21 June 2013

Windrush Day ‘an opportunity to give thanks’

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In a letter to The Times (paywall link), nearly 100 individuals and organisations have called Windrush Day an opportunity to give thanks for the positive contribution to Britain of modern immigrations and integration. Signatories (listed in full below) include politicians from each of the main parties and both Houses of Parliament,  faith groups, academics, business leaders, trade unions and cultural figures such as authors Zadie Smith and Malorie Blackman. The letter marks the beginning of a weekend of celebration.

British Future Director Sunder Katwala was interviewed on the importance of Windrush Day by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Daily Politics. See the full interview here:


The letter to The Times reads as follows:


Windrush Day – 22 June – is an opportunity to give thanks for the positive contributions made by those who have come from overseas to Britain to our common home.

All of us – whether we are immigrants ourselves, the children and grandchildren of immigrants, or able to trace our family histories back to much earlier arrivals to Britain – have a responsibility to uphold a positive vision of multi-ethnic and multi-faith Britain as a shared society which is welcoming, just and fair to all.

Many aspects of British society today would be unrecognisable without the contributions which immigration and integration have made to our society over the generations: from the NHS to the monarchy, our language and literature, our culture and food, even the Olympic team that we cheered together last year.

It was therefore fitting that Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony featured the Windrush’s arrival as part of its popular account of how our history has shaped the country that we are today.

The 65th anniversary of the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks is a chance to reach across our many different ethnic, faith and family heritages, to reject prejudice and intolerance, and to shape a fair and inclusive future that we all want to share. This and every year, Windrush Day should be an inclusive celebration of the Britain that we are proud to call home.

Yours faithfully

Arthur Torrington, Windrush Foundation

Sam King MBE, 1948 Windrush passenger

Patrick Vernon OBE, founder of 100 Great Black Britons

Revd. Sivakumar Rajagopalan London Baptist Association

Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future

Zadie Smith, Author

Malorie Blackman OBE, Children’s Laureate

Doreen Lawrence OBE

Diane Abbott MP

Gavin Barwell MP

Kris Hopkins MP

Dame Tessa Jowell MP

Sadiq Khan MP

David Lammy MP

Sarah Teather MP

Paul Uppal MP

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE

Baroness Elizabeth Berridge

Lord Alf Dubs

Baroness Oona King

Lord Herman Ouseley

Syed Kamall MEP

Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress

Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE, Playwright

Lemn Sissay MBE, Author

Hardeep Singh Kohli

Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE, Chief Executive, Kids Company

John Akomfrah OBE, Film director

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE, Deputy Editor of Granta

Rosie Bairwal, National Co-ordinator, Catholic Association for Racial Justice

Dr Rob Berkeley, Director, The Runnymede Trust

Polly Billington, Labour ppc, Thurrock

Professor Dinesh Bhugra CBE, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

Ian Birrell, The Independent and former speechwriter for David Cameron

Julian Bond, Director, Christian Muslim Forum

Mihir Bose

Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum

Margaret Busby OBE, Publisher

Sokari Douglas Camp CBE

Dr Augustus Casely-Hayford, Historian

Ila Chandavarkar, Development Coordinator, MENTER

Karen Chouhan, Director, Equanomics

Anthony Clavane, sportswriter and author

Colette Corkhurst, Equality Officer Unite

Jeremy Crook OBE, Black Training & Enterprise Group

Felix Cross MBE, Artistic Director, Nitro Theatre Company

Luke Daniels, President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity

Richard Dowden, Director, The Royal African Society

Don Flynn, Director, Migrant Rights Network

Dr Robert Ford, University of Manchester

Bob Foster, Founder of Windrush Nurses and Beyond Foundation

Lord Anthony Gifford QC

Ram Gidoomal CBE, Chairman, South Asian Development Partnership

Sharon Grant, Secretary, The Bernie Grant Trust

Bonnie Greer OBE, Chancellor, Kingston University

Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, ROTA

Prof Stuart Hall, Professor Emeritus, Open University

Zita Holbourne, National Co-chair BARAC UK & PCS NEC

Lady Hollick OBE

Lester Holloway, Liberal Democrats Race Equality Taskforce

Sunny Hundal, editor, Liberal Conspiracy website

Revd. Wale Hudson-Roberts, Racial Justice Group, Baptist Union of Great Britain.

Rev Dr Michael N Jagessar, Moderator, Assembly of the United Reformed Church

Kamaljeet Jandu, National Officer GMB

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Venerable Danny Kajumba, Archdeacon of Reigate, Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns

Jackie Kay MBE, Author

Omar Khan, Chairman, Bradford Bulls RLFC

Ratna Lachman, Director, JUST West Yorkshire

Michelle Lawrence, Director, Link Up (UK) & the Great British Community

John Mayford, Director, OLMEC

Roger McKenzie OBE, Assistant General Secretary UNISON

Mia Morris OBE, Founder, Black History Month

Dr Susheila Nasta MBE FRAS

Maajid Nawaz, Co-founder and Chairman, Quilliam Foundation

Dr Alastair Niven LVO, OBE

Ms Lara Oyedele, Chair, BMENational

Dave Pendleton, curator, Bantams Past, Bradford City FC

Hugh Quarshie, Actor

Nazek Ramadan, Director, Migrant Voice

Paulette Randall, Associate Director of the Olympics opening ceremony

Paul Reid, Director of Black Cultural Archives

Barbara Roche, Chair of Migration Museum

Sheila Rowbotham, Historian and writer

George Ruddock, Editor, The Voice Newspaper

Neena Samota, Coalition for Racial Justice (UK)

Marika Sherwood, historian, The Black and Asian Studies Association

Julie Siddiqi, Executive Director, Islamic Society of Britain

Dr Maria Sobolewska, University of Manchester

Dr Shirley J. Thompson, Composer

Daniel Trilling, New Statesman

Rudolph Walker OBE, Actor

Chris Whitwell, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers

Verna Wilkins, Author

Ansel Wong, Executive Director, Hansib Publications

Simon Woolley, Director, Operation Black Vote

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council


A service was held on Saturday 22nd June to commemorate the first Windrush Day. At the service Sam King MBE spoke about his hopes and experiences when he arrived in Britain on the ship in 1948. A celebration of the positive impact of immigration, the service took place at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, London. See images from the event below.

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