Fundraisers appeal for donations for project to retrieve Empire Windrush anchor to turn it into a memorial
Organizers of fundraisers to get the anchor out of the Empire Windrush and turn it into a memorial appeal to donations, "big and small". (PA)
The organizers of a fundraiser to find the anchor of the sunken Empire Windrush and turn it into a memorial ask for donations "big and small" to make their ambitions a reality.
A fundraiser has been set up through GoFundMe to commemorate the importance of the windrush generation with the ship's anchor, which is currently 2,800 meters below the sea off the Algerian coast.
The fundraiser takes place amid a debate on monuments in Britain after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down in Bristol during a protest against Black Lives Matter.
Patrick Vernon OBE, himself a child of the windrush generation, is the driving force behind the campaign to regain the windrush anchor and use it as a memorial. He has been pushing for this step for over a year and hopes that the current focus on monuments could encourage people to donate and make it a reality.
A replica of the deck of the Empire Windrush, created in 2018 as part of the Windrush Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. (PA)
Vernon, who successfully led the campaign that set June 22nd as Windrush Day - a national holiday that recognizes migrants' contribution to British society, said: “I thought if we wanted a monument, why not anchor the ship will get a memorial. We know where it is, it is at the bottom of the Mediterranean.
“Part of the experience of ethnic minorities in Britain is that there are no monuments. There are more monuments to cats and dogs than the contribution of the black, Asian and ethnic minority communities to the UK.
“There are no monuments or monuments to celebrate the rise of Britain's multiculturalism since World War II. There is nothing.
Read more: What is the windrush scandal?
"When we started to find out and have a conversation about it, people thought," What's the fuss? "But now there is a national debate about what history is and how important things around historical monuments and statues are.
“I think this monument with the Empire Windrush anchor could be a source of inspiration for generations of black, brown and white people in Britain who understand racism and white privileges and are trying to create a society where citizenship and belonging are for everyone .
“It will symbolize migration, racial equality and the shared history of belonging and citizenship. Like the Statue of Liberty, it can become a beacon of hope. "
He said the goal should be to achieve the dream within three years, since June 2023 will be the 75th anniversary of the first arrival of the windrush generation.
Patrick Vernon OBE said the anchor was an important memorial to the migrant community's contribution to Britain. (PA)
The Empire Windrush is known for its historic journey from Kingston, Jamaica to London with the first wave of Windrush immigrants.
It continued to serve the Department of Transportation and typically carried military personnel and their families back to the UK from the Far East.
In February 1954, the ship's engine room caught fire and immediately evacuated all passengers and crew.
A rescue operation saved 1,494 people on board despite four engine room workers being killed, and the abandoned ship, which was still on fire, sank two days later when it was towed to Gibraltar.
Vernon has partnered with Mast for Maritime Heritage, the founder of which is award-winning maritime archaeologist Jessica Berry, and well-known shipwreck hunter David Mearns, who has agreed to lead the search for wreck and anchor restoration to do this Complete project and visual communicator and researcher Max Holloway.
The fundraiser is targeting £ 500,000, with the remaining £ 1.5 million coming from major sponsors. (GoFundMe)
According to their fundraiser, the wreck is located about 23 nautical miles off the coast of Algeria on a relatively flat part of the sea floor that is approximately 2,800 meters deep.
Because of the way it sank and where it sank, the team is 95% certain that it can find it and restore the anchor.
Overall, the restoration of the anchor is expected to cost around £ 2m, but the GoFundMe campaign aims to raise £ 500,000 from the public.
Afterwards, Vernon and his donation colleagues hope for sponsorship and support to reach the final amount.
Read more: Black history lessons should be taught in all schools, activists demand
So far they have raised £ 3,253 and Vernon said they would welcome any donation "no matter how big or small".
"We have the technical expertise to do this. We just need the money to do it," he said.
"What happens during Black Lives Matter is that a lot of companies are spending money. Maybe there is someone who would like to support this initiative and that would be fantastic.
"Who knows, it could bring the country together. There is so much division and that could be a positive thing.
“We spend a lot of time talking about the past, but we should also look to the future and think about what kind of monuments we want to have in a future UK.
"The anchor itself could be part of this contribution to looking into the future."
On Wednesday June 24th, the group will hold a consultation on Zoom to explain the project and how it works. Sign up here.
"People traumatized" by windrush scandal
Windrush activist Anthony Brown has told Sky News that the victims of the scandal were "upset and traumatized" after "decades" of "interior ignorance and thoughtlessness" by the Home Office.
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