More than 8,000 people flock to annual Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade in Willesden

The borough was transformed into a sea of green, white and gold

Willesden was transformed into a sea of green, white and gold on Saturday as thousands flocked to the borough to watch the annual Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade.

Wearing shamrocks, hats and waving flags, more than 8,000 revellers lined the High Road as they cheered the procession on and were treated to a spectacular display of floats including children from Newman Catholic College who wowed the crowd in their costumes.

The parade was brought alive by the sounds of the Birmingham Irish Pipes and Drums band and Dublin City All Star Marching Band in what was the biggest parade to mark the occasion in recent years.

At Willesden Green Library Centre there was outdoor live music and dance, a funfair, and lots of activities to keep children busy.

This is the last year Brent Council will fund the popular festival due to cuts in its budget.

However, a new group called Brent St Patrick’s Day Festival Committee has been set up which will take over the future management of the parade.

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The committee is made up of new chairman Tony Antoniou MBE, who owns Hairways in the High Road, secretary Christina Connelly, from Brent Irish Advisory Service (BIAS), treasurer Michael Kearney and Anne Geaghan from the Irish World newspaper.

Mr Kearney, who is originally from County Meath but has lived in Brent for 38 years, said: “The St Patrick’s Day parade is very important to the people of Brent. For 16 years it has been celebrated in the borough by people who live in Brent and the surrounding areas.

“We will begin fundraising for next year’s event and we hope lots of people will support it so it can continue in the future.”

Mr Antoniou said: “It was a fantastic day with more than 8,000 people turning up. Our main concern is the community and we will do our best to keep this wonderful festival going in the future.

“The St Patrick’s Day Parade always brings such happiness to the community so to be able to keep this going

Twinned with South Dublin County Council, Brent has the largest Irish community in London.

Cll Aslam Choudry, mayor of Brent, said: “Despite the rain, this was a wonderful display of colour and community spirit. Seeing lots of people of different nationalites come together and celebrate the occasion was very pleasing.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the performances especially the young people in the Dublin City All Star Marching Band.”