Saturday 30th, November, marked the inaugural SVG Expo UK as part of the UK Diaspora’s celebration of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ 40th Anniversary of Independence this year at the Holiday Inn Hotel, High Wycombe.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines celebrated its 40th Anniversary of its Independence on 27th October, 2019, with many events and activities across the UK. The 30th November was specifically chosen as a later date from the actual date of Independence to accommodate the many celebrations being attended by our Nationals in the UK Diaspora.
The SVG Expo was led by the partnership of SV2G, Vincy Alliance Mas and the National Council of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Associations UK. The expo was sponsored and supported by Kestrel Liner Agencies, a global logistics company. The expo hosted the international Hairouna Film Festival with Vincy film makers led by Festival Director Aiko Roudette; a fully booked creative industry presentation from SVG’s International Ragga Soca Monarch 2019 winner, Hance John; UK based Vincentian, Dale Davis - one of the UK’s top session bass guitarists, he was musical director and arranger for Amy Winehouse. Dales Davis has also backed many musical legends including Paul McCartney and Tina Turner on tour. The audience participated and were able to also hear from Vincentian artists, SunDivas: Sunshine and Nadiva. A selection of works from other exhibitions were on display from Nadia Huggins – ‘Circa No Future’, SV2G – ‘Coming Back Home, Migration project and current project on Vincentian George Alexander Gratton, the first known Vincentian to live in the UK in 1809. Nationals and friends were also treated to the Vincentian services and products on offer along with opportunities to participate in steel pan taster sessions with the School of Steelpans and Wycombe Steel Orchestra as well as carnival mas workshops led by Vincy Alliance Mas.
The expo concluded with a sold out Evening of Excellence hosted by the SVG40 Committee. A special message was aired from the General Secretary the Right Hon. Baroness Patricia Scotland stating how much the Commonwealth values Saint Vincent and the Grenadines including a special presentation for the first UK Diaspora Award. The award was presented to His Excellency High Commissioner Cenio Lewis, for his loyalty and dedication to Vincentian Nationals. Performances by members of the School of Steelpan and Wycombe Steel Orchestra entertained the guests in attendance. The evening culminated with visiting Vincentian artiste Hance John performing with the backing of Wycombe Steel Orchestra. The collaboration was a success from the long hours put in by members of the steel orchestra with Hance John.
A Vincentian Diaspora plan is already in its draft form to address some of the Diaspora challenges and opportunities that will align with the UN sustainable development goals and agenda 2030. The Vincentian Diaspora UK will become visible players on the global stage from awareness of culture, heritage, peace building and advocacy to humanitarian assistance.
The event was attended by the High Commissioner - His Excellency Cenio Lewis, The Lord Lieutenant Sir Henry Aubrey Fletcher, Chairmans from the district and county councils, the Mayor of High Wycombe and representatives from sponsors Kestrel Liner Agencies.
Andy Thorne, CEO of Kestrel Liner Agencies said “We are delighted to have sponsored the inaugural SVG Expo UK. Kestrel has specialised in shipping from across the world into the Caribbean since our doors opened; we are very proud to have a local office in Saint Vincent run by Marlon Gibson and an ever expanding team of local Vincentians. The growth of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines economy is dear to our hearts, as is supporting the Vincy population both here in the UK and back home in the Caribbean. Having spent my life living between the Caribbean and the UK , I understand how reliant the Caribbean is on bringing cargo in from overseas and how much it affects day-to-day business and life, hence our motto - Global Reach with Local Focus.”
The SVG Expo UK and the Diaspora Awards is being planned for 2020 and will host Vincentian businesses to market their products and services with an aim to generate an increased interest in Vincentian merchandise, heritage, arts and culture.
The UK Vincentian Diaspora has come together branded as “SVG40”, under the theme “Unifying to Inspire our Nation” with an outcome to develop a UK Vincentian Diaspora Plan. The SVG40 committee held the first UK Diaspora Leadership Symposium in June this year, of which was the start of collaborative working in preparation for SVG40's celebrations in partnership with The National Council of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Associations UK, Vincy Alliance Mas and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2nd Generation.
Saint Vincent and the 2nd Generation ( SV2G) (High Wycombe)
SV2G (Saint Vincent & the 2nd Generation) was established in 2003 as an Arts and Heritage organisation, promoting the awareness of the African Caribbean heritage and culture of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The organisation manages a range of innovative and creative combined arts projects from outreach work within Vincentian communities for the IOM Diaspora Mapping Project in 2017, through to the delivery of current heritage projects that help develop young people of various diverse backgrounds. As a registered Charity, the organisation has an excellent track-record of delivering high quality activities and events with strong participation and audiences with a cultural impact of global significance.
Vincy Alliance Mas (High Wycombe)
Vincy Alliance Mas launched in 2012 when it became aware of the lack of Vincentian presence that was identified on the streets of Notting Hill carnival due to no other Vincentian Mas band on the road. Vincy Alliance Mas is now the leading Vincentian Mas band at Notting Hill Carnival representing Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the UK. The organisation’s work has evolved into supporting Vincentian artistes, musicians and designers creating opportunities within the UK Diaspora.
The National Council for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Associations UK
NC SVGA UK was formed in 1997 to link all the associations in the UK to coordinate any disaster relief and to work with the High Commission in order that items needed were sent to those in need. NC SVGA UK hosts the annual Thanksgiving Service of Independence where Nationals from across the UK are united under one roof. It’s membership of fourteen Vincentian organisations provide a platform for economic and cultural leadership to enable leverage with members’ expertise and positions within the range of establishments.