24 hours after The Preston Passion was broadcast live on BBC1, people are still connecting in all manner of ways to discuss their feelings about the event and (for the most part) exude their pride in the city.
As a main attraction in this year’s Preston Guild celebrations, most people would probably agree that watching Fearn Britton explain our unique history and tradition to the rest of the country was the moment that really kicked off the 2012 Guild year.
Much like the modern adaptations of Jesus’ suffering that held our attention on screen and set the tone for the rest of the show, so too The Preston Passion will set the tone for the rest of the Guild year. People tweeting and commenting on our blog have judged the event’s success in a variety of ways, morally, religiously and politically, but I believe what it demonstrated most was a sense of community spirit.
Singers and dancers from around the city and further afield had been practicing for weeks, and as the BBC entered town last week, it brought a new energy to a too often neglected city with plenty to offer. As a Prestonian, I was privileged to be given the opportunity to provide on the ground coverage for Preston’s foremost local news site during such a high profile event in Preston’s Guild line up. Arriving at the bus station in the morning, I was struck by the scale of the transformation to my hometown.
Mingling amongst the performers and the crew before the event, and then talking to some of the audience members afterwards, I was able to gage the general feeling – and I was slightly surprised. Almost every person I spoke to used the word “community” when summing up preparations for the event, and there was a plenty of praise for the organisation by Preston Guild, Preston Council and the BBC which could never have been achieved without the cooperation of the city’s people. It was also great to see our famous bus station given a new purpose. As a Prestonian, I was most definitely proud.
The passion of the people was evident, but I wasn’t sure how people would judge reaction to The Passion. During our live blog, we asked non-religious readers what the event meant for them. Most agreed that they were proud to see people from their city, of all ages, religions and races, come together to watch or perform under the national spotlight. As an atheist myself, I respected the importance of the Passion story and it’s place in the religious calendar, but it stood out for me as a demonstration of universal themes – suffering and sacrifice – which hold particular significance for people facing problems in the world today.
Whilst The Preston Passion was truly a once in a lifetime event, it has generated pride in our city and community spirit that will hopefully last throughout the rest of this and future Preston Guild years.