Home African Caribbean A Windrush Story That Needs To Be Read

A Windrush Story That Needs To Be Read

by Tony Kelly

My name is Tony Kelly

I currently work as a volunteer NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System

My role is Diabetes Ambassador/Activist

As  a volunteer diabetes ambassador with the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System  staff were invited to share stories from the  historical period of the forthcoming 75th Windrush anniversary celebrations with 22nd June being National Windrush Day. With that in mind I have chosen to highlight an article that was written for the Voice newspaper in April 2020 during the pandemic as it remains apt, relevant and poignant. I am all for  changing the narrative  to show that people from the Caribbean played a vital role from then in rebuilding the country after the second world war ended in 1945. The image of the White man pointing his finger on a poster saying ‘Your Country Needs You’ can be still viewed on the internet and many heeded the call to  come to what was then referred to as the Mother Country. Current and future generations of every ethnicity need to know this aspect of  history.

After the second world war ended in 1945 and the devastation caused by the relentless bombing in London and Coventry Cathedral the birth of the National Health Service in 1948 saw representatives from Britain arrive in the Caribbean with images of a man pointing his index finger along with the headline ‘Your country needs you’. 

My aunt, Aldyth Richards in 1952 from Bath, St. Thomas, Jamaica heeded the call to come and re-build Britain, followed by my mother in 1953 and another aunt, Yvonne Kelly in 1956 who all trained as State Registered Nurses (SRN) in London. They were indeed pioneers of the Windrush Generation and played a vital role in the NHS and their contribution is part of our history and legacy that needs to be known to the current and future generations.  The narrative needs to be changed and my contribution to that is also shared here with a few photos taken back then.

My family helped to build the NHS’: Tony Kelly’s letter to his mother 

In recent years, the critical role that black nurses who came to Britain as part of the Windrush Generation played in creating the NHS has come to be more fully recognised. One of those was Millicent Kelly who arrived in Britain in 1953. Here, in a heartfelt letter to his late mother, her son pays tribute to her achievements in nursing and wonders what she would have made of the current NHS.

For the full story click here

NB: In the feature photo Millicent Kelly (far left) was one of the Windrush Generation nurses who came to Britain in the early 1950s and helped shape the NHS.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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Patrick June 25, 2023 - 7:36 am

The article and photos show how much Caribbean people and in particular Jamaicans contributed in a vitally important way to rebuilding Britain. Thankfully this evidence backs up that. Lest we forget readily springs to mind. A really moving story.

inderbir Kaur July 5, 2023 - 8:05 am

Tony has done a great job to bring the past to life and it is shameful how those who have helped build this country and its’ institutions have been subjected to hostile enviroment. The current government is operating as colonial oppressors. The British paid the local community to oppress and kill their own. The government in recent time have become overtly racist and oppressive.
Thank you Mr.Kelly

Yvonne June 24, 2023 - 3:32 am

History cannot be rewritten. It can be buried, whitewashed and retold to fit and support a particular narrative. Those who know the truth and have evidence should ensure that it is told and recorded especially so that the family members involved can see where they fit and how integral contributions are.

Shirley Thompson June 26, 2023 - 12:56 am Reply

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