Author Archive

Review of the Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary Celebration Festival

at Ye Olde Hob Inn, Bamber Bridge, Sat 24th June, 12 noon – 8pm

By Bernie Velvick, Preston Black History Group, Photos by Tony Maiden, Preston Black History Group.

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events.


Crowds joined us for a day of themed celebration to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Bamber Bridge. The battle was one of the most significant racial disputes of its type in the country. Researching and remembering the events of 24th June 1943 have been ongoing and this was a chance for people to learn more about the history.

In co-operation with Preston Black History Group, UCLAN, the US Embassy, and South Ribble Borough Council, the event took place outside Ye Olde Hob Inn and included themed entertainment – music and dance, military vehicles, food and drink and children’s activities, and a history walk following the route of the battle back in 1943.

The event began on the stage with introductory speeches from Chris Lomax, Mayor of South Ribble, Prof Alan Rice from UCLAN IBAR (Institute for Black Atlantic Research), Prof StJohn Crean, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, UCLAN, Clinton Smith, Chair of Preston Black History Group and Aaron Snipe, Spokesperson for the US Embassy. 

You can hear the speeches here. Well worth a listen as they includes a great deal of information and context to the event.





Speeches At the beginning of the Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary event at Ye Olde Hob Inn, Bamber Bridge 24th June 2023


All afternoon we enjoyed music and dance from the 1940s while the audience explored the military vehicles from the era and viewed Danny Lyon’s documentary ‘Community Memories of the Battle of Bamber Bridge’ that was shown in Ye Olde Hob Inn throughout the day. Danny is a ‘Brigger’ (Bamber Bridge resident), film maker, sculptor and local historian.

Danny Lyons with Mayoress Kim Lomax and Mayor Chris Lomax

At 2pm Prof Alan Rice, Danny Lyons and Clinton Smith led a history walk along the Main Street, Station Rd, Bamber Bridge, from ‘the Hob’ to the site of the 1940s 1511 Quartermasters Regiment US Army base on Mounsey Rd. Alan, Danny, and Clinton shared the story of the battle with a fascinated audience. Alan described the events that started at 10pm on 24th June 1943, lasting for over four hours and resulting in over 400 bullets being fired. There is still one remaining original building left on the site of the camp on Mounsey Rd which belongs to the the Royal Airforce Air Cadets and is currently under renovation.

We would like to thank the Lancashire Constabulary South Division Cadets, and the cadet leader, Diane Baldwin, who acted as marshals and helped keep everyone safe along the route.

You can listen to recordings of the History Walk, recorded the following day on 25th June 2023.

Preston Black History Group and UCLAN film and media students collaborated on a video recording of the commemoration events and interviewed many of the main participants of the day. This recording along with recordings of other events from the weekend will be made into a documentary about the commemoration. Thank you to the students and lecturers who gave their time and expertise to help us make this possible

UCLAN Film and Media students interview Aaron Snipe US Embassy Spokesperson

Bernie Velvick from Preston Black History Group recorded interviews with many of the partners and participants – you can listen to the recordings here.





Ros Martin, British playwright, poet, performance artist, curator and activist, based in Bristol






Aaron Snipe, US Embassy Spokesperson






Jemma Rodgers, Producer of ‘The Railway Children Return’ Film






Prof Alan Rice, UCLAN, IBAR






Sarah Locke, Landlady of Ye Olde Hob Inn


The lovely sunny Lancashire weather ensured a great turn out of local people and local history enthusiasts to continue the exploration of the important events during the battle and the events that led up to them.


