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Political figures pay homage to Windrush Generation

PICTURED: Cllr Sonia Winifred and H.E Guy Hewitt

H.E. GUY HEWITT, BARBADOS’ HIGH COMMISSIONER TO THE UK

AS BARBADOS’ first London-born High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, a product of Commonwealth migration to Britain, I am officially and personally honoured to be part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of the Empire Windrush.

The Windrush arrival should be remembered in perpetuity as the symbol of the birth of multicultural Britain.

Between 1948 and 1973, in response to the call from the ‘Mother Country’ for assistance in the rebuilding of post-war Britain, approximately 550,000 West Indians (over 10 per cent of the Commonwealth Caribbean migrants faced indescribable hostility. Some still recall the infamous Teddy Boys and the Notting Hill race riots and the signs which read, ‘No Irish, No blacks, No dogs’.

Nonetheless, they persevered and with toil, sweat and tears played an essential role in helping to build a modern, global Britain. Some of the many outstanding individuals who left the West Indies to subsequently call the UK home include nursing pioneer, Mary Seacole; broadcasters, Sir Trevor McDonald and Moira Stuart OBE; bishop, The Rt Revd Dr Wilfred Wood, KA; composer, Errollyn Wallen; footballers, the late Cyrille Regis MBE and John Barnes MBE; train guard, Asquith Xavier; academic, Professor Stuart Hall; athlete, Linford Christie OBE; actors, the late Norman Beaton, Carmen Munroe OBE and Rudolph Walker OBE; racehorse trainer, Sir Michael Stoute and the late author, Samuel “Sam” Selvon.

It is with great regret that in the year that we celebrate this milestone, the nation found itself embroiled in the Windrush Generation scandal. However, the resolution could be described as a modern-day miracle. In less than a week, a story that was for too long begging for attention became front page news and in the process won the hearts of a nation and engaged the mind of a government.

The apology, the offer of full British citizenship and an offer of compensation are much appreciated and reflect the spirit of the Commonwealth to work as a family and to uphold fundamental human rights.

However, there is a wider issue. As we gather to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush, 50 years on from Enoch Powell’s odious Rivers of Blood speech and 25 years on from the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the incontrovertible truth is that Britain appears ill-at-ease with matters of race and migration.

Perhaps the celebration of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury, will provide the opportunity to bring this multicultural society together and begin the process of having a truly United Kingdom.


H.E SETH GEORGE RAMOCAN, HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR JAMAICA

I warmly greet readers of this Windrush 70 souvenir issue of The Voice for affording me
this opportunity to join in highlighting through this medium, the 70th anniversary of the docking on June 22, 1948, of the SS Empire Windrush at Tilbury.

The arrival of close to 500 Caribbean migrants, who came, settled and provided well-needed labour to assist in the rebuilding efforts of Great Britain after the Second World War, was a defining moment in the history of a multicultural post-war Britain. This ought to be appropriately recognised and celebrated.

The commemoration of this important milestone fittingly coincides with the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Nurses Association, UK, which are important links between Caribbean nurses and their contribution to the development of British society.

It is well known that many of the Caribbean nationals that arrived on the Empire Windrush were employed to the edging National Health Service and were known to provide high quality healthcare.

On this important occasion, I am reminded of the strength, determination and resilience of the Windrush Generation and their descendants, who struggled against the odds and triumphed over adversity to play a pivotal role in helping to shape modern British society. Their influence can be felt across various fields such as business, education, entertainment, health, politics and religion.

The Notting Hill Carnival for example highlights the cross-cutting in uence of persons such as the late Sam B. King, MBE, Jamaican Windrush pioneer, who was not only instrumental in paving the way for Britain’s first multicultural festival, but was a community activist and politician who became the first black mayor of the borough of Southwark.

It is indeed regrettable that despite their valuable contribution to Britain’s development, many immigrants from the Windrush Generation have been subjected to humiliation, embarrassment and injustice due to existing UK immigration laws.

We are pleased that relevant actions are being taken following the call by CARICOM Heads of Government during the recently held 2018 CHOGM. We hope that the crisis will be addressed speedily, thoroughly, decisively and fairly so that the victims of these grave injustices can feel a sense of hope and security and that their dignity has been restored.

Finally, I commend The Voice for its role in promoting understanding and preserving the important memories of the Windrush Generation. I also encourage readers to attend and support the various activities which have been organised across the UK to mark this milestone.


CLLR LIB PECK, LEADER LAMBETH COUNCIL AND SONIA WINIFRED, CABINET MEMBER EQUALITIES

Lambeth has been a constant and significant backdrop to the Windrush story. It was where the majority of the passengers from the Caribbean headed when they disembarked the MV Windrush at the Port of Tilbury 70 years ago.

Many settled in the borough, building businesses, bringing up families and creating the borough we have today - proud of its diversity, tolerance and openness.

Lambeth Town Hall has played its part too and we are delighted that after extensive refurbishment it was reopened in January this year and will be the venue for a number of Windrush70 events including a tea party for older residents on June 22nd, a special performance by the Phoenix Dance Theatre and an exhibition of Harry Jacobs's photographs.

Music played in the Town Hall found new and enthusiastic audiences and became firmly entrenched in Britain's cultural heritage. The Town Hall was where the famous No Colour Bar Dance was held in 1955 and this year it was where we were delighted to welcome Communities Minister Lord Bourne to the launch of the Windrush70 logo and website designed by young people from the Brixton based social enterprise Champion Design.

There is a fantastic range of events taking place around the country to mark this special anniversary and organising those events has brought people and communities together. What's been most inspiring in Lambeth is the inter-generational mix that has brought Young Lambeth Coop working alongside the Windrush Foundation and others on a series of workshops, talks and of course the Windrush70 dominoes tournament in Windrush Square.

The shared enthusiasm, the thirst for knowledge and understanding about the Windrush Generation and the massive impact on Britain breaks down any age barriers. More importantly, the involvement of young people means that 2018 doesn't just commemorate history, it keeps the legacy alive and creates new memories, new histories and heritage to share.

Lambeth has been and continues to be enriched by people who come and make their homes here. We are proud to have welcomed more Syrian refugee families than any other London borough and the contribution of Lambeth's Portugese, Somalian and Ethiopian communities enrich us all.

What people bring to our borough are treasures to share - knowledge, skills and experience from their lives and other lands - recipes passed down through generations, music and stories from distant childhoods, art, literature, imagination and ideas.

Windrush 70 is not just a commemoration of a long journey made by several hundred people but recognition of their legacy which has changed all our lives - culturally, socially, economically and politically. As the Windrush70 logo says, it's part of our DNA and nowhere more so than Lambeth.

Read more messages in this week's special edition of The Voice newspaper or download for free by downloading the app.

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