Merton celebrates its Gypsy and Traveller heritage

Merton Council has joined forces with the Sutton and Merton Traveller Education Service to celebrate Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month 2009 with a special gathering on Tuesday 23 June.

The event at the Chaucer Centre in Canterbury Road, Morden, will include a dance and drama spectacular presented by Ambition – a group of young dancers, actors, rappers and poets which is led by a member of the Traveller community. There will also be a screening of a DVD on Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month and a display on Traveller history and culture.

Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month is an annual event, which gives people the chance to discover more about this often hidden community and the contribution it has made to Merton and the rest of the UK.

Sarah Gwynn, from the Sutton and Merton Traveller Education Service says: “Travellers have a long history in Merton and their work was very much in demand in the lavender and watercress industries around Mitcham when they first came to the area. Many descendents of Travellers are now settled in and around Mitcham and might now form almost a third of the local community.”

Merton Council’s cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Debbie Shears said: “We are committed to putting the needs of all our residents first and with Gypsy and Romany heritage having played a significant part in the development of Merton, we are pleased to support this event.

“The celebration promises to be both educational and great fun. The young people from Ambition have been working extremely hard on their dance and drama routines and I am sure the day will be a huge success.”