cumbria, Development Manager and Chief Co-ordinator of the Kendal festival explained, “It is an exciting opportunity for local community groups and organisations to showcase their services and projects.  We want to challenge prejudice, hate and discrimination through voluntary action and active citizenship.  With help and support of our funders and sponsors, we will continue to provide a surprising range of activities and opportunities for the festival visitors where they can have a go at something new, learn something interesting and make some new friends. It’s a great day out for everyone.”  

Cllr Guy Tirvengadum, Chair of the organising committee of the Kendal Unity Festival said, “The success of the Kendal Unity Festal is in its vision and through the contributions of all the participating organisations, volunteers and members of diverse communities living, working or visiting Kendal. We will continue to work hard in bringing people together and spreading the message of unity, hope and love. We look forward to the third Kendal Unity Festival on 20 June 2020.”

AWAZ Cumbria is the lead organisation and responsible for the overall management of the Kendal Unity Festival. Over 50 community groups and organisations participated in the festival including Churches Together in Kendal & District (CTiKD), Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council Fostering Service, Cumbria Development Education Centre & Cumbria Fairtrade Network, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service; Fellside and Greenside Forum, Kendal College, Kendal Event Medics, Kendal Integrated Care Community (KICC), Kendal Leisure Centre (Better), Kendal & Sedbergh Area Quaker Meeting, Lions Club of Kendal & District, Riversiders Trust, Sandylands Residents Association, Springfield DV Services, Women’s Institute (WI), Kendal Torchlight Carnival.

The Kendal Unity Festival has received funding from Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Town Council, Kendal Bid, The National Lottery Community Fund and sponsorship support from South Lakes Housing, The Croppers PLC, Kendal Leisure Centre (Better) and volunteers raised money through bag packing at local Asda store and raffle ticket sales.  

Over 40 local businesses donated exciting prizes for Raffle. A Raffle draw was held before the closing ceremony of the festival and delighted winners got their prizes from Cllr Richard Sutton and Lynne Murray.

The next Kendal Unity Festival will be held on 20 June 2020 at the Abbot Hall Park Kendal.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/UnityFestival ,  www.cumbriaunity.org , Follow us on Twitter: @awazcumbria1 #KendalUnityFestival