Steaming from the Junction with more hurry than Andy Murray

Summer fairs, festivals and community events provide for busy weekends for Croydon North‘s MP, as STEVE REED writes

One of the great pleasures of representing a place as gloriously diverse as Croydon North is the number of cultural festivals on offer. Sunday, one of the hottest days of the year, took me to five different events across our constituency.

For Steve Reed MP, Sunday was the hottest and among the busiest days of the year

For Steve Reed MP, Sunday was the hottest and among the busiest days of the year

It was a pleasure to meet some of the people behind the excellent South Norwood Arts Festival at the Norwood Junction Community Garden on Sunday afternoon. The garden, built by primary school children under the guidance of horticultural students, is a beautiful and tranquil oasis of calm alongside the busy railway station. We were there for a tree-planting ceremony, with the digging performed by green-fingered Labour councillor Paul Scott.

I went on to an open day at the Thornton Heath Mosque. The building was open for members and neighbours to come inside and see what goes on and learn a little more about the Islamic faith. The mosque is hugely diverse, and people with backgrounds from around the world were there to welcome their visitors with food, cool drinks, tours and a small exhibition. I arrived just as the Mayor was leaving, and had the chance to speak to a number of people about issues facing the community around the mosque, with concerns about youth unemployment one of the recurrent themes. A young boy showed me how wudhu – or ritual washing – is performed before prayers.

After the mosque I went to Archbishop Lanfranc School in Mitcham Road. The school was the venue for an annual Tamil Cultural Day celebration. I stayed for a series of colourful and energetic singing and dancing performances by some incredibly talented children and young people. It’s wonderful to see how the rich Tamil cultural heritage is being cherished and shared by the community’s youngest members. The hospitality was warm and welcoming and I’m afraid to say I couldn’t resist a small second lunch when it was offered.

My next call was to the Fairfield Halls where a fantastic event called the Sangeetha of the UK was taking place. Sangeetha – which means “music” in one of the South Indian languages – is a traditional festival of song and dance from across the sub-continent. Here, again, I was astonished by the professionalism and talent of young people who had clearly put in hours of painstaking effort to perfect their performances. They did so well, the whole audience felt very proud of them.

Unfortunately, because the schedule over-ran slightly, I had to leave before I had the chance to go on stage and express my admiration in person. I hot-footed it across the town centre to the studios of Croydon Radio, a community broadcaster where I was booked to do a live phone-in. The people of Croydon are a feisty bunch, and I dealt with questions across a wide range of subjects including police cuts, hospital closures, mental health, council tax, obesity, and Crystal Palace Football Club.

What a fascinating day that was – I felt I saw so much of what’s good about our community. My only gripe? I missed Andy Murray become the first British men’s singles winner at Wimbledon for 77 years. Congratulations to him, but also to those wonderful people who organise the events where we can show off to ourselves and to the world what a wonderful, vibrant, diverse place Croydon has become.

  • Croydon North residents wishing to contact Steve Reed MP can do so
  • By email
  • Or by phone to constituency office: 020 8665 1214
  • or Westminster: 020 7219 7297
  • Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source that is actually based in the heart of the borough – averaging 44,000 page views per month, Jan-Jun 2013
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