Our event which kicked off the Windrush 75 celebrations in Bristol, took the form of a dinner in the First-Class Dining Saloon. We welcomed nearly 100 guests from a wide range of communities, including extra special guests – over 30 Windrush elders. It was a privilege to be able to celebrate the contributions this generation of pioneers made to British society. It was a beautiful sunny evening and guests were greeted by the newly formed Windrush Reggae Choir singing in the Historic Dockyard. In the Dining Saloon, traditional Jamaican food and a complimentary rum punch were provided by Glen’s Kitchen, a well-loved St Paul’s establishment, and DJ Nytro from BCFM provided music throughout the evening.
Iona Keen, Head of Interpretation, opened the evening by welcoming guests and briefly telling her own Windrush story (her father came over from Jamaica as a child in 1952, settling in London). Matthew Tanner, CEO, gave a warm welcome, inviting guests to explore the ship, and James Boyd, Deputy Director of Research, talked about the SS Great Britain’s migration stories, making the connection to Windrush. Shani Whyte, Community Researcher, told guests about her experience researching the archive in the Brunel institute and read a passage from her book Tying the Tides. After dinner, Bristol poet and jazz singer Nia Bimkubwa sang and performed her poem Windrush in Jamaican patois, and some of the elders told their Windrush stories of arriving in Britain in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The event was supported by a crack team of SS Great Britain staff who worked tirelessly to make it a success and make guests feel at home.