THE first local ambassadors for Southampton’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 have been unveiled.

They are Jayanti Shah MBE, Kristianne Drake, Lynda Walton, Larry Kazingizi, and Gus Mckechnie.

The local ambassadors - more are set to be announced, will be drawn from different parts of the city, representing the diverse voices and cultures from across Southampton.

They join with the bid’s internationally known ambassadors including Craig David, Shelina Permalloo, Bill Woodrow, Charlotte Edwards CBE, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Ed Vaizey, Jenny Packham, Kate Prince MBE Lawrie McMenemy MBE and Zakir Hussain.

Jayanti moved to Southampton in 1968 and has for decades devoted his spare time to fighting racism.

He has held prominent positions with the Southampton Race Equality Council and contributed to the work of the city's race sub-committee.

He is a director of Positive Message Ltd, and has been a leading figure in the success of Black History Month for over 15 years.

Jayanti said: “Winning the UK City of Culture 2025 will bring with it many benefits and opportunities, Southampton deserves to win as the diverse range of culture in our city is clear to see.

“Southampton was an entry port for all international travellers including cruise ships, including ships which came from Caribbean in 1950s, so Southampton has been a staging post for people coming from around the world.

"That brings with it its challenges but also brings with it the richness of cultural, richness of food, richness of life, richness of religious practices and traditions.”

Kristianne Drake has contributed to creative institutions and events throughout the city.

She works with Artworks, and is a co-director for In-Focus, offering creative education programmes for young people.

In 2015, they started ‘DIY Southampton’, an event hosted at Planet Sounds showcasing a vast mix of music, poetry, art and performances.

“Everything about DIY Southampton tells me about how generous the people of this city are. There’s no funding involved in it, I feel absolutely humbled by it," she said.

“When I think of culture in Southampton, there’s house shows, poetry, mosaics on walls, skateboarders in Guildhall Square, big gigs in tiny little spaces, artisan bakers, small exhibition spaces with work made by young people and the community hanging on the walls. There’s just so much."

See Jayanti's and Kristianne's videos through the links in this story.

Over the coming weeks, the bid team will be sharing more videos and interviews from the first wave of local ambassadors including Lynda Walton, Larry Kazingizi and Gus Mckechnie.

All our ambassadors can be found at:

To find out more about Southampton’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 visit