Bedford Romanians celebrate national day in town centre

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Crowd in Harpur Square Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities event 1 December 2023
The crowd in Harpur Square Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities event. Image: Queen’s Park Community Organisation

A flurry of Romanians ignored the cold weather and joined a celebration of their national day in Bedford last week (1 December).

For Romanians, the Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities is a national holiday that symbolizes the unity of the Romanian people and the realization of their national aspirations.

It is a day of reflection, pride, and celebration of the shared history and identity of the Romanian nation.

During the event organised by Queen’s Park Community Organisation (QPCO), the Romanian flag was raised at 6pm at the old Town Hall watched by an eager crowd which had been gathering in the Harpur suite.

A trio of musicians in the shape of George who plays the saxophone, Emilian plays the accordion, and Vasile plays the drum were on hand to entertain everyone by playing some classic tunes.

The Harpur square was filled with people joining the ‘Folclor Event Group’ to dance the traditional dance for this occasion called ‘Hora Unirii’.

It was a beautiful spectacle to see so many people with the outdoor lights and the Christmas tree in the square dancing away without thinking of the time and weather.

A group of 20 young people of Romanian heritage who attend Bedford Academy have also been working with Queen’s Park community organisation to perform at the event.

They instantly lit the room with their enthusiasm and passion and people joined them into their dancing.

BASTLIE (Bedford Academy Students Tackling Loneliness in Everyone) also helped us deliver free children’s activities.

The Folclor Event Group are professional dancers who delivered some breathtaking performances. The dances are an art form of their own with fast and furious with some very quick steps.

Traditions and heritage

The Lord Lieutenant Susan Lousada said: “It was lovely to be with the Romanian community of Bedford and to join with them as they celebrated Great Union day.

“I loved the traditional dancing and singing, and it was a pleasure to be included in this vibrant and joyous evening. 

“Thank you, Marie-Ange,  Eric and the staff members of Queens Park community organisation for hosting this brilliant event which recognised and honoured the traditions and heritage of Romania wonderfully.”

The Mayor of Bedford also sent his thanks for inviting him to attend the Romania National Day last Friday, which he very much enjoyed, thank you.

As part of QPCO capacity-building project, the team has been working with the Romanian community for just under a year.  

We meet on Saturday morning at the Faraday Centre, in the Caudwell area, between 10 to 12pm. Anyone who wants to join the group can just turn up, no need to book. Lights refreshments and a variety of group-led activities are provided.

  • The Trio of Musicians who performed in the Harpur Suite for the Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities event 1 December 2023. Image: Queen’s Park Community Organisation
  • Folclor Event Group dancers in Harpur Suite on the Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities event 2023 Image: Queen’s Park Community Organisation
  • Bedford Romanians in Harpur Suite Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities 2023. Image: Queen’s Park Community Organisation
  • Bedford Academy students performing in the Harpur Suite on the Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities 2023 . Image: Queen’s Park Community Organisation
  • Crowd in Harpur Square Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities event 1 December 2023

Rebeca Fratila, a Romanian volunteer for QPCO who led the group on Saturday morning said: “For a first-time event, there was such a good turnout.

“Thank you Bedford for having us. The event showcased our traditional food and our special dance. We hope this is the first of many events that we organise.”

A key part of our work is to support individuals and communities at the grassroots level to decide what they would like to see happening in their communities and be heard.

We aim to develop active participants and community leaders to engage with each other and the wider services in Bedford. To support communities to self-organise joint events, as well as support each other’s activities. 

You can find out more about our work here.

This event is also part of the ‘Back to our roots’ program funded by the National Lottery community fund. We campaigned last year and obtained some funding to deliver this project.

A big thank you to Bedford Borough Council for also funding this event as well as everyone who was involved.

Words by:
Marie-Ange Comerford-Raillon,
Director,
Queen’s Park Community Organisation