22 June 2022

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend unveiling of national Windrush monument

22 June 2022

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the unveiling of a national monument in one of London’s biggest train stations to celebrate the dreams and courage of the Windrush generation.

The statue – of a man, woman and child in their Sunday best standing on top of suitcases – will be revealed at Waterloo Station on Wednesday to mark Windrush Day.

It was designed by the Jamaican artist and sculptor Basil Watson, who said it had been an honour to create the monument.

William and Kate will gather alongside members of the Windrush generation for the unveiling.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

The Government, which has provided £1 million in funding for the project, said it ”symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971”.

It also acknowledges the Windrush generation’s “outstanding contribution” to British society and is intended to be “a permanent place of reflection”, it added.

Waterloo station was chosen because thousands of people who arrived from the Caribbean passed through the station on their way to start their new lives across the country, the Government said.

The unveiling is one of dozens of events and activities across England to celebrate Windrush Day 2022.

Mr Watson said his monument pays tribute to the “dreams and aspirations, courage and dignity, skills and talents” of the Windrush generation who arrived with “a hope of contributing to a society that they expected would welcome them in return”.

He said: “My parents, along with a great many others, took the long arduous voyage from the Caribbean with very little or nothing other than their aspirations, their courage and a promise of opportunity for advancement.

“This monument tells that story of hope, determination, a strong belief in selves and a vison for the future.”

The Empire Windrush (PA) (PA Archive)

Communities Secretary Michael Gove said: “Seeing Basil Watson’s magnificent monument, it’s easy to imagine the excitement, hope and apprehension that the Windrush pioneers must have felt as they arrived in the UK.

“Overcoming great sacrifice and hardship, the Windrush Generation and their descendants have gone on to make an immense contribution to public life. Britain would be much diminished without them.“

Communities minister Kemi Badenoch added: “Basil Watson’s sculpture perfectly captures the spirit of Windrush.

“In it we see the strength, hope and expectation of those who arrived with little and yet gave so much.

“As a first-generation immigrant myself, the Windrush story resonates with me and it is important we recognise the contribution of those who have so enriched our country.”

It comes as famous faces including actor Sir Lenny Henry, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, broadcaster Sir Trevor Phillips, historian David Olusoga and cross-party politicians called for Windrush Day 2023 to be a “major national moment”.

Next year marks 75 years since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in 1948, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean.

More than 100 leaders from politics, faith and civil society, sport, culture and business have signed a joint letter, published in The Times newspaper, starting the one-year countdown to the milestone.

They write: “This is not only black History – it is British history. It should be something we all know and commemorate.

“We call on the Government and all UK institutions, from politics to civil society, faith, culture, business and sport, to step up and fully play their part next year.”

Polling commissioned to mark Windrush Day suggests that 64% of the public thinks children should be taught about Windrush to help understand Britain’s history of empire and its diverse society.

Just 9% of people disagreed, according to the survey of 2,006 British adults by Focaldata between February 28 and March 7.

Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said they are familiar with the story of the Windrush, while 46% said they would like to know more about it.

The polling was carried out for the Windrush 75 network, set up to co-ordinate efforts for the 75th anniversary over the next 12 months, and the think tank British Future.

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