Baroness Floella Benjamin was born in Trinidad in 1949. She left school at 16 with the aim of becoming Britain’s first ever black woman bank manager but changed direction and became an actress, presenter, writer, independent producer, working peer and an active advocate for the welfare, care and education of children throughout the world. She has also headed a successful award-winning film and television production company.
She has been in show business for over 50 years appearing on stage, film, radio and television. She became a household name through her appearances in the iconic children’s programmes ‘Playschool’ and ‘PlayAway’. She has written over 30 books and in 2016 the 20th anniversary edition of her book ‘Coming to England’ was chosen as a ‘Guardian Children’s Book of the Year’. For over 2 decades it has been used in schools and universities as a tool to explore the Windrush journey.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush she created a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Windrush Garden which won a gold medal and she is now a Vice President of the RHS. She was Chancellor of the University of Exeter for 10 years and became famous for hugging every graduate imploring them to ‘change the world’.
She was the first woman Trinidadian to be elevated to the House of Lords in 2010 and speaks on children’s, diversity and media issues and recently was successful in getting the government to bring in legislation for commercial broadcasters to provide UK made television programmes. In 2018 she was granted Honorary Freedom of the City of London for her outstanding contribution to the capital.
“When I was asked to take on the role as Chair the Windrush Commemoration Committee I didn’t hesitate. I felt honoured and thrilled to take on the responsibility and to put together a committee of well respected individuals to deliver what I consider to be a truly historic monument. I arrived in Britain as a 10 year old so I am very much part of the Windrush story and wanted to be involved in the process of leaving a lasting legacy for all children”.
Paulette Simpsonis the Executive Director of the Voice Newspaper, a black-owned newspaper that has served the black British community for over 35 years, and also Deputy Chief Executive Officer – Corporate Affairs, of JN National Bank. JN Bank UK is Britain’s first Caribbean owned bank. Alongside these roles, Paulette is Deputy Chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee and Chair of the Windrush Community Funds and Windrush Schemes Sub-group. She is incredibly active in her community and assists various charities across the UK with their work to improve the lives of Jamaicans in the UK and Jamaica.
Born in England, Paulette spent part of her childhood in Jamaica. As an undergraduate she returned to the UK and studied at the University of Stirling, earning a BA in Business Studies and later completing an MBA at the University of Westminster.
Paulette was recognised three times as one of Britain’s most influential people of African and African-Caribbean heritage in the annual UK Powerlist published by Powerful Media. Due to her incredible passion and hard work, in 2020 she was honoured for services to the Caribbean community in the UK by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and was conferred with the highest ranking order of Commander of the British Empire.
“I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with the Windrush Commemoration Committee in the position of Deputy Chair. The conceptualisation, design and installation of the National Windrush Monument has very deep meaning to me as my grandmother, parents and other members of my family are part of the Windrush trailblazers. It is my belief that, whilst it is important to campaign against the injustices faced by many of this generation, we also acknowledge the immense contribution made by all and use every opportunity to educate the nation. The Monument will be a historic legacy for current and future generations”.
Born in Nottingham and educated in State schools and Cambridge University, Ken has worked at IBM and Wang after which he founded 2 technology merchant banks. His business career has included serving as the first British-born black director of a FTSE-100 company (Reuters) and on the Boards of major companies including Open Text, ENRC, Huawei (UK) and Nigeria’s Interswitch.
His charitable passions include President of London homeless charity Thames Reach (for which he received an OBE), Chair of welfare to work charity Shaw Trust, founding Chair of the Aleto Foundation, supporting future leaders from tough reality backgrounds. In the past he has served as a Governor of the Peabody Trust and a Director of the West Lambeth NHS Trust.
His wider public service roles have included inaugural membership of the Postal Services Commission and IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority). In 2015 Her Majesty the Queen appointed Ken as her Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London – the first British-born black Lord-Lieutenant in the role’s 500-year history. He was knighted in the 2018 New Year’s Honours for services to business and philanthropy.
“London is the greatest city in the world and one of the reasons for that is our evident diversity. One of the reasons for our willing acceptance of difference is the positive impact made by those men and women who stepped on shore from the Windrush in 1948. Their arrival at the Port of London triggered a chain reaction of (eventually) positive changes which laid the foundations for a more tolerant, inclusive capital. As Her Majesty’s personal representative in Greater London I was therefore deeply honoured to be asked to play a part in the creation of this powerful monument which will stand testimony to all that the Windrush Generation have done for us.”
