Derry Council scoops award for Indian cultural event

Mayor Brenda Stevenson and the Derry City Council Community Relations Team show off the award they won for last year's Diwali festival.

Mayor Brenda Stevenson and the Derry City Council Community Relations Team show off the award they won for last year's Diwali festival.

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Derry City Council’s Community Relations Team (CRT) has scooped a prestigious award for the second year in a row for its success in organising the city’s first major Indian cultural event, ‘Diwali Festival of Light 2013’.

Mayor Brenda Stevenson accompanied representatives from the CRT to The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards which were presented by Maria Filippov. of Dancing on Ice fame, at a charity dinner in Nottingham.

Derry City Council took the top award for the Best Public/Voluntary Partnership Working Initiative which attract entries from local authorities right across the UK.

It was the only council in Northern Ireland to win an award for the second year running.

The CRT was also finalists in the Service Team category - Sports, Leisure & Cultural.

APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said: “I am enormously proud of the contribution made by local government frontline services to our local communities. All the finalists and winners are deserving of their recognition as being amongst the best in local public service delivery.”

Congratulating the Community Relations Team on their winning submission, Mayor Stevenson said the Diwali Festival of Light, held in Derry’s Guildhall last November as part of UK City of Culture 2013, attracted 2.000 participants.

It boasted a supporting educational programme with 22 workshops in local schools, integrating Indian culture into the city’s legendary Hallowe’en festivities, promoting inclusion and diversity and challenging racism.

Mayor Stevenson said: “Diwali 2013 brought the locally resident Indian community from three main religions and languages together for the first time in a community planning, capacity building process and joint initiative with Derry City Council.

“The Diwali Festival of Light was a fantastic celebration of Indian culture and Council’s Community Relations Team is to be applauded not just for their success in organising such a successful event but also on winning this prestigious UK award in recognition of what we hope will become a key annual cultural festival in the North West.”

Susan Mullan, Derry City Council’s Head of Community Services, said the team was delighted to win the award and they were now looking forward to Diwali 2014 which will be held in the Millennium Forum on Sunday, October 26, from 4pm-8pm.

It will feature an array of family-friendly craft activities including Henna tattoos, saris, turbans, as well as traditional Indian food and a showcase of music and dance which will be performed at 5.30pm and again at 8pm.

Tickets for Diwali 2014, priced at £2, are available from the Millennium Forum Box Office, Tel. 02871 264455 or online at www.millenniumforum.co.uk