A CULTURE scheme that it is hoped will put Southend on the map has had a grand parliamentary launch.
Held at Westminster, celebrities, business figures and dignitaries attended the parliamentary launch of Southend as the Alternative City of Culture, which is Sir David Amess MP’s brainchild.
Speaking about the launch event, Sir David said: “The launch of Southend Alternative City of Culture 2017 at Westminster could not have gone better. There was a wonderful atmosphere and I felt so very proud that we were able to showcase to the mother of all parliaments the rich culture that we have in our town.
“Our new Town Crier, Keith Davidson, stood on the balcony overlooking Westminster Square and invited the mayor of Southend to make the public declaration that Southend was the Alternative City of Culture.
“She gave a wonderful speech in which she referred to our beautiful town. It could not have been a better start to our year of celebrations and I want to thank wholeheartedly all the contributors who made the event such a great success. We now look forward to February when we celebrate Architecture and Heritage.”
After the ceremony, an event in the Palace of Westminster itself took place with a number of local celebrities including Southend United footballer Anton Ferdinand, TV Presenter Dominic Littlewood and celebrity baker Juliet Sear, attending to show their support for Southend and its wide range of cultures.
Various local businesses, organisations and community members were also present to signify how Southend is a leading town for culture in the country.
Among the businesses from the local community was Rossi’s Ice Cream which offered samples of their latest flavoured ice cream.
Managing Director of the company, Colin Gray, said: “I was delighted to support Sir David and Southend for the Alternative City of Culture. I was pleased to see it was well supported.
“I asked to be involved because Rossi is synonymous with Southend and I was delighted to hear Dominic Littlewood say that Rossi was the greatest ice cream in the world.”
Also in attendance was Lynn Tate from the Lynn Tate Gallery in Leigh, and Paul Burkmar Jewellers, also from Leigh, who design they own distinct jewellery.
Other representatives included John Adams from Assemblage Art who displayed his photography of Old Leigh in the Eighties before the fishing industry dramatically changed, and Nelly’s Sweet Treats brought along the famous Southend Rock.
The event also had the pleasure of welcoming the Deputy High Commissioner of the Maldives and the Taipei UK representative who were there in support of Southend as the Alternative City of Culture 2017.
Southend mayor, Judith McMahon, added: “It was a magnificent launch and has lifted the profile of the town and placed us at the epicentre of culture.”