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'Pilgrims' sailing on to 2020

Representatives from Boston attended an international gathering in London as part of growing support for a global celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Father's Mayflower voyage to America.

Although the main celebration will not be until 2020 - the 400th year since the history-changing event - Boston began marking the build-up last Christmas.

The spectacular Illuminate event presented by Transported Arts in the town centre was part of the borough council's Christmas lights switch-on event. It highlighted Boston's connection with the Pilgrim Fathers and the exodus to America and the founding of Boston, Massachusetts.

This year Transported will again present a Christmas Mayflower 400 event in Boston on Thursday, November 24.

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The event in London included partners from the United States of America, the Netherlands and the UK and was hosted by the American Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, at Winfield House, his private residence, in partnership with Adrian Vinken OBE, Chairman of Mayflower 400 UK, and Ronald Freeman, Chairman of The Pilgrims.

The reception was attended by more than 400 association representatives, businesses leaders, community members, travel industry professionals and senior Government officials. Attending from Boston were Cllr Peter Bedford, Leader of Boston Borough Council, Cllr Claire Rylott, portfolio holder for leisure services, Steve Lumb, the council's head of built environment and development, and Luke Skerritt, the council's museum, arts and heritage manager.

Adrian Vinken OBE, Chairman of Mayflower 400 UK, said, 'We are most grateful to the American Ambassador, Matthew Barzun, and his wife Brooke for their support of Mayflower 400 and for their generous hospitality in their beautiful home.  It was great to be able to bring together so many distinguished guests to demonstrate the increasingly wide spread of support for this important anniversary and its many exciting programmes of celebration and commemoration.  The Mayflower's journey provided the golden thread which directly links Magna Carta's principles of individual liberty of freedom under the law to the US Constitution.  It is at the very heart of the 'Special Relationship' between our two nations.'

The event was also the first official engagement for The Earl, Charles Courtenay and his wife Allison Joy Langer-Courtenay, Countess of Devon who were recently appointed as the Patrons for Mayflower 400.

Speaking at the event the Earl outlined the vision and plans for the commemoration and spoke warmly of their particular affinity with the Mayflower story through their own family connections and upbringing in Devon and California.

He said: 'It is an honour to be patrons for the Mayflower 400 Project and we look forward to involvement in many activities leading up to the 400th anniversary in 2020. Having witnessed the ambition of the Project, the breadth of communities involved, and the message of freedom and tolerance that the Mayflower story embodies, we are excited to contribute'. 

His wife said: 'It has been a wonderful evening and we are excited to be ambassadors for this important anniversary, and to support the arts and education projects it inspires. We have a deep fondness for the Thanksgiving celebration; we believe it is important to commemorate the heroic journey of the Mayflower Pilgrims and to acknowledge the freedoms that they bravely sought, which so many still seek to this day'.  

For more information on Mayflower 400 visit: www.mayflower400uk.com/

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A scale model of the Mayflower for the delight of guests at the American ambassador's London residence

Destinations involved in the commemoration include:

YORKSHIRE
Austerfield & Doncaster

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Bassetlaw
Scrooby and Babworth

LINCOLNSHIRE
Gainsborough area
Boston
Immingham

LONDON/ESSEX
Rotherhithe
Southwark
Harwich
Southend/Leigh-on-Sea 

HAMPSHIRE
Southampton

DEVON
Dartmouth
Plymouth

HOLLAND
Leiden

MASSACHUSETTS
Plymouth
Plymouth Colony,
Boston
Provincetown
Cape Cod