Prior to the commemoration weekend Clinton Smith, Gregory Cooke, filmmaker and educator who has made a documentary about Black US Servicemen, Danny Lyons and Prof Alan Rice were interviewed by NPR, the US public radio network. You can listen to the broadcast here.

https://www.npr.org/2023/06/21/1183045605/black-army-soldiers-england-wwii-battle

The story was picked up by US media, ABC news and the Washington Post, amongst others, who published the following coverage that takes the story forward. We hope that Private William Crossland’s Niece, Nancy Croslan Adkins, is successful in her call for an investigation into her uncle’s death and that this will lead to justice for the Black Servicemen who were convicted of mutiny. We hope for a reassessment of the Battle of Bamber Bridge that recognises the poor leadership from the white officers, the white MP’s harassment of black troops for minor transgressions, and the many compassionate and heroic acts of the black servicemen during the battle which will put their contribution to the fight against fascism in its rightful place.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uk-village-marks-80th-anniversary-fight-us-army-100352677

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/06/24/world-war-ii-black-troops-bamber-bridge/d2fb1bac-125d-11ee-8d22-5f65b2e2f6ad_story.html


Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events



Review of the Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary Commemorative Event

IBAR (Institute for Black Atlantic Research), UCLAN. Friday 23rd June 2023

By Bernie Velvick, Preston Black History Group, Photos by Tony Maiden, Preston Black History Group.

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events.


In June 1943, African American troops based at Bamber Bridge mutinied against the Jim Crow segregation conditions imposed in the European theatre. They found support from local residents. This international symposium was part of a commemorative weekend of events for the 80th anniversary of the mutiny on 23-25 June 2023, and stems from a project honouring their joint fight against racism in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States, Ministry of Defence, the US Defense Department, South Ribble Borough Council, Studio Canal and Preston Black History Group.

Thanks to Studio Canal for allowing us to show the film in Bamber Bridge on Thursday 22nd June. Review here

The commemorative event took place at the University of Central Lancashire Fylde Road Preston PR1 2HE

The speakers for the symposium, left to right, Aaron Snipe (Spokesperson for US Embassy), Prof Gary Younge (Keynote Speaker, Guardian Journalist, University of Manchester), Clinton Smith (Chair Preston Black History Group), Prof Alan Rice UCLAN, IBAR), Councillor Chris Lomax (Mayor of South Ribble), Jemma Rodgers (producer ‘Railway Children Return’)

Opening by Aaron Snipe, Spokesperson of the American Embassy. Aaron explained why the story of the Battle of Bamber Bridge resonates with him, personally, and told us about hearing stories from his Grandparents of their experiences of segregation and racism in an American Army base in the US South. He heard about the story of Bamber Bridge through Jemma Rodgers film ‘Railway Children Return’ and came up to visit in Nov 2022. He immediately ‘got’ why we all feel this is an important story to retell.

Aaron Snipe (Spokesperson, US Embassy)

Welcome and intro talk by Professor Alan Rice. Alan has been researching the facts of the battle for many years and related the information he has found from the original US Court Martial transcripts from 1943. Notably, the description of the uniform of a white MP being splattered with beer taking more space than the tragic death of Private William Crossland, and the description of the Black US Troops as being ‘hysterical’ when a group of Black US Servicemen, during the battle, rescued and took an injured White US Soldier to a nearby hospital. Not the actions of ‘hysterical’ men.

Prof Alan Rice (UCLAN, IBAR)

Short talks by Chris Lomax, Mayor of South Ribble, who described first hearing the story as a child in Bamber Bridge as if it was almost a ghost story. Finding out the facts after he became a politician in South Ribble (which Bamber Bridge is part of) prompted his commitment to the installation last year of a permanent memorial and garden outside Ye Olde Hob Inn in Bamber Bridge where the events in 1943 began.

Councillor Chris Lomax (Mayor of South Ribble)

Clinton Smith, Chair of Preston Black History Group, told us of his four-decade long relationship with this story after noticing what he first described as “very large termite holes” in a building at the corner of Station Rd and Mounsey Rd (where the US Camp was situated) in Bamber Bridge. “Nay lad! Those are bullet holes from the Battle of Bamber Bridge” explained his companion. The story haunted him for years and wouldn’t let him rest without bringing the facts to a wider audience and working to complete the jigsaw through talking to local people and working with Prof Alan Rice.

