Staff and visitors at two Black Country hospitals were given an opportunity to join Thanksgiving services held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Windrush generation arriving in the UK.
Led by the Chaplaincy – Spiritual Care Teams across Walsall Healthcare and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trusts (RWT), both services reflected on the landmark moment that altered the course of British history, acknowledging the courage of those involved, and the great sacrifices they made.
Windrush Day, which falls on 22 June, marks the time that people arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971, when British immigration laws changed. While not all arrived on HMT Empire Windrush itself, the ship became a symbol of the wider mass-migration movement.
Many of those who came to the UK became Nurses in the newly established NHS.
Services were held yesterday featuring songs, poems and prayers.
In Walsall, Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby, Group Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, greeted guests in the main atrium of Manor Hospital following a welcome by Rev Linford Davis, Head of Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care at both Trusts.
She said: “It is important to have a moment of reflection to think about the bravery of the people on that boat.
“To come to a different country that was in desperate need of help – that bravery is paramount. They left their own families to help us and we thank them. The communities we are all part of have benefitted from their bravery.”
Talented Rebecca Campbell sang Great is thy faithfulness as well as closing the service with Hallelujah. Edd Stock, Chaplaincy Team Leader at Walsall led a prayer and Anthony Swaby, Anglican Chaplain, read Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd.
Angela Cope, Staff network and EDI Manager, moved many to tears with her personally written reading and Paulette Maynard read a poem. Rev Laurel Woodstock, Trust Chaplain and Senior Pastor at New Testament Church of God, Walsall, shared some of her personal experience and urged everyone to think of the legacy of Windrush.
The gathering at RWT, in the Wolverhampton Medical Institute (WMI) at New Cross Hospital, featured readings, music by singer Amethyst Jackson-Hickson, poetry, and inspirational thought by Bishop Ruben King from NTCG Harvest Temple/Churches for Positive Change, Wolverhampton.
The Bishop described himself as being “in awe” of what his parents and the wider Windrush generation achieved despite a poor welcome from British citizens at that time. He highlighted their perseverance and talked about the power of faith – explaining that church was “one of the few places where they didn’t get called names.”
Joe Fielder, Team Leader for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at RWT, added: “By stepping back and reflecting upon the history, we realise the great legacy of Windrush and the positive impact it continues to have on British society.
“The passengers were faced with racism and abuse yet they stayed resilient and persevered. Despite the many challenges, on top of missing their homes and loved ones, they were committed to making a difference. They were truly inspirational.”
Dr Jonathan Odum, Group Chief Medical Officer, was also in attendance and reflected on the rich diversity of the Trust, particularly within the medical workforce, and the importance of embracing other cultures and ethnicities to widen understanding and appreciation of others.
In addition, a stall promoting Windrush was hosted by Greggs at New Cross Hospital today and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) Charity held a special event at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre featuring local artists’ interpretations of Windrush.