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Why i #LoveCov by Helen, born and bred Coventrian

21 February 2017

When people ask where I am from, I tell them.  I say Coventry.  Many people actually don’t actually know where it is.  Some people mention the blitz.  I get fed up of saying that Coventry is 20 miles south of Birmingham or 20 miles from Stratford on Avon!  Coventry is my city and I am proud of it.

 

My city has the things other cities have.  It has lovely parks, it has sports teams in national leagues, it has museums, it has shopping centres.  Those things do not set my city apart.  So when people ask me about Coventry, I tell them some of the things I love and that I am proud to be part of.

 

Coventry is the city that has two world-class universities and two stunning cathedrals.  This is the city that puts on  the Godiva Festival each year bringing the people of Coventry together but also hosting and entertaining thousands of visitors for free!  Not every city can boast that.

 

This is the city that brings theatre to our doorsteps through The Belgrade and The Warwick Arts Centre but, even more importantly, this is the city that brings creative performance very affordably to the masses through the country’s first professional shop front theatre run by Theatre Absolute in a former chip shop, EGO Performance based in a former warehouse in the city centre and the Albany and Criterion theatres. I have accessed stunning and thought-provoking performances for not much more than the price of a pint!  This sets Coventry apart.

 

This is the city that now rejuvenated Far Gosford Street and has given us the new Fargo arts village which now provides an outlet for makers, artists and small traders.  Coventry was renowned throughout the world for its motor, tractor and aerospace industries.  It was these industries that provided for my extended family in years gone by and continue to provide for mine.  Although now depleted, these industries are still celebrated in part at the Coventry Motor Museum and through the annual Motorfest which just seems to get better year-on-year and is also given to the citizens of Coventry and thousands of visitors for free!

 

I volunteer in this city.  I have stood on street corners in pouring rain encouraging runners in events, I have helped to welcome young people from other nations for the International Childrens’ Games, I have interviewed the volunteer Gamesmakers for the 2012 Olympics and every week I coach young people in athletics.  I have met hundreds of people of all ages this way and I know that we are all proud to live here.  There are so many people that also share my enthusiasm for this city.

 

Coventry hasn’t had an easy ride.  My city has suffered more than most through war and the decline of manufacturing but it is these very things that have made the city what it is now.  Our post-war architecture may not be to everyones’ taste but it tells the story of this place.  We can be so proud of the influence of Two-Tone music and the way it sought to defuse racial tension;  my city led the way.

 

Of course I am proud of all of these things and the people that share this city with me.  Far from Coventry just being a grey city in the Midlands somewhere south of Birmingham, it is home to people who see it as an innovative and exciting place to live and work and are driven to create opportunities for visitors and people like me to be entertained and educated.  It is a place that knows how to host visitors; it is a city that has risen to the challenge of reinventing itself more than once; it is a city that welcomes diversity.  Three of my four grandparents were Coventry born and raised and their parents before them too.  I guess it is fair to say that I am a Coventrian by birth but there are also many thousands of people who have adopted this city and now call it their home.  Coventry is our city and it deserves to be celebrated.  Coventry deserves to be awarded City of Culture.

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