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A special exhibition to mark the 65th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Dock in Thurrock, Essex, was officially opened by High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency Aloun N’dombet Assamba, on June 5.

The exhibition is the first in a series of activities in Thurrock to commemorate the Windrush 65th anniversary. The ship, which brought 492 Jamaicans and other West Indians, signalled the first wave of mass Caribbean migration to the United Kingdom (UK), and is credited with starting the UK’s multi-cultural society.

The High Commissioner, who commended Thurrock Council for recognising the significance of the Windrush, said the exhibition was very important, as it will remind and educate people that the migrants from the Caribbean were skilled men and women who were invited to come to the UK to help with the rebuilding, following World War Two.

“They were skilled migrants. Many were former service men who fought in the war, and they came because they were invited. There were advertisements in the newspapers inviting people to come to rebuild Britain at that time,” she said.

She argued that it was right that these migrants were recognised, as they made a significant contribution to building the British society, adding that it was important for their descendants to know that they had a right to be in Britain.

“Today is a day of reflection for me. Jamaicans and other West Indians have a very proud history here. The Windrush was the start of multi-cultural Britain. I am very pleased that Thurrock has done something to recognise this diversity and to pay tribute to the Windrush migrants,” the High Commissioner said.

The visit to Thurrock also included a courtesy call on the Mayor, Councillor Tony Fish, who pointed out that in the 65 years since the arrival of the Windrush, Thurrock had undergone many changes, and was proud of its diverse multi-cultural community.

The Thurrock Windrush celebrations will culminate on the week-end of June 22 and 23 with a commemorative boat trip, an awards dinner and a family day.

Contact: Vivienne Siva