Windrush 75th anniversary will be ‘last significant chance’ to honour living pioneers
The 75th anniversary of the Windrush’s arrival in England will be the ‘last significant chance’ to recognise the generation while it still has living members, a prominent campaigner has said.
Patrick Vernon OBE called for national celebrations on a par with the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II as a host of prominent figures gave their support to the milestone year.
The HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival at Tilbury docks on June 22, 1948 carrying passengers from the Caribbean invited by the UK to fill labour shortages is considered a pivotal moment in modern British history.
Delivering 802 people from the islands, the journey was part of a post-war migration wave that is credited with shoring up Britain’s workforce, playing a key role in establishing the then fledgling NHS and helping the country to become a multi-cultural society.
The Windrush 75 campaign is being kickstarted today by prominent figures including Sir Lenny Henry, MP David Lammy, historian David Olusoga and the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
For Mr Vernon, convenor of the Windrush 75 Network, this year will be the last major chance to recognise the enterprising pioneers, who include his own parents, while they are still alive.
The generation have their defining moment in the ship’s arrival but are generally considered people from the Caribbean who sought better lives in the UK between 1948 and 1971.
For the early pioneers, who in many cases were met with racism, the anniversary is one of the last chances to recognise their achievements on a national, year-long scale in their lifetime.