18th Aug, 2019

Popular Redditch woman shares dismay over no Jamaican independence celebration

Harry Leach 9th Aug, 2019

A WELL-known character in Redditch returned to to the town in time for Jamaican Independence Day on August 6, but says she was upset to see the lack of celebrations.

Veronica Allen, who was born in Redditch, was instrumental in setting up the town’s official twinning link between St Elizabeth Parish and Redditch in 2006 before returning to Jamaica in 2011.

She also set up various meeting groups for the town’s Caribbean community, with the help of Redditch Borough Council and former borough mayor Madge Tillsley MBE.

Now she would like to see a proper student exchange programme set up between St Elizabeth and Redditch.

In the early 1950s many people, including Veronica’s parents, migrated from Jamaica to Redditch and have gone on to raise families here.

“I was very pro-active in making sure Jamaican culture was kept alive in the town,” she said, “so I was extremely upset on my return to see nothing here at all – despite it being the 57th anniversary since Jamaica’s independence.

“I actually had a few tears running down my face when I arrived because there wasn’t even one flag on show.”

During the noughties Veronica and her team held cultural events at Redditch schools and hosted ‘Jamaican fun days’ at places like the Trico Stadium.

On her visit Veronica met Mayor of Redditch Roger Bennett and presented him with a history book about the 14 parishes of Jamaica.

Councillor Bennett said: “It would be good to have the book on display in the Town Hall rather than having it tucked away somewhere.”

Veronica, who runs a heritage centre in St Elizabeth, says she would love to have the mayor or borough councillors visit in the future.

“It would also be good to have a real exchange student programme set up to allow people to easily travel between St Elizabeth and Redditch.

“But it requires someone who is really passionate to get it going here.

“I think it would be a real shame to lose our special connection.”

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