Ending the year on a brighter note: the Lighthouse Educational Society Christmas dinner

By - Thursday 21st December, 2017

Goodwill to all is celebrated at this annual dinner

Photo by the Lighthouse Educational Society, used with permission.

There are a lot of good things about Croydon. Some were on display at a Christmas dinner at the Lighthouse Educational Society in Croydon, to which I was kindly invited by the society’s secretary, Parahat Akmuradov.

The Lighthouse Educational Society is a local charity that runs a tuition centre for children aged 5-15 years. It also aims to foster community cohesion through events such as a cookery club, parental consultancy and mentoring services. Its Christmas dinner is one of the ways in which it seeks to build good relationships across Croydon’s communities.

A chilly evening was warmed by the welcome at the Lighthouse premises close to Reeves Corner. Croydon’s Mayor, Councillor Toni Letts, gave a speech pointing out the long-standing contribution of the Turkish community to Croydon and the UK as a whole, and praising the work of the Lighthouse Educational Society in promoting education. She welcomed such positive action, which is particularly valuable in the uncertain and difficult times in which we live – and an example we should all seek to follow.

Local group leaders were able to share their plans for the coming year

Guests from across Croydon’s communities were able to discuss their work over an excellent dinner provided by the Lighthouse Educational Society’s volunteers. At various points, the leaders of local groups were able to share their work and plans for the coming year as well.

Sharon Kilborne, the Croydon community coordinator of the Home Office-sponsored Prevent programme, shared how the government was looking to prevent extremism and foster collaboration. She emphasised the importance of community cohesion and felt this type of event is one of the ways to bring that about.

Josi Kiss from Park Hill Garden invited contributions to the peace garden project in 2018. The garden, situated in the grounds of the original family home of the Horniman family, is well worth a visit at any time – but in 2018, community groups are being invited to contribute to this new area.

Positive about the present and hopeful for the future

The work of Stress Anxiety Communities Involvement (SACI) was shared by Gertrude Othieno. SACI was originally founded to support people suffering with anxiety, but has broadened its appeal to reach out to others such as those, particularly the elderly, who are suffering from loneliness. Their definition of mental wellbeing as feeling positive about the present, hopeful about the future, confident about having the ability to handle stresses and problems, and having an overall sense of fulfilment and reward in life sounds good to me.

This good-natured and positive event showed Croydon at its best: people getting on with their lives, getting on with one another and quietly doing their bit to make Croydon and the world a better place. This is the Croydon I recognise, and something we should be proud of. A heart-warming evening ended with thanks and smiles all round.

So it was with a spring in my step that I headed off into the cold night air and the short walk to West Croydon bus station and home. Amidst the uncertainties and negativity in the world around us, we are doing okay, Croydon. Let’s enjoy the Christmas break and look to the future with confidence and optimism.

Photo by the Lighthouse Educational Society, used with permission.

Robert Ward

Robert Ward

Engineer and project manager specialised in helping businesses make better strategic decisions and improve safety, quality and effectiveness. Conservative Party Councillor representing Selsdon and Addington Village on Croydon Council. He tweets as @moguloilman.

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