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Youth honour Windrush Generation with The Voice

TOP OF THE CLASS: Judah Hibbert, overall winner, from the Eden school with, left to right, Leon Hamilton, Dianne Augustin, mum Sorraine, Levi Roots and teacher Renée Clarke

THE WINNERS of this year’s edition of The Voice’s Made by History writing competition were celebrated at the heart of London on Monday.

The young guests, their parents and their teachers were welcomed to City Hall by its community engagement manager Jeanette Bain-Burnett, celebrity chef and Reggae Reggae Sauce founder Levi Roots, The Voice’s Director Paulette Simpson and Leon Hamilton, the chief representative officer for Jamaica National Bank UK.

Roots said: “The knowledge of our history is really important. The greatest tool I had when I entered the Dragon’s Den in order to take my sauces forward was the history that my grandma taught me. It was looking to the past but it was also looking to the future because it was one of Jamaica’s greatest philosophers, Marcus Garvey, who said, ‘No matter where you’re going to it always depended on where you’re coming from. History is one of the most valuable things you can put into your mind’.”

IMPRESSIVE: Levi Roots with Daniel Purcaru from Newman Catholic College, winner in the most inspirational category

Ms Bain-Burnett, who delivered the welcome address on behalf of City Hall, said: “We love to open up our doors to London’s communities and say this place is for you.”

Each of the participants in attendance were presented with a certificate and awards, and special prizes were handed out to the winners of each age group. The focus for this year’s competition was ‘Celebrating The Windrush Generation’.

Roots presented all the pupils in attendance with their certificates, as well as presenting the winner of the most inspirational entry – Daniel Purcaru of Newman Catholic College – with his prize, a complimentary meal at Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse restaurant.

Nine-year-old Kaiyah Rose of Burdett Coutts, who came top of her age group with her poem The Windrush Generation, told The Voice: “I feel really glad and I’m happy I did it. “I love all of it. I love how they came to Britain to help make it beautiful and to rebuild it after the war.”

HAPPY: Kaiyah Rose of Burdett Coutts School with Robert Reid

Kaiyah added: “I think my mum will obviously scream but my dad will be very happy.”

Nero Ughwujabo, special adviser to prime minister Theresa May, also attended the event. At the end of the presentation ceremony, Ughwujabo made a surprise announcement and informed the winners that they were invited to Number 10 Downing Street for a special reception held in their honour.

He told the children: “We’re going to arrange the date and time so that you can come with a parent and celebrate the achievement.”

Judah Hibbert, the overall winner of the competition, was shocked to be chosen as the winning entry.

He said: “I thought I would come somewhere near last place... I just didn’t think it was good enough.”

PROUD: Judah reads out his winning poem with mum Sorraine and teacher Renée Clarke

Judah’s poem, which was entitled Windrush Scandal, impressed the judges during the selection process and the guests at City Hall when he read it aloud, with his mum, in front of those gathered inside the chamber at the iconic London venue.

Sharing his feelings on winning, Judah said: “I feel quite good, excited, I can’t wait to tell daddy.”

On the topic of going to 10 Downing Street, Judah said: “I feel so happy because every time I see it in the newspaper I’m like, ‘aah if I was ever to go there, I’d be so happy’ and now I’m actually going there.”

His mum, Sorraine, was extremely excited at his achievement. She said that she, along with his father and grandfather, helped him with the research of the project.

“We sat down, we went on the internet, read stories, researched, looked at the photographs of the young men and women from the Caribbean, how smart they looked and we thought, ‘Ooh, we’re going to incorporate all of that with the recent stuff that was in the news’.”

She literally pinched herself when asked about how she felt about being invited to Number 10. “It’s not sunk in yet,” she said.

Renée Clarke, Judah’s teacher, who also accompanied him to the Made by History awards presentation ceremony, said: “I do think that something like this is really important, especially for children that don’t think that their writing is any good.”

Clarke, who has been instrumental in delivering a programme of black history at The Eden School, which Judah attends, said: “I had a real wow moment.

“He [Judah] said, ‘Miss it was you teaching me about black history that gave me the impetus to be able to do this’.”

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