Lancashire Teaching Hospitals celebrate 75th anniversary of first Windrush arrivals

Posted on - 27th June, 2023 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Education, Fulwood, Health, History, People, Preston buildings & attractions, Preston News, Schools, Sharoe Green, South Ribble News
Old sepia photo of an Antilles boat on the sea
Old sepia photo of an Antilles boat on the sea

Colleagues across Lancashire Teaching Hospitals celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first Windrush
arrivals, whose history is forever intertwined with the NHS.

On June 22 1948, the HMT Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, Essex, just a couple of weeks before the NHS
came into being on July 5.

The ship carried 492 passengers from a number of Caribbean islands, who answered the call to help the UK
fill labour shortages, with a large percentage joining the NHS.

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The NHS is now the biggest employer of people from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background
in Europe, with statistics suggesting around a quarter of the workforce, representing over 200 nationalities –
doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, domestic, catering and porters.

It has often been said that the NHS could not function without its BAME staff – the Windrush generation helped
to build the NHS, and their legacy is our history.

Jonathan Grisdale works for the Trust, based in Chorley in Estates as a Multi-skilled Maintenance Craftsperson, and is also a former Preston Labour Councillor.

Jean Maria
Jean Maria

His mother Jean Maria is one of the Windrush generation, who made the decision to come over from
Barbados, arriving in Southampton on October 15, 1955 on the MV Antilles.

She arrived to take up a training post as a nurse in Blackwell and was quickly whisked away by porters and
chaperoned to the training college.

From Blackwell, Jean Maria went to work in Grantham, and then Salford, before moving to Preston, where her
family took root.

Jonathan is extremely proud of what she achieved: “My mum became the first district midwife in Fulwood, and
she was instrumental in founding the Antenatal clinic on Lytham Road – recently she came back to speak to
our Trust’s midwifery cohort, and the UCLan student midwives.

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“Mum faced a lot of challenges, but it was probably easier for a midwife or nurse, than say someone working
on the buses. There were some husbands who didn’t want her in their homes, however, and some mothers to
be didn’t want a black midwife either.”

Those attitudes have mostly changed for the better over time: “I recently spoke to one lady who apologised to
me profusely for how she had treated my mother 40 years ago, how rude she was and back then, that she
didn’t know any better.

“At a grassroots community level, I think the battle has been all but won – there’s no estate I can’t walk
through without feeling comfortable, and over the last 15/20 years things have significantly changed I feel.”

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