Less than a month to go until our Windows week. This week young people and artists, Yemisi and Tony, will be curating archive images of Laurie Cunningham with Dermot ready to display. Special guests are being lined up for events across the week as the story grows...
Steps Ahead is in full swing.
Launched last Thursday with an extraordinary evening shared with Cyrille Regis - Laurie's teammate, Keith Cunningham - Laurie's brother, Nicky Brown - Laurie's partner - the local community in Archway have been dropping by adding stories and memories (if they're old enough) and learning about a local hero for the first time (if they're a little younger). Learning that the smiles this week of events is bringing to everyone reflect what Laurie inspired while he was alive - through his love of and skill at football, music and dancing. A true local-born legend.
Steps Ahead provided a space for memories, conversations and passions to be talked about and shared across generations, - its culmination in the Windows week stepped up to a whole other level, drawing in friends, family, local people, media, biographers, filmmakers and campaigning organisations - bringing everyone together to talk passionately about memories and live issues. As an arts organisation we found ourselves providing a focal point for a wide variety of stakeholders in Laurie's story -those learning about him for the first time; parents sharing stories with their children; Laurie's friends and family meeting for the first time in decades, and seeing their loved one celebrated in a way they had wanted and needed for many years. The exhibition and events provided a platform for his former teammates, Cyrille Regis MBE and Brendon Batson MBE - still active in football and national campaigns such as Kick it Out - to raise awareness of both issues in football and the importance of Laurie Cunningham's career in changing attitudes in football, especially around racism. The young men involved in the project were able to meet and talk to role models - former professional football stars and sports journalists working in the media today. Dermot Kavanagh's sense that this story of a local born hero needed to be shared with a wider audience, that it needed to be valued more and its profile raised could not have been more clearly demonstrated, and the project has played its part in spurring those who the story belongs to - Laurie's friends and family - to make the case for a bigger and more permanent legacy.
"Thank you so much for this event. We'll always remember Laurie and hope very much that there will be a permanent foundation in his memory. Well done to all." (Tony Samuel)
"I remember growing up watching Laurie play from his Orient days to the very end of Madrid. A player who was ahead of his time. Thank you for this and keeping the memory alive." (Jalal Miah)
"I remember Lauire very well, especially playing against him as a youth in the old South East Counties League. Laurie played for Leyton Orient with my, still, friend Stanley White, and I played for West Ham. We'd have great battles three or four times per season. Also we used to rave at the same clubs such as at Manor House, Crackers etc. A great player and all recognition well deserved." (Winston McLeod)