Poignant ceremony and flag raised by mayor to celebrate Windrush Day in Northampton

Generation described as 'a group of people who have added to the rich diversity of this county and nation'

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 10:08 am
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 10:10 am
Dignitaries outside The Guildhall in Northampton to mark Windrush Day. Photo: Roger Barker
Dignitaries outside The Guildhall in Northampton to mark Windrush Day. Photo: Roger Barker

Northampton celebrated Windrush Day with a poignant ceremony outside the Guildhall on Tuesday (June 22).

Mayor Rufia Ashraf raised the national standard Windrush flag at midday to mark 73 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush in London - where the generation of Caribbean immigrants got their name.

Northampton Windrush Generation and Descendants UK was officially inaugurated at the event with co-founders Martin Cole and June-Elizabeth White-Smith-Gulley cutting the ribbon.

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Ms White-Smith-Gulley said: "The event gave both the Windrush generation, their descendants and the wider community a continued understanding of the valued contributions made by a group of people who have added to the rich diversity of this county and nation."

The Windrush carried several hundred Caribbean migrants, many of them veterans of the Second World War, who were encouraged to migrate to Britain to address shortages in the labour market.

Many more followed suit from all over the Commonwealth after the war and became known as the Windrush generation.

The Windrush generation were brought into sharp focus following the scandal in 2017 when it was revealed the government had threatened Commonwealth immigrants who arrived before 1973 with deportation if they could not prove their right to remain in the UK.

Windrush Day has been celebrated nationally for the past three years to celebrate the contributions to society made by the generation and their descendants.

Last year's commemorations in Northampton were held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic but this year an actual ceremony was allowed to happen.

With the support of Northamptonshire Black History Association, Northampton Windrush Generation and Descendants UK invited 30 people for the event on St Giles' Square.

Among the speakers were Bishop Donovan Allen from New Testament Church of God, High Sheriff of Northamptonshire Amanda Lowther, West Northamptonshire Council leader Jonathan Nunn and Ms White-Smith-Gulley.

Nicholas Moses, a Year 13 student at Northampton School for Boys, spoke about a play he helped to write about the Windrush by interviewing his grandfather and other relatives.