The annual Queen’s Park Multicultural Parade took place on Saturday June 4th and brought myriad colors, costumes, laughter and great camaraderie to the streets of Bedford.
The event, hosted by Queen’s Park Community Organization (QPCO), is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate Bedford’s cultural diversity.
While the parade may have been on hiatus for the past two years, QPCO has worked hard throughout the pandemic to help some of Bedford’s most vulnerable people, so the chance for the community to finally come together for the the queen’s jubilee was certainly something to celebrate.
Alongside schoolchildren, community groups and members of the public, local personalities were also on hand.
“We were delighted to have HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, Yasin Mohammed, MP for Bedford and Kempston, Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford, Reverend Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford, Mohammed Nawaz Deputy Chairman of Bedford Borough Council walking in the sunshine with us,” said QPCO Administrator Aysha Magre.
In collaboration with Bedford Creative Arts (BCA), Luma Sounds and Utopia Mas UK, QPCO brought art, dance and music to the streets.
Utopia Mas UK ran a series of art workshops with community groups and schools, during which costumes were made for the parade. These took place at All Saint’s Church Sunday School, Bedford Women’s Organization ILearn, Queen’s Park Academy, Priory Primary School and King’s Oak Primary School.
St Gregory’s and St Joseph’s Schools held capoeira sessions – a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, acrobatics and music – led by the Milton Keynes Capoeira Group and pupils performed on the day of the parade.
Luma Sounds gave a platform for local artists to perform at the event.
David from Utopia Mas UK said: “The idea was for each child to make a flower costume and at the end of the parade all the children come together to make a ‘unity bouquet’. Le Bouquet will represent the cultural diversity of the region.
This year the parade was led by Critical Mass, a campaign to promote safer cycling in Bedford. The band’s Adrian Spurrell said: “It was a great privilege for Critical Mass to be invited by Queen’s Park Community Organization to lead their parade from Bedford Center to the Orchard.
“This is a route taken by many cyclists, although maintaining the pace of walking has tested our cycling skills – even though there are no cars.
“We believe that open, welcoming communities and cycling go hand in hand, so it was a real pleasure to be involved with QPCO. What a great event and what a community.
Eric Masih, Chairman and Trustee of QPCO, said, “After a wet morning, many people from different sections of the communities came to watch the event.
“I wanted to add a big thank you to everyone who participated, all the volunteers and a special thank you to Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bedford for stepping in at the last minute and helping us.”
The event was also an opportunity for QPCO to celebrate achieving incorporated charity status. Aysha Magre, Administrator of QPCO, said the team couldn’t be happier because it means we will be able to help the diverse communities and vulnerable people in Bedford more.
Marie-Ange Comerford-Raillon, Secretary of QPCO, said: “Today was also a celebration for all the volunteers who have done incredible work supporting vulnerable people during the pandemic.
“From the Food Parcel team collecting food from supermarkets, making and delivering the food parcels, to our amazing telephone team keeping in touch with those in isolation, or the many other volunteers who continue and do fantastic work to we.
“They are the real stars of the show, and this event was for them too.”
The event was funded by the Bedfordshire & Luton Community Foundation through the Let’s Create Jubilee Fund and the Harpur Trust.