A full-size traditional Gypsy wagon created by young people in Salford has won a top international award.
The 12 feet long (3.6 metre) ‘vardo’ took two years to complete and was built by young travellers and non-travellers from Salford who joined together with a local traveller craftsman to learn the traditional skills involved in wagon making.
It has won third prize in the Dosta! Congress Prize for Municipalities which is awarded every two or three years across Europe for innovative and creative initiatives around Roma and Traveller communities.
The project was started by Salford City Council’s ethnic minority and traveller achievement service, which secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and curated a Gypsy and Traveller educational display and resource pack to go with the wagon.
Young people learnt yabout the culture, traditions and nomadic lifestyle of Gypsy and Irish travellers and explored the impact and importance of culture and heritage on self-esteem and identity.
Councillor Jim Cammell, lead member for children’s and young people’s services, said it was fitting recognition for an incredible project.
“Traditional vardos are true works of art. They are treasured for their beauty, cultural significance and all the skills and hard work that goes into creating them,” he said.
“The Salford wagon is stunning and has proved a fantastic teaching aide and talking point for people to learn more about Roma and Traveller culture. Everyone who worked on it should be very, very proud of their achievement and of winning this prestigious award.”
Councillor John Warmisham, who visited Strasbourg as a member of the UK Delegation to the European Congress and the rapporteur on Gypsy Roma Traveller issues, accepted the award and added: “Not many young people can say they have built a traditional wagon and won international recognition for doing so. It is an amazing achievement.
“Young people from a range of backgrounds built and decorated the wagon with traditional furnishings and painting. They worked during art classes in school and after school and at weekends. They gained Duke of Edinburgh awards and volunteering accreditation for their work on the vardo which cost £50,000 to build and was completed in 2019.”