The rain thankfully held off long enough for Dartford Town Centre to play host to its annual Saint George’s Day celebrations on Tuesday 23rd April. Organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership with Dartford Borough Council, supported by Same Sky and Arts Council England, the aim of the celebrations were to celebrate diverse England in the context of 2024, recognising and championing differences and commonalities amongst us all. The celebrations also serve as an important moment to educate young people about Saint George the Patron Saint of England.

11 local schools and some 700 young people took part in the celebrations alongside civic guests such as Lord Lieutenant of Kent the Lady Colgrain, Deputy Mayor Cllr Andy Lloyd, Gareth Johnson MP, Deputy Chair of KCC Cllr Bryan Sweetland, and Leader of Dartford Borough Council Cllr Jeremy Kite.

The parade element of the celebrations was also an opportunity for the schools to showcase their creative makes which they worked on ahead of the event in creative workshops delivered by Same Sky. The creative makes consisted of dragons, shields and mascots around the theme of community, friendship, unity and tolerance.

The parade made its way from the Civic Centre, through the town centre before climaxing in Central Park and also featured an array of performers including DDFK Brass Band, Folkin Fusion Drummers, Premiere Brass Band, Kits Coty Morris Dancers, themed stilt walkers as well as two large scale dragons, one of which breathed real fire and the other which was fully interactive. The festivities were led by local historical actor Russell Palmer in full Saint George costume. The celebrations climaxed with some more performances and short words on the Band Stand before the national anthem was played.

Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who produced the celebrations commented “Regardless of wind or rain, the communities of Dartford always show up to support these vital and wonderful celebrations. We are incredibly grateful to all the local schools and residents who attended making this year some of our biggest celebrations yet. We are very proud of what we were able to deliver this year working in partnership with Dartford Borough Council putting on some really great Saint George’s Day activity. I will always stand behind the messaging of Saint George’s Day, that we as residents of England, regardless of ethnicity, faith and background should be proud to celebrate what it means to be British in 2024.”