Spirit of Windrush celebrated at Westminster Abbey

Friday, 22nd June 2018

Actors dressed as people who have just arrived in England on HMT Windrush. They are all carrying suitcases

Her Majesty The Queen was represented by Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, at a Service of Thanksgiving to mark the 70th anniversary of the landing of the Windrush, at Westminster Abbey at noon on Friday 22nd June 2018.

Spirit of Windrush: Contributions to Multicultural Britain was attended by the Right Honourable Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, and by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan.

The service was conducted by the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, who said in his Bidding:

The arrival on 22nd June 1948 of the Empire Windrush at the Port of Tilbury brought more than 500 men and women from the Caribbean to live in Britain and to contribute to the recovery of this country from the rigours and devastation of the Second World War.
Following the British Nationality Act of 1948, all citizens of British colonies had been accorded Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. This first arrival marks the beginning of significant migration from the Caribbean. Seventy years later, we come to give thanks for the lives, commitment, and courage of those original settlers, to celebrate the rich diversity of multicultural Britain in our own day, and to pray that all people in this land as elsewhere may live together in harmony and mutual respect.

The Address was given by the Reverend Canon Joel Edwards.

The Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to The Queen, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and Priest Vicar of Westminster Abbey, read Jeremiah 29: 4-11; and Jayden Hamilton read 2 Corinthians 4: 6-9.

There were performances of The Invitation, a dramatic exploration of the invitation from the British to Caribbean citizens; and Mixed Welcome, dramatised testimonies of the first Windrush settlers in Britain.

The Windrush Soloists sang Psalm to Windrush: for the Brave and Ingenious, a new anthem by Shirley J Thompson commissioned for the service by the Windrush Commemoration Committee.

Carla Jane sang the anthem, Faithful one, so unchanging by Brian Doerksen.

Prayers for the Future were concluded by the Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon in Residence, who said the Lord's Prayer.

The service was sung by the Windrush 70th Anniversary Choir, directed by Karen Gibson. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist. Before and after the service, steel drums were played by the Shern Hall Methodist Youth Steelband, led by Evangelica Solomon.

The Dean wore a new cope, commissioned by the Church of England’s National Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns and featuring images illustrating aspects of black history in Britain since the arrival of the Windrush. It was made by artist Terry Duffy and will be available on request to churches and clergy across the country after the service.

The Order of Service (PDF, 824KB)