Imagine packing your whole life into a suitcase. Leaving your home, family and friends behind and spending whatever money you had on a ticket to a country you’d heard about, but never seen: all, because you wanted a better future for you and your family.
That’s the journey 492 men and women - many of whom had served with the Allied Forces in the Second World War - from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands made sixty five years ago. Their ship was the Empire Windrush and this weekend marks the anniversary of their arrival at Tilbury Docks.
But these national celebrations are about much more than that. They are a chance for all of us to pay tribute to the strength and resilience of the Windrush generation and the lives they built in Britain, often in incredibly tough circumstances.
It wasn’t easy. For many, Britain was colder, damper and greyer than they’d imagined. All experienced prejudice and discrimination in their day-to-day lives: turned away from lodgings and turned away from jobs.
They never gave up. With creativity, determination and hard work, they bought their own homes, got what jobs they could and worked their way up. They were pioneers contributing at every level of our society to create the hopeful future they were promised: a Britain that was tolerant, diverse and open.
Their legacy lives on. Not just in the loved ones of those who made this journey. But also for the rest of us, who did not. In every area of British life, their influence is remarkable and clear for all to see.
Together, and because of them, we are a more modern, vibrant and greater Britain. This weekend, let us remember their achievements and thank them.