Clinton Smith (PBHG) entertains us with his anecdotes

Jemma Rodgers, Producer of the ‘Railway Children Return’. Jemma told us of her journey of discovery in melding the true events into a fictional updating of the story of the Railway Children by E Nesbit. The film is set in Yorkshire during WW2, where a group of young children evacuated to a small village encounter a young African American soldier (Abe) who, like them, is far away from his home. The film is based loosely on the real-life incident in Bamber Bridge in 1943 which left one soldier dead.

Review of the BBB 80th film showing here

Jemma Rodgers (producer ‘Railway Children Return’)

Danny Lyons, Director, ‘Community Memories of the Battle of Bamber Bridge’. Danny heard his Grandparents stories of the events 1943 and vowed to find out more. He collected interviews with eye witnesses, Bamber Bridge people (Briggers), some of whom are no longer with us. His film was shown in the ‘Hob’ during the day long festival on 24th June organized by South Ribble Borough Council with their partners PBHG and UCLAN

Prof Alan Rice listens to Danny Lyons (Brigger and director ‘Community Memories of the Battle of Bamber Bridge’)

Keynote talk by Guardian journalist, author and academic Professor Gary Younge, University of Manchester who has just won The Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023. Gary gave us a much-needed context for the events in Bamber Bridge, his academic research on the experiences of Black US troops in Europe during WW2 has yielded many instances of fellowship between working people and Black US troops in many European Countries. But the relationships are complex. He showed us photos from the liberation of Paris which was largely accomplished by Black troops – the Black troops were ‘hidden’ by the white authorities and only one Black Resistance fighter can be seen in the press photos from that time. Gary explained that although ordinary people responded well to the Black Troops, the racism of European Colonialism was akin to that of the US Jim Crowe laws and segregation. The current racism of the US and the UK are just different dialects of the same prejudice.

Prof Gary Younge (Guardian Journalist, University of Manchester) with Prof Alan Rice
Prof Gary Younge shows us some of the best photobombing ever!

Q&A chaired by Professor Alan Rice

Ros Martin (writer, artist (pavement chalking) and archivist of black and working class histories) asks Gary Younge a question. With Sylius Toussaint and Bernie Velvick from PBHG

Screening of ‘Invisible Warriors’ documentary by Gregory Cooke. Gregory showed us a photo of his mother who was a ‘war worker’ in Washington DC. She travelled from her home in the South of the US, and, along with 600,000 other Black women, took the place of a male worker who went to fight in the war. Black women workers often took on the heaviest and most dangerous work – in gunpowder production and other heavy industries. They also faced racism on a daily basis. These women’s contribution to the ‘war effort’ has been largely forgotten. Gregory’s film allowed us to hear their testimonies in their own voices.

Prof Gregory Cooke shows us a picture of his mother.

Q&A with Gregory Cooke and Professor Alan Rice

The whole event culminated in a reception at the rooftop terrace of UCLAN’s new Student Centre where ther were many passionate conversations continuing to explore the issues raised by the symposium.

Symposium speakers with members of PBHG and other audience members

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events.



Jemma Rodgers, producer of 'the Railway Children Return'

Review of ‘Railway Children Return’


Film Screening for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Bamber bridge, Thurs 22nd June 2023

By Bernie Velvick, Preston Black History Group, photos by Tony Maiden and Bernie Velvick, Preston Black History Group.

Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events


We kicked off our weekend of commemoration of the anniversary on Thursday evening 22nd June 2023 at the Bamber Bridge Methodist Church with a free showing of the film from 2022, ‘The Railway Children Return’. We had a small but very appreciative audience comprised of Bamber Bridge residents (Briggers), Local History enthusiasts and members of Preston Black History Group (PBHG).

We were delighted to have the film’s producer, Jemma Rodgers, who, with Clinton Smith, chair of PBHG, introduced the film and shared the fascinating journey of how this film helped spread the word about the events in June 1943 in Bamber Bridge. Jemma told us of her journey of discovery in melding the true events into a fictional updating of the story of the Railway Children by E Nesbit. She shared her conviction that the story she wanted to tell was in the spirit of the original story from 1905 that also includes an element of political awareness. She expressed her relief that both Studio Canal, who helped her make the film, and Jenny Agutter, the actress who played the main character of ‘Bobbie’ in the 1970 film adaptation and who plays the Grandmother of one of the children in the ‘Railway Children Return’ both shared her excitement in telling this new story.

