Tuesday, July 5, 2011


EEN Logo

Norfolk County Council chairman Shelagh Hutson and deputy leader Ian Mackie with Traveller Felix Russell.

Event celebrates Norfolk’s Travelling community

Monday, July 4, 2011
6.30 PM
With the sounds of Romany music filling the air, traditional crafts on display and a colourful Travellers’ wagon parked outside, County Hall in Norwich became the venue for a celebration of Norfolk’s Travelling community.

The Roads to Success event today looked at the Travelling community’s history, recognised ongoing projects and achievements, and showed how members of one of Norfolk’s largest ethnic minorities live today.

Kath Amis, one of the service delivery managers for the Traveller Education Service (TES) at Norfolk County Council and who helped to organise the day, said: “It was a chance for invited guests to meet some of the members of the Travelling community and to share in the successes of the Travelling community throughout Norfolk.”

People could look round a traditional open lot wagon which Felix Russell, 45, and some of his family still live in today along with four modern-day Travellers’ trailers.

PHOTO  Mr Russell, currently based at Billingford, near Bawdeswell, restores s traditional Travellers’ wagons, and he said it was important keep the tradition alive.

Other Travellers flying the flag for crafts that go back generations were Alan and Sally Harwood, 63 and 39, and currently based in Letheringsett. Between them they make hand-carved wooden flowers, Gypsy clothes pegs, beautifully painted woodwork, paper flowers and elaborate knitted clothing.

Mrs Harwood said: “The event was absolutely brilliant. It covered every aspect of the travelling community and our way of life and the options available to people. It also helps to break down barriers between the Travelling community and other people. We want to talk to people about our way of life, and I hope to see more events like this.”

Tuckswood Community Primary School pupils performed Romany music alongside local musicians, and there were displays about Traveller heritage and initiatives being run within the Travelling community today. These included work with Traveller children under five, work by TES in schools, and opportunities for young Travellers to gain qualifications including one in site management to help them learn skills to run Traveller sites.

Gloria Buckley, who runs Roundwell Park and Saddlebow Traveller sites, said: “The event was really wonderful. I think we should do events like this more often. How many people are aware of what is going on in the Gypsy and Traveller community? Events like this help people become more aware.”
While I support events such as this, it is somehow ironic occuring at the same time as the evictions at Dale Farm.  The beat goes on..........

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