A LIFESIZE mechanical steel elephant trumpeted the return of Havering’s annual music and dance extravaganza, Romfest, on Sunday.
The colourful beast formed the highlight of the main parade procession, called Carnival to Silk Road - organised by arts company Emergency Exit Arts and the Grand Union Orchestra – which celebrated world music, dance and design from many cultures.
Young and old alike escorted the parade, including pupils from Abbs Cross School and Arts College, in Abbs Cross Lane, Hornchurch, and Frances Bardsley School, in Brentwood Road, Romford, and members of the Havering Over Fifties’ Forum and Havering Association for People with Disabilities (HAD).
A drizzly day may have dampened clothes, but not sprits, as hundreds of people flocked to Romford Marketplace for the all-day event, which included appearances by hip-hop dance troupe and Essex’s Got Talent winners, Kryptic Fusion, as well as performances by several talented local singers and musicians.
There was also a youth arena where local bands performed on the rock stage, community safety advice from council officers, arts and craft workshops, and world foods to keep stomachs from rumbling to the music. And children’s favourite, Pontypandy’s Fireman Sam, put in a couple of appearances on stage to keep his fans happy, including Quddus Justin Adeoti, three – who even got to meet his hero backstage.
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Romfest is organised by Havering Council to celebrate Havering’s Cultural Olympiad and the London Week of Peace.
Cllr Michael White, the leader of Havering Council, said: “Despite the rain, a number of people came along to Romfest and what a great event it was.
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“It gave Havering residents the chance to really get involved in an event which is meant for them. From the children who took part in the carnival, to the local bands on stage, everyone performed brilliantly. To have a record number of people taking part in the fun run also shows just how popular this event is.”
The 5km charity family fun run, in Raphael Park, Romford, kick-started the day with a record number of 370 competitors.
A team of 53 runners from 3BX gym, based at the Campion School, in Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch, took part to raise cash for Great Ormond Street Hospital, in Central London.
Fitness manager Denny Stephens’ son Luke was treated at the children’s hospital after he was born with kidney problems.
Denny said: “Luke is now a healthy, happy three-year-old and is only having yearly check-ups. We are so grateful to Great Ormond Street Hospital and as parents we often forget he ever had anything wrong with him. The hospital and all the staff are always fantastic and this was my way of saying thank you. Luke also completed the fun run and thoroughly enjoyed it – especially when he received his medal, which he hasn’t taken off.”
Gymophobics gym, in High Street, Romford, and Uppercut Hair Salon, in Romford Marketplace, kindly sponsored the Recorder at Romfest so visitors could read their favourite local paper for free on the day.