Flash mob pushes Fairtrade Fortnight in Sunderland

Rev Chris Howson leading the singing for the Sunderland University students Fairtrade flashmob in the Bridges.'Camilla Robinson and Nathalie Thomas in the foreground.
Rev Chris Howson leading the singing for the Sunderland University students Fairtrade flashmob in the Bridges.'Camilla Robinson and Nathalie Thomas in the foreground.
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A FLASH mob of singers descended on The Bridges to launch Fairtrade Fortnight.

The group gave customers at Esquires Coffee House a lunchtime surprise as they launched into a Fairtrade-inspired rendition of Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song.

Events are planned across the city throughout the next two weeks to celebrate Sunderland’s status as a Fairtrade City.

Sunderland Minster’s The Reverend Chris Howson organised the flash mob and said he hopes the fortnight’s festivities will be the biggest and best since the city gained Fairtrade status in 2007.

He said: “We wanted to do some bigger things this year to increase public awareness.

“I think flash mobs are a great way of encouraging the public to get involved and we wanted to celebrate Esquires, who have been really supportive of Fairtrade.

“There were only about 25 of us but it was great, loads of people started singing.

“That’s the best thing with that song, everyone knows it.”

Esquires manager Doreen Parnaby said: “Esquires Coffee Houses was the first high-street coffee franchise to offer Fairtrade espresso as standard back in 2007 and it has been leading the way ever since.

“We’re delighted to be involved in Fairtrade Fortnight.

“It’s an initiative we’ve supported for years through the products we sell.

“It’s great to be joining forces with the community here in Sunderland to raise further awareness for the cause.”

Earlier in the week, the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Iain Kay, got the programme of events under way with a speech at the University of Sunderland.

He said: “Sunderland is a Fairtrade City through a joint community effort.

“Achieving this award is due to the work of many; the council, university and college, partners, schools, businesses, retailers, churches and community groups who all work together to support Fairtrade. This fortnight we are asking people to choose Fairtrade in their weekly shop.

“There are more than 4,500 products carrying the Fairtrade Mark and many are available to buy in Sunderland.”

Rev Howson is inviting the public to join in with the final celebrations of the two weeks, the Fairtrade Fortnight Family Ceilidh.

The gathering takes place at Sunderland Minster, at 6.30pm, on Saturday, March 9, and tickets are available at the Minster.

Twitter: @sunechomark