This is the borough of... Dionne

7 October 2019


My story in Brent started before I was born. It is the story of my grandparents: a nurse from Barbados and a builder from Jamaica who laid down roots, and in turn built a network of friends coming in and out of their house, which provided a soundtrack of accents - Dominican, Guyanese, Irish, Indian - to my childhood. Memories of endless people eating Caribbean food in my grandparents' dining room, running through hidden gems such as the Welsh Harp or listening to the big stars’ concerts from outside of their house in Wembley could bring insight to the day to day lives of the generations.

My parents also added to this tapestry: my mother became a teacher and studied art as part of her degree. I was often trailing after her to museums including the local Grange Museum. She filled our home with pottery pieces, pots, drums, masks, sculptures, etc that she created. Some were sold, others appreciated (or in the case of the babies in the family, were feared!).

My dad - a reggae singer, producer and TV personality - would walk the streets of Harlesden greeting peers who were starting their businesses, making connections for shows and music or entertainment projects. Many of these people still live or work in Harlesden and they have many stories to tell.

As an only child I was encouraged to express myself and dabble in all forms of the arts, from classical piano lessons to ballet, jazz and tap dancing to drama, modelling and public speaking. It was all available to me in Brent and, as I’m now discovering with my own daughter, is still available.

It was in Brent that I was taught, if you didn’t try to be part of the solution, you have no right to complain about issues affecting the community, sparking community activism for my teenage self. Teachers with stories, young activists and young artists can be found and celebrated throughout our borough.