Jemma Rodgers, the Railway Children Return producer relates her journey in creating the film

Jemma consulted Prof Alan Rice from UCLAN, IBAR (Institute for Black Atlantic Research) and MIDEX (The UCLan Research Centre for Migration, Diaspora and Exile) to make sure she had the facts correct and made us all laugh when she related her nervousness at the first showing of the film to Alan and Clinton, both of whom were ‘blown away’ by the way this film carries such an important and sensitive story in a way that is suitable for children.

This film is set in Yorkshire during WW2, where a group of young children evacuated to a small village encounter a young African American soldier (Abe) who, like them, is far away from his home. The film is based loosely on the real-life incident in Bamber Bridge in 1943 which left one soldier dead.

Our audiences’ older members enjoyed all the ‘wartime’ aspects of the film with much mirth but there were also teary eyes at times. Rev Karen Le Mouton from Bamber Bridge Methodists shared in an interview with PBHG how much Jemma’s introduction deepened her appreciation of the film and the story being told. Eunice Evans, the niece of Eunice Byers, aged 106 – the last known witness of the Battle of Bamber Bridge – came to see the film with her Grand daughter. She told us how the film helped her talk about events during WW2 with the 8 year old youngster. You can listen to the interviews with Jemma, Karen and Eunice below.

The film was reviewed in the Daily Mail in 2022 which caught the attention of Aaron Snipe, spokesperson for the American Embassy in London. Aaron visited Bamber Bridge in November 2022 and pledged his support to PBHG, UCLAN and South Ribble Borough Council which has all helped us get the story of the events in Bamber Bridge in 1943 out into the wider world.

Thanks to Jemma Rodgers and Studio Canal for allowing us to show the film. And thanks to Bamber Bridge Methodist Church for hosting the event.

Bernie Velvick from Preston Black History Group interviewed partners and participants from the weekend of commemoration.





Jemma Rodgers, Producer of ‘The Railway Children Return’ Film






Rev Karen Le Mouton, Minister at Bamber Bridge Methodists Church






Eunice Evans, ‘Brigger’ (Bamber Bridge resident), niece of Eunice Byers (aged 106, last known witness of the Battle of Bamber Bridge)


Visit our Battle of Bamber Bridge webpage to find coverage of the rest of the anniversary weekend events



Review of Windrush Play ‘Streets Paved With Gold’, a one-man play written and performed by Victor Richards.

On a warm evening on 21st June, 2023 we gathered at the UCLAN Media Centre in Preston for a performance of Victor Richards’ play ‘Streets Paved With Gold’ organized by Preston Black History Group to commemorate the Windrush 75th anniversary.

It was a full house in the small theatre in the Media Centre, including many members of Preston’s African Caribbean community as well as members of Preston Historical Society and other interested Preston people.

Victor decked the stage with items that resonated with the African Caribbean audience and treat us to a riveting monologue that explored the experiences of his fictional character, August Cleveland Johnson, from his life in the Caribbean, his decision to answer the call to help Britain rebuild after WW2 through the disappointing reception he received here in the UK to building a life here for himself and his family.

There were many moments of laughter and appreciation from the African Caribbean members of the audience with details that echoed their own experiences. Audience members also expressed the fact that certain moments brought tears to their eyes. There was music, ‘moves’ (as ‘August’ showed off his dance skills), beautiful dresses worn by ‘August’s’ wife in her younger days, and anecdotes through the years. The performance kept the whole audience spellbound.

Afterwards there was a lively Q&A session where all sections of the audience explored the subjects raised in the play – from confirming their own experiences to describing the similar experiences of other migrant groups in the past and also in the present.

It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking evening for all, and a fitting way to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMS Windrush in 1948.

PBHG would like to thank our partners, UCLAN, the Harris and Preston City Council for making this performance possible.


