A SPECIAL event was held to mark the anniversary of the Windrush generation coming to the UK.

London Cruise Terminal, Port of Tilbury hosted the event on Friday, to mark the day 70 years on from the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush.

There was a Thanksgiving service and this was followed by a free community celebration.

Several relatives of those who arrived all those years ago attended the celebratory event in Tilbury.

They shared their experiences and talked about the contributions made.

Sandra Bovell, 54, of Hertfordshire, said her father came over to work as labour on building sites.

She said he told her about his experiences and what happened.

She said: “My father, Frank Bovell, said it felt like it took forever to get from Barbados to England.

“I think he said it took about three weeks in total.

“When he arrived it was not positive, as there were signs about “no black people” in some places.

“That’s the way it was in those days and that’s the way the views were.

“My father had no choice and had to come to provide for his family.

She said her father talked about how he was badly treated while working in the UK at the start.

However she expressed her pride at how the arrivals helped to build Britain up to what is has become today and how important those working as medical and transport staff were.

Another family affected was Peter Braham’s.

He said he couldn’t understand why his parents had chosen to start a new life in a country without sunshine when he arrived.

Looking back 59 years later he is glad his family emigrated from Jamaica.

He said: “I am pleased my dad came here and saw that this was a country where he could build a life.

“This is my home. It is where my family is and has been a good place to live and grow.

“I said ‘when does the sun come up’, there was smog and it was cloudy all the time.

“It was all so different to everything I was used to.”

Special guests included Forth Ports Chief Executive, Charles Hammond and constituency MP Jackie Doyle-Price. There were also musical from groups including performers from Thurrock Community Chorus and Phoenix Dance Theatre. The event was funded by Thurrock Council, Tilbury on the Thames Trust, Tilbury Riverside Project, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Port of Tilbury.