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Tuesday 05 June 2018

Brighton & Hove Black History: Rescued Slave Boy Remembered @ Special Ceremony

A special ceremony is being held this month at Woodvale Cemetery, Brighton, to return the gravestone of Thomas Highflyer, a 12-year-old slave boy who was rescued from a slave dhow and died in Brighton 148 years ago.

To commemorate the day, a Brighton & Hove public bus will be named after Thomas Highflyer (Bus 687). 

The bus will be used to pick up a group of schoolchildren from St Marks School, the school Thomas attended when he lived in Brighton, to take them to and from the cemetery.

Bert Williams MBE President of Brighton & Hove Black History says: 
 
"The story of his life and the unexpected discovery of his headstone is yet another piece of Brighton and Hove's hidden black heritage uncovered thanks to our team of volunteers. By restoring Tom's grave, we hope to preserve his story and legacy for generations to come." 

The activities to honour Thomas Highflyer's life have been organised by Brighton & Hove Black History, as part of a larger project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council and Woodvale Cemetery.
 
On 24 August 1866, Thomas M.S. Highflyer was rescued from a slave dhow along with two other boys by Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley of the Royal Navy's East African Anti-Slave Trade Squadron. 

He was sent to Brighton to be educated and lived at 19 Great College Street, Brighton where he lived until his premature death on 20 June 1870. 
 
Thomas's gravestone was removed in January 2018. Over the past three months, the gravestone has been restored by Tilleys Stonemasons, Brighton.

During the ceremony, the school children will lay flowers on Thomas's grave and read a poem written by Black History volunteer, writer and researcher Suchi Chatterjee. 
 
The ceremony, on Wednesday 20th June 2018, will also include a live musical performance by Mbira artist Linos Wengara Magaya, an introduction by Johnny Worthy, plus readings of sentiments from celebrities and politicians.  

by: Mike Cobley




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