On Saturday 13th October, The Future Melting Pot’s CEO Estella Edwards was both delighted and humbled to be nominated for, and subsequently to win, a Local Hero Award at the Association of Jamaican Nationals Gala & Awards evening. Held at Aston Villa Football Club, in the heart of Birmingham, the evening was a fantastic celebration of the contribution of Jamaicans and those of Jamaican descent to public life here in the West Midlands.
The evening began with speeches and contributions from luminaries such as Councillor Yvonne Mosquito, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Dr Beverly Lindsay, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands and AJN Chairperson, and West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street, before musical entertainment and a rousing keynote address by Sir Geoff Palmer OBE. All agreed with the sentiments of Dr Lindsay that it was important for communities, proud of their collective identities, to reward and celebrate their champions.
The awards given to local heroes who have achieved so much in the Birmingham community were linked with national heroes of Jamaica. As we are currently in the middle of the United Kingdom’s Black History Month, this nod to the past seemed particularly appropriate, as the men and women awarded on Saturday were demonstrated to be following in the footsteps of some of Jamaica’s most admired historical figures. These included the protest leader Paul Bogle, Jamaica’s first Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante, the female freedom fighter Nanny of the Maroons, and Sam Sharpe, the martyred leader of the 1831 slave rebellion, with whom Estella’s award was linked.
The evening also saw the rewarding of the next generation, with the impressive young people who won Be Inspired Youth Awards providing reassurance that the future is bright. In bringing together so many passionate and committed individuals, in a mood of both celebration and reflection, the event was a perfect reminder of the importance of strong communities coming together.