Festival hailed a roaring success

22 September 2014

SUNDERLAND’S first African Festival is being hailed as a roaring success, after people turned out in their thousands to experience the culture, sounds and sights of the continent.

Over the weekend (Sept 19 and 20) around 4000 visitors took part in the various aspects of the events, timed to coincide with the opening of the hit music the Lion King in the city.

The event – which took part in the city Minster – was created by Sunderland Experience It Here, the city’s Business Improvement District, and brought in visitors from across the North East.

Stallholders and shop owners saw an increase in trade in Sunderland throughout the weekend, with the BID receiving nothing but positive feedback.

Performances by the Mighty Zulu Nation Warriors got the event underway with all the activities for young people completely full throughout the weekend.

Sunderland AFC’s strong links with Africa were also evident, with African-inspired tricks and flicks sessions for young people and the club chefs demonstrating African dishes.

The Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Programme also used the event to reward two young people, who received awards from former Sunderland players, Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery.

Lisa Burns, 21 from Pennywell, was awarded Voluntary Humanitarian Worker of the Year 2014following a significant contribution to her local community and developing communities overseas.

At the same time Ehrin Walsh, 16, from St Thomas More RC Academy was awarded the “positive behaviour and most progressive developed volunteer of the year” award after spending a year helping the elderly in the community, along with offering  a helping hand to people in Tanzania, Africa.

“This event has been a massive success and we’ve had nothing but incredible, positive feedback,” said Ken Dunbar, Chief Executive of the BID.

“What was particular exciting was to see the event being so well supported not only by the people in Sunderland but by people from the North East who travelled to the city especially to take part and give a great boost to the local economy.”