Leicester brought to life during tour

From the colours and sounds of a Hindu festival to the historic tales of a reinterred king, Leicester’s rich cultural tapestry was brought to life during a tour of the city.

It was organised to celebrate Leicester becoming part of the Cities Changing Diabetes programme, launched by Novo Nordisk as a response to the urgent urban Type 2 diabetes challenge.

The delegation included representatives from Novo, including Cities Changing Diabetes Director, Steffen Nielsen along with Co-Directors of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, Professors Melanie Davies CBE and Kamlesh Khunti.

The visit coincided with the start of Navratri, a Hindu celebration which takes place every autumn involving music, dance and worship – the perfect opportunity to showcase Leicester’s proud ethnical and cultural make-up.

First stop therefore was the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, a masterpiece of exquisite Indian design and workmanship based in Gipsy Lane in the north west of Leicester.

Youngsters took part Bollywood dance lessons, while seniors gathered together and were preparing for the Navratri, as the touring party were giving a snapshot into the thriving centre of worship and community hub.

The Hindu festival was in full swing at the next two destinations, two city dance halls, with all the delegates becoming part of the proceedings, attempting to join in with the traditional dances.

Having worked up a sweat and taken in the sights and sounds of Leicester’s vibrant Golden Mile – a feast of restaurants, jewellery and shops shop – a drink was earned and enjoyed at the Indian Queen, the first Indian pub to open in the UK.

Along the way the party passed a string of old textile factories, reminders of a former thriving industry once the focal point of the city.

Past the John Lewis store, the iconic figurehead of the Highcross shopping centre, the delegation then went into the heart of the city centre to see the Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower.

They then walked through the city’s famous 700-year-old outdoor market before the final stop of the evening saw them take in the glorious sight of Leicester Cathedral lit up at night.

This Christian place of worship was also the focus of the following morning’s second instalment of the tour, with the party enjoying a guided tour and story of King Richard III and the 2012 discovery of his bones under the ‘r’ of a council car park.

They got the chance to touch his sacred tomb prominently placed at the east end of the Cathedral close to the sanctuary, the most holy place.

The morning expedition also took in a trip to the 2015-16 Premier League Champions Leicester City Football Club as well as winding through the terraced streets of Highfields, home to many ethnic minority communities.

The whistle-stop tour of the city both celebrated Leicester’s highlights, traditions and culture, while also revealing its large socio-economic spectrum, with areas of both wealth and severe deprivation.

Director of Cities Changing Diabetes Steffen Nielsen said:

“It was a really great experience being in Leicester, the people were very friendly and nice. I like Leicester.
“I have been to many diabetes centres, but Leicester is impressive, it’s forward thinking with both primary and secondary care in place, which is a model for any diabetes centre in the world.
“When it came to the table that Leicester Diabetes Centre wanted to be part of Cities Changing Diabetes it didn’t take a lot of thinking. Leicester is not a big city like Mexico City or Shanghai but it is forward thinking and innovative. It’s great to have Leicester part of the programme.” 
Shehnaz Jamal