Windrush legacy celebrated
Staff from across King’s Health Partners attended an event at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to celebrate the anniversary of HMT Empire Windrush arriving in Tilbury Docks, Essex, bringing the first Jamaican immigrants to Britain after World War Two.
They and the others who followed helped build the NHS and continue to play a crucial role with one in five of the NHS’ workforce from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.
David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham [pictured right], who spoke at the event at St Thomas’ chapel, said he felt it ‘important to come to a hospital’ to celebrate the Windrush legacy.
Mr Lammy said:
It’s important to think about the contribution of so many West Indian and Caribbean nurses, some of whom included my Aunts and family, who came here and built the modern NHS as we experience and enjoy it.
Janet Daby, Member of Parliament for Lewisham East, said:
This event is very significant. For people like my parents back in their own countries of origin, this was always the country they aspired to come to, the country they looked up to and had great aspirations for. In those early days in the 1950 and 60s they were thrilled to come to the UK.
Karen Bonner, divisional director of nursing at Chelsea and Westminster and former Guy’s and St Thomas’ corporate head of nursing, said:
On Windrush Day for me it’s really important for us to take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the inspirational work and contribution that people have made to the UK from diverse backgrounds. And today particularly those that travelled from the Caribbean.
It mattered for me to come here today because I worked here and this place holds a very dear place to me in my heart. The Windrush was the signal for the arrival of BME people from the Caribbean who played an important role in building the NHS to begin with and continue to contribute. They make the NHS the great institution that it is today.
Bonner said it was also important to be at St Thomas’ Windrush celebration because the hospital hosts the Mary Seacole statue in its garden, which immortalises the story of a Jamaican nurse who cared for sick soldiers in the battlefields of the Crimea.