A dazzling mural has been unveiled at a Hampshire fire station as part of a historic event to launch Black History Month.
The vividly coloured six metre by one and a half metre image depicting Afro-Caribbean men and women to the backdrop of the words One Love is now on the front of St Mary’s Fire Station. The mural is the first of its kind in the UK and this is the first time in the county that the month has been officially launched at a fire station. More than 100 people turned up from the group, the fire service and the community for the special event which marked 70 years since the arrival of the Windrush arriving at Southampton Docks.
The event also marked National Inclusion Week.
Black History Month co-ordinator Lou Taylor said: “This event was to launch Black History Month and the pièce de résistance is the wonderful, mural that is now brightening up this area of Southampton. It celebrates the arrival of the Windrush generation into the city and the cohesion of the Afro-Caribbean community in this area. Black History Month is important to me personally as I feel a responsibility to pass on information to the younger generation – black and white. We all know the story of slavery, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement but we also need to remember what happened before that so we don’t lose important parts of history.”
He added Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were a positive part of the community and has always supported Black History Month. He went on to encourage more young black people to get involved with the fire service.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Cllr Chris Carter presented awards to several women who had tirelessly served the community for decades. He said: “It is particularly fitting for St Mary’s to be among the first fire stations to host the launch of Black History Month. This is one of the most multi-cultural areas in the county and the crews and community have fostered an inspirational relationship. We hope that all sections of the community recognise that this is their fire service which exists to respond to their needs.”
There was a short film made by Itchen College Students Christian Garnes and Jack Wilson along with two musical performances by LST and Natasha Watts.
There were also speeches from the former deputy chief of Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service Wayne McCollin, Romsey and Southampton North MP and Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, Janet Hills, National Black Police Association president, and Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Director of Strategic Change Geoff Howsego, St Mary’s Station Manager Paul Parry and Cllr Carter also addressed the packed out fire station along with Sheriff Cllr Peter Baillie and event sponsors.
St Mary’s fire station have engaged with the local communities with many activities including faith days marking Eid, Vaisakhi, Diwali, Chinese New Year and Christmas.
Station Manager Parry said: “It is both a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in the launch of Black History Month. “Our crews and community leaders have worked together to help us engage with the public.
“The mural for us represents the special relationship we enjoy with all of our communities.”
For more information please visit: www.hantsfire.gov.uk