Months of planning, dedication, hard work and vision were realised on Saturday 5th December 2015 at The Phoenix Newspaper 5th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Bethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich. Backed by main sponsor McDonald’s, as well as Crownsway Insurance Brokers Limited, the cold day did nothing to chill the spirits of those present. The morning quiet was broken with the vibrant sounds of the Dhol Blasters heralding the arrival of HRH Nana Agyemang Nyamekye Amlak, the Aduana Head of Kwakye Dida Nsuta Ashanti in Ghana.

The ribbon was cut by His Royal Highness to officially mark the opening of PhoenExpo 2015, to the calypso music of
Jam2ma Steel Pan, with dignitaries including Her Majesty’s Representative, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Beverly Lindsay OBE OD DL, Johnson JohnRose, Satinder Kaur Taunque OBE DL, Jagjit Taunque MBE DL, Dr Anthony Vendryes, and Yvonne Mosquito.

A performance by Jonkunnu Dancers greeted the Ashanti King who officially opened the whole event with the pouring of libation. A multitude of hot and cold food stalls, information stands, health and wellbeing stalls, arts and crafts, sweet stalls and more graced the exhibitions @ PhoenExpo 2015, giving attendees an eclectic mix perfect for the whole family.

Spreading the Pattie Love in PhoenExpo 2015 was Sarah Jane Hamilton of Fenky Janes Handmade Gourmet Patties, providing her services to feed the attendees at the opening with some beautiful cocktail patties.






7Although the crowds were hampered by the West Bromwich Albion game taking place just down the road, there was a buzz as people filled out the Expo. As darkness fell, and the exhibitions drew to a close, it brought with it the red carpet and anticipation of The Phoenix Newspaper Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation Ceremony. Dignitaries, invited guests, business owners, readers and friends all gathered to attend the Gala Dinner following a red carpet drinks and canapé reception.

While the guests dined, they were treated to performances from Birmingham Community Gospel Choir, Ronald Dewit and Melika Queely, and listened to speeches from a number of invited Guest Speakers including Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE, Keith Stokes-Smith and Olusegun Dosumu.

Following the dinner was the part of the evening that everyone had been waiting for, the Awards Presentation. Everyone moved into the main auditorium, joined by those who had come just for the awards ceremony, and there was an audible buzz in the air as the Dhol Blasters returned, taking the main stage and welcoming everyone in the only way they knew how.






Following the Dhol Blasters, Gospel Central, with Mark Dwayne and Sticky Toffee Dancers produced an amazing performance that got everyone revved up and ready to go with ‘Every Praise’, setting the tone for the evening. The audience heard from the final speakers for the evening, including Satinder Kaur Taunque OBE DL, Deborah Leary OBE and Dr Anthony Vendryes, culminating with Keynote Speaker Johnson JohnRose of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

These were punctuated by performances from Camara Fearon and Lucy Tennyson, and an emotional performance by Daniel Riley, in which Marcia McLaughlin, The Phoenix Newspaper Managing Editor joined him onstage. Flame Lily Arts then proceeded to give a stunning performance which had everyone amazed by the acrobatic and energetic dances and music produced by the group.

Finally, the awards were presented to their winners, including the Managing Editors Awards. As these were awards nominated by the readers, and voted for by the readers, the surprise was evident  on all winners faces. Celebrating local and national community leaders, inspirational individuals, and exceptional skill, the awards brought all communities together, celebrating their shared successes.

The production team headed by Raph from Bethel Productions must be recognised as the best that we have in our community, and many thanks to Miss Lily’s Flowers for the beautiful decorations, and Eaglesfield in the Jewellery Quarter for getting us out of a sticky situation!