The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin was born and grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She was ordained deacon in 1991 and priest in 1994. For 16 and a half years she served as a priest in Hackney. In 2007 she was appointed as a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and in 2010, she became the 79th (and first female) Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, leading the prayers in the House of Commons daily and pastorally caring for members and staff of the Palace of Westminster. In 2014, she additionally became the Priest in Charge of the City Church, St Mary-at-Hill.
She was consecrated a bishop in the church of England on the 19th November 2019 in a service at St Paul’s Cathedral – the first female black bishop in the Church of England. On the 30th November 2019 she was installed as the Bishop of Dover in Canterbury Cathedral. She administers the historic diocese of Canterbury on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the summer of 2019, she was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) from the Jamaican Government and the MBE in the New Year’s Honour’s list at the end of 2019. She also presently serves on the Windrush Commemoration Committee seeking to create a lasting legacy to that generation.
She has served as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and also as one of the Panel of Chairs of the Synod. She represented the Church of England at the World Council of Churches in Zimbabwe and Brazil and served as its priest representative on the Anglican Consultative Council. She is also a Fellow Emeritus in Public Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary, USA.
“I am never keen on joining committees – but this was not just any Committee, this was about ‘righting a wrong’, ‘giving voice to a people’, making a statement that said, ‘the people of the Windrush generation and their descendants rightfully belong in Britain’.”
Ansel Wong CBE is a cultural and political activist. His work in the arts has played a vital role in transcending racial boundaries and highlighting Caribbean culture across Britain. He has worked for and with diverse communities for decades breaking down barriers and helping them share their cultural heritage.
Ansel was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago. His father was an immigrant from China and his mother was of African, Carib and Spanish heritage. After growing up in the West Indies, he moved to Britain in the mid-1960s where he attended Hull University and studied for his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and American studies. In an era of activism, Ansel was heavily involved in student politics and moved from the student scene to larger scale movements such as the Black Liberation Front.
After graduating Brunel University with a Master of Education he began teaching at Sydenham Girls Secondary School as an English teacher. During this time, he started lunchtime educational classes and engaging with the Black children at the school. He shared Caribbean culture through food, history and dance.
This first job was the start of a very successful career in education, equality and diversity, taking on roles such as Head of the Race Equality Policy Group for the Greater London Council, Chairing the Notting Hill Carnival and founding the Elimu Mas band. Ansel was also instrumental in establishing October as Black History Month in the UK and this was first celebrated in October 1987. He is a member of the Windrush Commemoration Committee and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to arts and culture.
“The HMT Empire Windrush has come to frame the Caribbean Diaspora’s presence in the UK, a status I am uncomfortable with. As Caribbean migrant, settler & my generation. But the invitation to join the Windrush Commemoration Committee to celebrate and commemorate this Diaspora’s presence and the contributions we made to Britain excited me. The excitement was not just working with one of my cultural icons, Baroness Benjamin, but more so, given an opportunity to counter balance the negative optics of the scandal and to re-define our presence with the artistry of Basil Watson, not an old ship.”
Geoff Thompson is a former five times World karate gold medallist and the holder of over 50 national and international titles. He is the Founder and Chair of the Youth Charter, a UK-based international charity and United Nations Non-Governmental Organisation that has for twenty-eight years used the ethics of sport and artistic excellence to tackle the problems of educational non-attainment, health inequality, anti-social behaviour and crime in some of the most troubled communities nationally and internationally. He is Deputy Chair of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“My reason for joining the Wind Rush Statue Committee was born out of a Windrush migration of my parents and a personal and professional need to see an extraordinary generation of West Indian Diaspora celebrated, recognised and acknowledged within their invaluable contributions to post-war Britain. I believe this statue is a symbol marking an important moment in history and is critical in the on-going challenges and opportunities being faced by the continued Wind Rush intergenerational journey and I hope will provide a positive reminder to the indomitable human spirit and how we overcome the challenges of today and turn them into opportunities for the future.”
Tim Campbellwho was awarded the MBE for Enterprise Culture in the 2012 New Year’s Honours List, is the founder of his own entrepreneurial social enterprise, Bright Ideas Trust. He is also a small business owner and co-author of one of Amazon’s Top 10 business books for 2010, ‘What’s Your Bright Idea?’. He is widely known for being the winner of the first series of BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’.
