Kent’s rich and diverse population

I’m really proud to be the KCC Member Champion for Equality and Diversity, and it was in this role that I joined in the celebrations for Black History Month 2008 yesterday afternoon.  Black History Month began thirty years ago, celebrating every October the achievements of black and asian people across the country.

Yesterday we held a BME Achievement Awards ceremony in KCC’s Lecture Theatre.  Six Kent residents had been nominated by their friends and neighbours for extraordinary endeavours.  I was lucky to be able to join the six recipients for lunch.  I met Aiesha, a very mature twelve year old girl who had been racially abused at school but who had the courage come through her experience and now supports others.  I met Eafor, who runs a restaurant in Edenbridge, and who with his fellow restarateurs held events to raise over £50,000 to help victims of the Bangladesh cyclone, buying ten tractors and water pumps and building thirty new homes.

Or Gomba Sherpa from Nepal, who served for seventeen years around the world in the Gurkhas, and since leaving the Army has formed the Sagarmatha Gurkha Nepalese Community in Ashford, which has grown from just eighteen to almost a thousand members.

As part of the celebrations, we heard Aije Barnes, one of KCC’s personnel officers sing Mariah Carey’s “Hero” totally acapella, then Ashford’s gospel band “Melodies of Grace” (pictured above) who sang two beautiful and haunting Zulu songs.

Kent is fortunate indeed to have such a rich and diverse population, and even luckier that Aieasha, Eafor, Gomba and scores like them choose to live here too.

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