Windrush Elders’ celebratory dinner

Published: 20 June 2019

A Windrush Elders’ Dinner was held to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generations to Slough. There is also a celebratory event at The Curve on Saturday 22 June, from 12noon-5pm for the public, with entertainment and stalls.
More than 90 people attended the dinner including: the leader of the council, Councillor James Swindlehurst, Councillor Natasa Pantelic, Lydia Simmons OBE, former Mayor of Slough, Councillor Avtar Kaur Cheema ,current mayor, Janet Charles, Acting High Commissioner Dominica, and Elsa G Wilkin-Armbrister, Minister Counsellor St Kitts & Nevis High Commission.

The guests represented various Caribbean islanders who had moved to Slough between 1948 and 1971 to support British industry, the NHS, and the armed forces. Many of the attendees present found work on Slough’s trading estate and have made Slough the vibrant and diverse community it is today. The community organisers were honoured to have Lydia Simmons OBE at the evening, who was the first black lady Mayor in the UK and Slough’s Mayor from 1984 – 1985.

Guests were treated to a dinner cooked by head chef Sandra Heywood who volunteered her time and served traditional Caribbean dishes - baked chicken, jerk chicken, curried mutton, kweyol fish, and rice and peas. She said: “It was a pleasure to work with Carol, Janice, Cheryl and Lennox in the kitchen and see the seniors really enjoying themselves. My mum and aunty were recruited from Slough in Antigua and worked in NHS for over forty years, my mum as a psychiatric nurse and my aunty as a midwife. My dad worked at Mars on the trading estate. Because of them I went to catering college and became a chef. This dinner is my way of honouring not just them but all our seniors.”

Cllr Natasa Pantelic, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I was privileged to attend this dinner celebrating the Windrush generation who have contributed so much to Slough. We were treated to traditional Caribbean cuisine and entertainment and a great time was had by everyone. It’s fantastic so many community groups came together to make this event possible and we will work to make sure it’s an annual event.”

Rochdale Alexis, chair of Slough Dominica Association, said: “I would like to say a big thank you to all the Caribbean community groups in Slough who got together and put our money, efforts and talent into making this event a success. We had the support of the community development team within Slough Borough Council who helped us by providing the office space to meet, and the venue to hold our dinner for our elders, and I am grateful to them for allowing us the opportunity to show we can work together to make things happen.

A big thank you to Slough Outreach for donating supplies to us to put a smile on the face of our elders, who if they had not agreed to board Windrush, we would not be in Slough today. I salute the elders of Slough, thank you.”

Christina Brooks-Abraham, community organiser, said: “It was an honour for the Caribbean groups of Slough to pull together to host and watch the seniors enjoy an afternoon where they were celebrated. The youngsters served them with pride and to witness them socialise with their peers from other Caribbean islands, dance, and have fun, was a blessing to all of us.”

The event was organised by Slough Dominica Association, AXA UK, and 5 Directions,
with support from Slough Borough Council, Anguilla Community Group and SANAS and Slough Outreach.

After dinner the guests were entertained by performances by Boss and the Horsepower Band touring from Anguilla and Lennox Carty Dub poet. Resource Productions filmed and captured some of the event for a documentary, a short clip will be shown at Windrush Day at The Curve this Saturday 22 June from 12noon-5pm. With the longer documentary shown during Black History Month.