With a firm belief in education as a facilitator of social mobility, he currently sits on the City of London Education board and is Chair of Governors at St Bonaventure’s school in Newham.
“As the proud son of a Jamaican mother who invested so much, I wanted to ensure the sacrifices and achievements of my Mother, and those like her, were acknowledged, amplified and appreciated by everyone as we do for all those who have made and continue to make Britain great.”
Simon Frederick is a self-taught artist, photographer, filmmaker and broadcaster who was born in London to Grenadian parents. His photographs made history when his collection entitled ‘Black Is The New Black’ became the largest acquisition of African-Caribbean sitters by the National Portrait Gallery, becoming part of the Gallery’s prestigious permanent collection.
He produced and directed the award-winning documentary series for the BBC, ‘Black is the New Black’ (2016) which became a huge symbol of recognition of the contribution of African Caribbean people to British life and followed that up with ‘They’ve Gotta Have Us’ (2018), which charts the revolutionary rise of black people in the film industry.
Frederick has served as chief judge on the Sky Arts series Master of Photography and the annual World Photo Awards. He has also been profiled as one of 2019’s 100 ‘Most Influential Black Britons’ in the category of Media, Publishing and Entertainment.
Philomena Davidson was the first female President of the British Royal Society of Sculptors.
Philomena studied life modelling at City & Guilds of London Art School and then, following a travel scholarship in Europe paying particular attention to Greek sculpture, she attended the Royal Academy Schools as a postgraduate student and won the Royal Academy Schools Gold Medal for Sculpture and the Bronze Medal for the work from the Figure.
After three years in Japan studying Japanese arts and language she set up a studio in London. In 1982 she opened a bronze foundry in Milton Keynes and in 1984 became a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. In 1990 she became the Society’s first woman President, a post she held for six years. She has exhibited widely and undertaken a number of high profile commissions.
“One of my early childhood memories was of growing up alongside Windrush families, many of whom remain very close friends to this day. The warmth, generosity of spirit, and very moving stories of what it meant to be part of the Windrush generation have stayed with me throughout the years. I therefore regard it a privilege, as an art consultant with many years of experience in the field of public art, to have been able to lend my advice to the commissioning of a work of art that is so superbly represented by sculptor Basil Watson’s Monument to the Windrush.”
Professor Steve Eichhorn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Leeds in 1993. He then went on to do a Master’s degree and PhD (1995-1998) at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in the Paper Science Department. Following that he carried out postdoctoral research under the supervision of Professor Bob Young FRS in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (1999-2002). He was hired as a new lecturer in 2002 in the Materials Science department, which then became the School of Materials in 2004 when UMIST merged with the Victoria University of Manchester. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Reader and then went to become Chair of Materials Science at the University of Exeter in 2011.
Exeter he built an activity around sustainable materials research, and also took on leadership roles as a co-Director of an EPSRC funded doctoral training centre and he was the Head of Engineering (from 2014-2017). In September 2017 he moved to the University of Bristol and into the newly formed Bristol Composites Institute, and was interim Head of School (for the CAME School of Engineering) in 2020. He has been awarded the Rosenhain Medal and Prize in 2012 from the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) for his contributions to Materials Science, the Hayashi Jisuke prize from the Japanese Cellulose Society (in 2017), the Swinburne Medal and Prize (IOM3) in 2020, and was the Chair of the ACS’s Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division.
In 2021 he was awarded an EPSRC ED&I fellowship on Biobased Composites. The ED&I programme of work has a specific emphasis on Black and Black heritage staff and students.
“It was an honour and a pleasure to join the committee. The project is important to me because I have a focus on the equity, diversity and inclusion of Black and Black heritage people within the University of Bristol and local area through a number of projects funded by the EPSRC research council. The contributions of the Windrush generation have been enormous, and we must continue to recognise this.”
Keith Taylor writer, designer, director of photography, award winning producer and director of many television programmes, including ‘Statues and Monuments’.
He served as a Magistrate for 20 years and was Chairman of the Bench, an appraiser and mentor to new magistrates. He gives talks to young people on image, attitude and presentation to improve their employability prospects.
He supports numerous charities including World Heartbeat Music Academy and Transplant Links, a charity which literally saves lives by performing kidney transplants from parent to child.
“I am extremely proud to be associated with the Windrush Commemoration Committee as a co-opted member. As an artist, designer and television producer I was excited at the prospect of adding my expertise and enthusiasm to delivering such a significant and historic monument to celebrate the enormous contribution of the Windrush generation”.