Upcoming events commemorating the important anniversaries in June 2023

Windrush 75th

Wednesday 21st June – ‘Streets Paved With Gold’ Free Windrush play by Victor Richards

at 19:00 UCLan Media Factory Kirkham Street Preston PR1 1JN

Book your free ticket on eventbrite


Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th

Thursday 22nd June – ‘Railway Children Return’ Free Film Screening

Doors open at 18.40hrs film starts at 19.00hrs

Methodist Church, Station Road. Bamber Bridge. PR5 6ED

Book your free ticket on eventbrite


Friday 23rd June – IBAR UCLAN Battle of Bamber Bridge 80th Anniversary Commemorative Event

16:00 – 20:30 University of Central Lancashire Fylde Road Preston PR1 2HE

Book your free ticket on eventbrite


Saturday 24th June – Main Celebration Festival at Ye Olde Hob Inn, 9 Church Road, Bamber Bridge, PR5 6EP

Details available on South Ribble Borough Council website


Saturday 24th June – ‘Choc’late Soldiers from the USA’ Free Film Screening

Doors open at 18.40hrs film starts at 19.00hrs

Methodist Church, Station Road. Bamber Bridge. PR5 6ED

Book your free ticket on Eventbrite


Sunday 25th June 2023 – Commemorative Service at Bamber Bridge Methodist Church

10.15 for 10.30 serviceall welcome!

Methodist Church, Station Road. Bamber Bridge. PR5 6ED


Sun 25th June – Re-walk the site of the battle up the main street in Bamber Bridge.

With commentary by Prof Alan Rice from UCLAN

1.30 from Ye Olde Hob Inn, 9 Church Rd, Bamber Bridge, PR5 6EP


poster for Streets Paved With Gold

Windrush 75: ‘Streets Paved With Gold’ – Free Windrush play written and performed by Victor Richards

Come and join us to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Windrush

Written and performed by Victor Richards. Streets Paved With Gold follows the journey of August Cleveland Johnson as he disembarks at Tilbury Docks on a grey November morning in 1948.

Follow his journey from the 1950s onwards as he explores the collective experiences of Black British citizens as well as the themes of hope, identity and change.

Wednesday 21st June 2023 at 19:00 UCLan Media Factory Kirkham Street Preston PR1 1JN

Book your free tickets https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/streets-paved-with-gold-free-windrush-play-tickets-650088009737


picture of the book 'England is My Home - Windrush lives in Lancashire'

England is my Home – Windrush lives in Lancashire

Book Event come and join us for a fascinating glimpse into the lives and journeys of 11 of Preston’s ‘Windrush Generation’

Book launch at Bamber Bridge Library

Bamber Bridge Library, Station Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston, PR5 6LA

Tuesday 14 March, 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Light refreshments provided

For more information please see our website, England Is My Home: Windrush lives In Lancashire – Event Details – Lancashire County Council

The event is free to attend. To book please contact: Alex Miller archives@lancashire.gov.uk or 01772 533039

Join the Preston Black History Group and Lancashire Libraries and Archives for the library launch of the new publication, ‘England Is My Home’: Windrush Lives In Lancashire, at Bamber Bridge Library on Tuesday 14 March 2023 (5:30pm – 7:00pm).

The project is a collaboration between the International Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), the Centre for Migration, Diaspora and Exile (MIDEX) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), who brought together the stories of members of Preston’s Caribbean community, now captured in a new book.

The book features 11 stories about the lives of women and men from the Windrush generation who came to Lancashire in the 1950s and 1960s. In each chapter they discuss their upbringing, departure from the Caribbean and arrival in Britain, social and family life in Preston, reflections on the meaning of home and belonging, challenges of finding work and accommodation. They tell of suffering and overcoming adversity and prejudice, as well as community self-organisation over the decades and how sport, religion, and workplace environments forged lasting friendships.

The launch event welcomes narrators and others from the project who will read from their stories, with an introduction from Clinton Smith, Chair of Preston Black History Group.

