spBR24: what a weekend that was!

Blessed by sunshine that seemed it would never arrive, spBR 2024 was a glorious 24 hours of community solidarity.

Our theme this year has been Land and Food. And this was the inspiration for the solidarity supper but also, amongst the information boards dotted around the course, were four fabulous information pieces on food in Palestine. Designed and written by co-organiser Cath Ager, (apart from the one taken from Visualizing Palestine!) – they deserve a special mention. Please have a read if you did not catch them on the day

“It is important to enjoy life” says Adhm Alshani “in spite of the terrible genocide. Ensuring we can celebrate is resistance.” This is certainly the message we received from the pictures sent from Gaza the previous week, of the children running through the ruins of their city: these pictures were displayed on the outside of the Palestine Voices Tent.

And this is what we saw all weekend: an inspiring mix of celebration and anger; joy and sadness.

We desperately wanted to have more of a festival feel and with the help of the za’atar grinders in the poetry tent, the the lantern making crew and Families 4 Gaza, and the programmme in the Palestine Voices Tent we managed to do that, with the hill in front of the Hall being crowded for much of the afternoon and into the evening. You can see lots of photos of the whole day on facebook

At the start of the evening we served 152 meals at the solidarity supper, herded kittens as the lantern procession weaved its way round the course and finally the procession accompanying the torch of remembrance was moving and unifying. As we all lay our candles by the solidarity tree planted by Mahmoud last year, our collective sadness moved on to a mood of defiance as we enjoyed Admed Adnan’s guitar and Oud as the sun was setting.

And on Sunday, with a Palestinian breakfast closing the Palestine Voices Tent, the festival moved on to Buskers Hour: 12 musicians /bands playing arund the park filling the air with music and laughter. And then the closing ceremony – we were really pleased to have the Deputy Lord Mayor with us – and then BIG SING.

The connection with Ramallah and the absence of a connection with Gaza was a reminder of how fragile the lives of all Palestinians are at the minute. In the West Bank, Mahmoud – who planted the solidarity tree last year – was supposed to attend but his village was raided the day before and he could not travel to Ramallah. We have been told he has not been arrested. And in Gaza, there simply was no connectivity possible. But we sang loud and clear and strong and pending a video cut in the Autumn you can see the full closing ceremony on YouTube: https://youtube.com/live/66OkKEMYdQk?feature=share

AND let’s not forget the run. The wonderful 24 hour runners, the football team who ran for 24 hours between them and the 551 registered who made this the most successful small park BIG RUN so far. Thank you!!

On the right is Nick Booker, who ran for the whole 24 hours, looking strong in the early morning. We are immensely grateful to him and other ultra runners

Making it possible – thank you