THE TOWN of Huddersfield is gearing up to celebrate Jamaica's 54th independence this weekend. On Sunday morning (August 7) there will be a church service at the New Testament of God at 11am.
The town's Fartown Pavilion will then play host to a family fun day that will include food and drink, heritage information, stalls, fun fair and activities for children.
The majority of the first wave of Jamaicans in the late fifties and early sixties who came to Huddersfield have little recollection of Jamaica's Independence Day as it was not celebrated.
Some members of the Jamaica National Council Huddersfield (JNCH) group, who are organising the day's activities, were still in Jamaica in August 1962 and have strong recollections of the day which they can vividly describe.
JNCH secretary Bev Chapman remembers an exciting day in 1962 as an eleven-year-old. She recalls: "All the school children were dressed up in uniforms and out on High Level Road in Montego Bay.
"There were banners all over and we all got a cup with Independence printed on it. There were numerous street parties and music. Everyone was happy and it was amazing”.
Some of the pupils at Chapman's Mount Alvernia High School went on a cruise ship to greet Princess Margaret and sang 'Carry mi ackee go a Linsted Market'.
One of JNCH's most loyal member,s Roy James or Bouncer to those who really know him, ran with the Jamaican Independence Baton which was a really proud moment in his life.
In 1987 Huddersfield marked its first official Jamaica Independence Day by having a church service at Newsome Church of God of Prophecy with Pastor Shaw.
The first time JNCH's held their Jamaican Independence Festival (JIF) was in the following year.
By 1991 there was a new song out called 'Dollar Wine' by Colin Lucas. The compère was Horace Brown who held a competition to see who could do the moves best on stage. Brown was a great presenter. There is a wonderful picture of him in the Jerk House at Lockwood.
Former JNCH chair Annette Cockburn's strongest memories include: the steel bands, her daughter Kashelle singing in 2012 on stage at the New Testament Church of God and in Greenhead Park for JIF50.
Her eldest daughter Gail was a 1986 Tiny Tot winner in 1986 and years later she became Jamaican National Carnival Queen. Gail is now managing director at the newly opened Gail's Travel Shop.
Favourite memories of our Independence celebrations include that fact it is a brilliant time for families with: dancing, jerk chicken and pork, curry goat, drops, sweet potato pudding, bun & cheese, tyre leaf, gizzarda, grater cake, bammy, ackee and salt fish, fried dumplings, coconut drops, yam cake, our special rum punch and homemade ginger beer.
The fun does not stop with food and drink and there has also been domino matches, reggae music, African dancers, African stilt walkers, a tug-of-war competition and fairgrounds.
The young people of Huddersfield have displayed their performance abilities and include Ashford Campbell who is currently on the West End stage in the musical Beautiful. He is also a former finalist on the X Factor.
Every year the clothes people wear is a treat and we encounter friends not seen for ages from all over the world and UK.
However, it does not always go to plan!
One year the main generator broke down so the music fizzled out and a couple of years ago our main organiser forgot to collect the park key, so we came close to being locked out!
Famous artists who have performed include the magical Owen Grey singer of 'Guava Jelly fame, Peter Campbell sharing his version of 'Shaving Cream' and the queen of reggae, Yvonne Curtis, who has the moves that put every recent twerker to shame. We also had the outstanding Omar of 'There's Nothing Like This' fame sing for us.
The majority of mayors of Kirklees have graced our event, Derek Havens was one of the first Jamaican High Commissioners to come to Huddersfield.
This year JNCH's church Service and JIF54 celebrations promise to be memorable. Starting with the church service at New Testament Church of God we have a packed programme.
Our moderator is the incumbent church Pastor Orlando Brown. He has promised to keep the event on a tight schedule which is the new Jamaican way of timing proceedings.
We are being joined by representatives of churches in Huddersfield including Rev. Theophilus Paul from the Church of God of Prophecy, Michael Johnson of the Church of God of Fellowship and Hazel Wigmore of the New North Road Baptist Church. The Shabbach Ministries are performing a special presentation.
As our Church Service Theme is 'Unity with a Purpose' we know the service will be blessed. Our honoured guests include The Mayor of Kirklees Councillor Jim Dodds and the Chief Representative Officer of Jamaica National Building Society UK, Mr Leon Hamilton.
The beautiful Barbara of the praise and worship team will enlighten our hearts as usual.
So if you feel the need to be uplifted join us from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. It will be spirited.
The Jamaican Independence Festival JIF 54 at the Pavillion Park in Fartown will start at 2:00 pm with a welcome from our chair Denzil Simpson, it will be an engaging experience.
Those that cannot make it to church will still have an opportunity to hear from our current Mayor Councillor Jim Dodds and our guest speaker Leon Hamilton, Chief Representative Officer of Jamaica National Building Society. Both have fun personalities so do your best to arrive early and hear their messages.
If you have banking transactions to complete remember to bring your JNBS ID information with you as the JNBS van will be making its annual happy appearance.
On stage we have a gospel singer Marvin Fishley who will melt your heart. Now Huddersfield has got local talent in abundance. Suga Brown the Dance Troupe have original moves I have seen copied on TV.
each Performance Arts have promised an African dance choreographed by the youngsters themselves, Shanta will be singing plus Sophie their singing teacher will be sharing her Ghanian project Ancoma.
Last year she spent a year volunteering to raise funds to help the underprivileged. She has made a film and record to continue her fundraising. If you like Reggae then you will be in the right place as we have two Reggae artists, Miguel Barber from Manchester and our main artist Ossie Gad.
JNCH are grateful to our main sponsors Ashbrow Garage Ltd and Jamaica National Building Society for their continued involvement.
The support from Jarvid Supermarket, Grace Foods, Bling Security, Huddersfield Supasave, Bains Brothers, Asda and the Voice Newspaper is also appreciated.
A JNCH spokesperson said: "May our family event continue to prosper and provide our local community with a vibrant culture, see you on Sunday August 7th everyone!"