THE people of Britain were thanked for their support of the Ukrainian people in an emotional speech at Crediton Diversity Festival held in the town's square on Saturday, September 9.

One of the event volunteer's Carina Pearce explained: "I was brought to tears by the speech by one of the members of the Ukrainian singers.

"Her speech was translated and it was heartfelt.

"She thanked the people of Britain for their support and said it really meant a lot to them and all of us listening."

Event co-organiser Alan Quick added: "Crediton Town and Mid Devon District Councillor Natalia Letch translated the speech and it really was a sincere and emotional 'thank you' to the people of Britain.

"We have many people who live locally after arriving here from Ukraine.

"They have been helped so generously by the people of the town and wider community that we sometimes forget how much they have been through and how they feel so welcomed by the community here.

"The speech included the words: 'You are like our close friends, we feel so comfortable here, and we will never ever forget your kindness'."

Members of the local Ukrainian community sang traditional Ukrainian songs and danced at the Festival.

The event included live entertainment as well as information and advice stalls from many groups and organisations.

Alan, who started the first festival and has been involved since, said that this year’s Festival was the fifth and thanked Crediton Town Council for its assistance in organising the event.

He continued: "Crediton Town Council recognised that the event is an important event in the town calendar and was pleased to commit to assisting in the organisation of the event to ensure people realise that Crediton is a welcoming place for all and there is no place here for racism or hate of any kind."

He thanked Crediton Town Council's Project Officer Jo Davey for her hard work in helping to co-organise the event.

Alan added: "It was great to see people networking, taking part in the dancing, listening to the music and enjoying the event in such hot weather.

Alan said that reports of racist incidents and hate crimes in Crediton were the inspiration behind the first Crediton Diversity Festival, which was staged in November 2018.

The second event, held in June 2019, took place after graffiti, including a swastika and anti-Semitic wording, were found on a property off Dean Street.

The 2019 festival funded some diversity educational work at Crediton’s Hayward's Primary School and the year before it did the same at Landscore Primary School.

Alan added: “Each individual is unique regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs or other difference.

“By valuing diversity we recognise the differences between people and acknowledge that these differences are a valued asset."

The Festival was supported by Crediton Town Council, the Crediton Courier, Crediton Youth Club, Crediton Arts Centre, Crediton Tesco, Crediton Morrisons and Devon County Council.

Crediton Tesco donated 100 bottles of water which were much appreciated and goody bags were also distributed. Crediton Morrisons kindly donated hundreds of doughnuts plus sweets and crisps.

The event was opened by Deputy Mayor of Crediton, Cllr Steve Huxtable.

Henna tattoos were very popular as was dancing with Avtar Indian Dance South West.

Among the stalls was Crediton Talking News, which is recorded for the blind and partially sighted from the "Crediton Courier", alongside a stall from the RNIB run by partially-sighted Trisha Sail, who recently appeared on the BBC television programme "Race across the World".