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Annual Windrush Day will celebrate Caribbean contributions

COMMEMORATION: Small figurines adorn a replica of the deck of the Empire Windrush, part of the Windrush Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

A NATIONAL Windrush Day backed by new government funding will take place on June 22 every year, it has been announced today.

Communities across the country will be encouraged to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants as part of the annual festivities, communities minister Lord Bourne said.
The event will be overseen by a body of British Caribbean representatives and a Windrush Day grant of up to £500,000 will be available each year to charities and communities seeking to hold commemorative and educational events.

The British Caribbean community have been consulted widely to ensure the legacy and contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants is recognised and celebrated.

The announcement comes as the nation prepares for a range of Windrush 70 activities to commemorate the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks. A national service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey on June 22 2018 will form the centrepiece of events.

Communities minister Lord Bourne said: “A Windrush Day will allow communities up and down the country to recognise and honour the enormous contribution of those who stepped ashore at Tilbury Docks 70 years ago. It will keep their legacy alive for future generations, ensuring that we all celebrate the diversity of Britain’s history.

“It is a truly proud moment as we start a week of exciting Windrush 70 events, headed by a National Service at Westminster Abbey, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Windrush.”

70 years ago on 22 June 1948 the Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury Docks, Essex. The arrival of 492 passengers from the Caribbean marked a seminal moment in Britain’s history, and has come to stand for the rich diversity of this nation.

The Windrush Generation made a huge contribution to rebuilding the country following the war and their settlement and their descendants have continued to enrich social, economic, political and religious life.

Windrush Foundation director Arthur Torrington said: “The announcement of a national Windrush Day is a moment of great satisfaction. It will cement in the national consciousness the important contribution of those who travelled from the Caribbean to Britain 70 years ago to build a better life and participate in making Britain a stronger nation.

“Their legacy has lived on in their children and grandchildren and the communities they have built across the country. For years to come, Windrush Day will bring people together to celebrate this vital part of our shared history and heritage.

Patrick Vernon of 100 Great Black Britons said: “After several years of campaigning for a national Windrush Day it is great that the government has finally recognised this on the 70th anniversary. Sadly, one of the positive consequences of the recent Windrush Scandal has been a massive media and public education history lesson on the arrival of MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks on the 22nd of June 1948 and the subsequent contribution of the Windrush Generation to Britain.

“However we still need additional support and resources to ensure that Windrush Day becomes part of the national narrative and public memory of Britain.

“Other initiatives the government could consider include a series of commemorative stamps by the Post Office; the Bank of England issue special coins or bank notes; commission a statute or permanent monument to celebrate Windrush Generation; development of a national oral history and intergenerational programme to capture personal histories of the Windrush Generation and other BME elders; publication of educational and learning resources around migration and diversity.”

Confirmation of the annual event forms part of the Windrush 70 campaign that will see celebratory activities including dance performances, exhibitions and debates continue throughout the year.

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