Tonbridge unites against rise in racially-motivated crimes

    Tonbridge Calling

    A dedicated team of volunteers has put together ambitious plans for a free music and dance event celebrating the area’s cultural diversity.

    Tonbridge Calling, which is to be held at the Racecourse Sports Ground on Saturday August 13, comes in response to national reports of an increase in racially-related hate crime in the wake of the EU referendum vote.

    The Town Team, which is helping to organise the celebrations, says its aim is to show that the Tonbridge community remains welcoming to people from all backgrounds and nationalities.

    Businesses in Tonbridge have been quick to respond, including The Old Fire Station – which will be providing a bar and barbecue, and support from ethical trading company Bazaar as well as Sulston’s Kitchen.

    The diverse range of music on offer includes blues singer Sam Dunstall and bands such as Island Cassettes, We Ghosts and the Bourne Valley Boys.

    There will also be entertainment from Anaconda Belly Dancing.

    And local organisations will be providing activities for children.

    Resident Ted Rogers said: “We’re trying to create a bit of positivity to counter the seemingly relentless bleak news stories. We hit upon the idea of an event featuring a blend of music, dance and children’s entertainment as a way of celebrating what makes us different from one another rather than hindering our tolerance and understanding.”

    Fred Long, one of the organising team, agreed the event was an important means of demonstrating Tonbridge is a tolerant and open community.

    He said: “After the referendum vote, we wanted to show Tonbridge off in a good light as there is a multicultural community here.

    “So a group of several residents got together to set up this event to celebrate all that is good about the town, and we have had a lot of support from local companies.

    “We’re trying something that has never been done before here, in staging an open air gig in the park and trying to put together something in six weeks that would normally take around ten months to set up. It has been a real team effort, and we would like this to be an annual event.”

    Sam Goode, of the Old Fire Station, which is a sponsor for Tonbridge Calling, added that having been involved with a number of successful community events, its team was glad to be supporting the celebration.

    The event runs between 12noon and 7pm on August 13. If anyone wants to get involved, call Mark Hood on 07968 644 404.