Copies of the book will be available to purchase on the night and will also be available to borrow from March 2023 in libraries across Lancashire.


Lola Jaye ‘The Attic Child’

BHM event presented by ‘Writing on the Wall’ Liverpool

Date: Sunday 16th October

Location: The Bluecoat, 8 School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX

Time: 11am

Price: Free Writing on the Wall and The Bluecoat invite you to a public reading which explores the intersection of children’s voices and colonial legacies across Black British history. This event celebrates the launch of Lola Jaye’s epic novel, The Attic Child, which is inspired by Ndugu M’Hali (c.1865-77), known as Kalulu. As part of the author’s visit, we will invite children to a workshop with the author, followed by a public reading.

To Book visit

There are also links to other Black History Month events on the website.


Who do we think we were? Slavery, Abolition and the Manchester Lit & Phil

This IBAR event, in conjunction with the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society, may be of interest to those of you who are in the proximity of Manchester (UK) next week on 1st June.  Booking required. Please find further information and link to book tickets at: 
https://www.manlitphil.ac.uk/events/who-do-we-think-we-were-slavery-abolition-and-manchester-lit-phil

Who do we think we were? Slavery, Abolition and the Manchester Lit & Phil | The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society About the research team. Professor Alan Rice is co-director of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) and director of the Research Centre in Migration, Diaspora and Exile (MIDEX) at UCLan. He works on interdisciplinary studies of the Black Atlantic, focusing on international and local histories of slavery and its memorialisation in literature, art, museums, galleries, and community … www.manlitphil.ac.uk

Best wishes from all at IBAR  **

Who do we think we were? Slavery, Abolition, and the Manchester Lit & Phil

Prof. Alan Rice; Dr Andrea Sillis; Drahoslava Máchová Wednesday, 1 June 2022 – 6:00pm Friends’ Meeting House

The Manchester Lit and Phil was founded in 1781, when the city’s rapidly mechanising textile industry placed it at the centre of global trade networks.  These networks were fuelled by slave-produced cotton from Caribbean and American plantations.  In view of this history, and prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, the Society commissioned research from the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) into its own links to slavery in the period 1780-1865.

The Society’s membership at that time included many influential Mancunians.  This presentation will discuss prominent members who benefited directly from wealth generated from slavery and slave-produced goods, being owners or financiers of plantations, slaves and ships.  Others profited indirectly as mill owners, merchants, architects, inventors, engineers and investors, who supplied the technology, machinery, infrastructure and financial backing for manufacturing.

However, there was also fierce opposition to slavery from across all social classes in Manchester.  Local anti-slavery campaigners played a key part in the abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and the final abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833.  The panel will present findings about Lit and Phil members’ active engagement in anti-slavery campaigning, highlighting their links with many black abolitionist speakers, including the escaped slave and orator, Frederick Douglass.

The Society’s founding members aimed to promote the advancement of knowledge and education in the natural sciences and humanities.  As such, another focus of the presentation will be on learned societies’ contributions to so-called “scientific racism,” or theoretical work that was frequently used to justify the practice of slavery.

Overall, we hope to foreground the political and intellectual complexities of this period of the Lit and Phil’s history, in which members with radically opposing views on slavery and abolition actually collaborated as friends in running the Society.

IBAR is an interdisciplinary research institute that emerged from UCLAN’s internationally renowned work in the field of African Atlantic studies.


Sunday 24th Apr – Black Panthers: Vanguard of the revolution – film showing

Preston Black History Group would like to invite you and a friend to a presentation of the documentary film The Black Panthers. A film produced by Stanley Nelson. 

Sunday 24th April 2022.  .The venue is Jalgos sports and social club. Rose Street Preston. PR1 3XY. Start time 16.00 hrs

This is the first full length documentary to explore the Black Panther party, it’s significance to the broader political and cultural awakening for black people, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: the police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, the Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party, and those who left .

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the revolution is an essential part of black history.

This is a free presentation and is supported by

Unite (The Union) N/W 0056  Bamber Bridge and Leyland branch

Please feel free to share this invitation with your family and friends