Start of the Peace Walk (photo: Nitin Shukla)
(photo: Nitin Shukla)
Dr Hari Shukla CBE, former Director of the Tyne & Wear Racial Equality Council and member of Newcastle’s Council of Faiths, explained how the Peace Walk originated: ‘Ten years ago we established Newcastle City for Peace, the first initiative of its kind in the country. To celebrate this we decided to organise a Peace Walk with a view to inviting people both of faith and no faith to meet with us and walk for peace.
‘The walk has become an annual event. Each year the participants have congregated at the Hindu Temple, with a welcome, refreshments and prayer from the head of the Hindu community.’
People from all walks of life and religious communities were present, including faith leaders, civic dignitaries, the Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and representatives of Northumbria Police.
Anglican minister Rev Ruth Hewett commented that: ‘The Peace Walk was great this year. It was a really unique experience to walk down the West Road chatting to people from many cultures and faith backgrounds. The welcome and insight that we received from each of the worship centres was amazing.’
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness and Assistant Chief Constable David Felton (photo: Nitin Shukla)
In the Sikh Gurdwara (photo: Barbara Down)
Destinations included the Church of Venerable Bede, where as well as hearing a Christian prayer and an explanation of Christian values, participants had a chance along the way to talk and exchange views with those from different backgrounds.
The peace walkers continued to the Central Mosque where they were warmly welcomed with snacks and drinks, followed by the Imam reciting a prayer from the Koran and talking about the five pillars of Islam. Walkers then progressed to the to the site of Newcastle’s first synagogue, the Rabbi had arranged for a reading from the Book of Psalms, before reaching their final destination at the Sikh Gurdwara, where the leaders of the Sikh community welcomed everyone with sacred music and prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib.
‘The purpose of organising this event is to demonstrate to people that we are all members of one family and we work for the well-being of the total community’ said Dr Shukla. ‘We have 140 nationalities living in Tyne and Wear and we make sure that all the people who have made the North East their home feel part of the Community and have a role to play in the life of the region. We also remind ourselves that there are challenges to be tackled and they need to be tackled together because no one community can satisfactorily deal with the challenge. This is what has led to unity and peace in our region’.