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Roadshow exhibition for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

Published May 30, 2022 9.36am


A programme of activities will be taking place at venues across County Durham to celebrate Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller heritage.

Our Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) community cohesion and safer communities teams will be hosting a roadshow of events to celebrate Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month this June.

The events will give people the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Gypsies and Travellers and meet people from services which work with them.

Find more information about the support we provide to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Range of activities

Visitors will be able to participate in a range of activities including storytelling, workshops and songs with Pat Renton and Jack Drum Arts, and enjoy a theatre production of Crystal's Vardo, by Friends, Families and Travellers, which uses dance, humour and music to tell stories of rich GRT cultures.

The roadshow will also feature exhibitions detailing events from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history, including the story of John 'Jack' Cunningham, the first Romany Gypsy to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic efforts during the First World War.

Historic exhibitions

The John Cunningham exhibition will include a talk from the Durham County Record Office where visitors can hear the full story of his achievements, including single-handedly defeating a troop of German soldiers to clear a trench up to the new British line.

The roadshow will also feature the Porrajmos Exhibition (the 'Gypsy Holocaust'), developed by the safer communities service, which tells the largely unknown story of the persecution and deaths of Roma and Sinti Gypsies during the Second World War.

From 1934 to 1945, it is estimated that between 200,000 and two million Roma and Sinti Gypsies were killed, however the exact number is unknown due to a lack of recording of numbers for these groups.

The exhibition provides examples of some personal stories of the lives of those who were affected and is regularly used as a learning resource to raise awareness of GRT history.

Event dates

The roadshow celebrations will feature at community venues on:

  • Tuesday 7 June, 10am to 3.15pm - The Witham, Barnard Castle
  • Thursday 16 June, 10am to 3pm - County Hall, Durham
  • Wednesday 22 June, 10am to 11am - Blackhall Community Centre. This session will be open for schools only.
  • Thursday 23 June, 10am to 4.15pm - Blackhall Community Centre

Our GRT community cohesion team will also be attending Appleby Fair on Friday 10 June where there will be a popup stand delivered with colleagues from Darlington Traveller Education Service.

Important stories

The roadshow has been supported with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

Cllr Alan Shield, our Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: "With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, we are proud to present a series of roadshows in support of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month.

"All the activities featured in the roadshow tell very important and diverse stories from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history that often go unnoticed. We are delighted to be hosting these events across a number of venues so that people become aware of both the inspiring and poignant history of Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers."