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Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History

A NEW exhibition opened at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Lampeter campus on Tuesday, January 25, which features stories of how the Windrush Generation Cymru made their homes in Wales.

‘Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History’ will be on display at the Library until April, to celebrate the bicentenary of the University, and as part of the exhibition’s tour at venues across Wales.

In 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex carrying over 1,000 passengers from the Caribbean Islands. They bravely left their friends and families back home in response to Britain’s call for post-war workers. Over the next 40 years, thousands followed in their footsteps, with many making Wales their new home.

The exhibition, delivered by Race Council Cymru and funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, features the stories of more than 40 of those Windrush Generation Cymru, told in their own words.

It is an opportunity for visitors to learn about their journeys to Wales, and the challenges they faced in building a new life in a country far from their homelands – finding work and the attitudes of people towards them.

The stories show how the Windrush Generation Cymru, and their descendants, have made their mark in all walks of Welsh life: through the jobs they worked, careers they built, the children they raised, and the contributions they made to our communities and culture.

Professor Uzo Iwobi, OBE, founder of Race Council Cymru and initiator of The Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History project, said:

“I am proud to have supported the Elders for many years, hearing their appeals for their stories to be captured for prosperity and continue their legacy for their children and grandchildren. I’m delighted that this project and exhibition have come to fruition – it’s incredibly important to see these stories being passed down to the next generation.”

Vernesta Cyril OBE, said: “At last society has recognised the Windrush Generation, so our stories can be told for generations to come”.

Mrs Roma Taylor, Founder and Chair of the Windrush Cymru Elders, added  “I’m so pleased and so proud of this exhibition, it’s a precious moment for each and every one of us. It’s our stories and if we don’t get them out then no one will know. The Windrush is a very painful and emotional subject but all of our stories have to go out. It’s important to us, our children and our grandchildren and for schools. Everyone has to know we have been through a lot. God has brought us through. Tiger Bay was the best place to live, I came over in ‘59. Everybody was for everybody, everyone looked after everyone and you had no problems.”

UWTSD Photojournalism & Documentary Photography graduate Antonia Osuji, who is currently working as an intern with Race Council Cymru, has worked primarily through the medium of photography to help record and document their stories for the exhibition.

Alison Harding, Executive Head of Library Services at UWTSD said: I’m so glad we are able to make this remarkable exhibition accessible to the community of Lampeter and the surrounding area. Telling the stories of the Windrush generation in Wales is an important landmark for our nation. It is key we listen and learn from their stories in their own voices, this is their history but also the history of Wales.”

The ‘Windrush Cymru – Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History’ exhibition is part of a series of physical and online exhibitions arranged by the University’s Library staff to commemorate the Bicentenary of the foundation of St David’s College Lampeter on 12 August 1822.   Throughout the year, a series of exhibitions and seminars have been arranged to showcase the Special Collections held at the University’s Roderic Bowen Library and Archives in Lampeter.