HMT Empire Windrush arrived in Britain on 22 June 1948. On board were more than 800 passengers from the Caribbean.
This June marks 75 years since that voyage. It is a major national moment, a chance to come together and celebrate this shared history.
Yorkshire Cricket proudly supports the Windrush 75 campaign and its celebration of the legacy and impact of an extraordinary generation of migrants and is helping with two special Windrush Day events during the 75th anniversary year.
The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation – the official charity arm of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) – in partnership with the Sheffield Caribbean Sports and Wellbeing Club and Cricket Arena, is running a special festival event today, (Thursday 22 June), to showcase and honour the Caribbean culture and the legacy of the Windrush generation in the city.
A series of cricket and football matches will take place and there will also be traditional Caribbean music and dance, food vendors, speakers on Windrush stories, and a special exhibition at the Club including an historic collection of photographs capturing groups of West Indies arrivals from the SS Empire Windrush.
There will also be a young people area with games and cricket activities supported through the ACE Programme – a partnership between YCCC, the Sheffield Caribbean Sports and Wellbeing Club and African Caribbean Engagement (ACE), a charity launched by former England cricketer and pundit Ebony Rainford-Brent to increase the representation of black people within the sport.
Since its launch the ACE Programme in Sheffield is working with four schools in the city and engages with more than 200 young children each week and provides fun cricket coaching session for children to learn new cricket skills and to enjoy cricket.
Des Smith, the Chairman for the Sheffield Caribbean Sports and Wellbeing Club, who had emigrated to England from Jamaica in the 1960s after his parents had emigrated six years earlier, said: “It’s very important that we mark this at the Club – the Windrush generation were invited to rebuild England after the Second World War – and they came in their thousands to help. Over the 75 years they have made a massive contribution and continue to do so.
“The Windrush generation have been incredibly important to the Sheffield community – a lot worked mainly in hospitals and the NHS, in the steel works, in the mines, and transport including railways.
“The contribution has been absolutely enormous to the community as a whole in England and to Sheffield in particular.”
Des, who is also the Chair of the African Heritage Cultural Forum, has also helped organise a special celebration alongside Sheffield City Council taking place at the Sheffield Town Hall on the same day.
More than 200 people are expected to attend the event which will commence with the raising of a Windrush flag and also include personal experiences shared and a special lunch which will be attended by Cllr Colin Ross, Lord Mayor of Sheffield alongside a number of community groups and dignitaries.
This week will also see the Yorkshire Cricket Board – which oversees the recreational game and supports more than 800 grassroots clubs and schools playing the game every week in the summer, equating to more than 125,000 recreational players – alongside a number of other organisations, supporting a Windrush 75 celebration at Park Avenue Bradford Cricket Ground, led by Active Bradford.
The ‘Windrush 75 – Not Out’ free celebration will include a cricket and domino festival and a fun day of friendly matches between seniors and junior matches as well as sports coaching for youth players.
Players from Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield, Preston, Manchester, the Midlands, and London will be attending – with a special guest appearance from a former International West Indies Cricket player as well as live music and DJ, on Friday, 23 June.
Charles Dacres, Co-Chair at Active Bradford and Director at Windrush Generations, said: “Cricket has played a really important role for many in our Black and Asian communities and particularly for those from the Windrush generation playing cricket here was one way of people being able to gain a real sense if identity and purpose through managing and leading something for themselves.
“The fact that they were the captains of their teams and then playing together as a team in their own right – there was something quite powerful and something very secure about people being able to do that. From that came a very strong sense of identity because cricket was something that was significant back home in the Caribbean.
“On Friday what will be interesting is talking to individuals about their own experiences and sharing those stories. We’ve got some players of yester year who will be donning their uniforms and playing the game – and the whole point about Friday is about sharing and the handing on of the baton.
“Here is an opportunity hopefully to inspire the next generation and reignite a spark.”
Caribbean Sports Club Windrush Celebration Day 23
Date: Thursday 22 June 2023, 10am- 5pm
Venue: Sheffield Caribbean Sports and Wellbeing Club (S35 9WL)
Windrush 75 – Not Out
When: Friday June 23, 12pm onwards
Where: Park Avenue Bradford Cricket Ground, Canterbury Avenue