Taking care of a generation that travelled thousands of miles to help re-build Doncaster

Doncaster 2G Second Generation Team, from left to right: Julie Dyer, Paulette Paige, Pauline Hadden, Roz Kamara, Alex Watson, Joanne Brown, Neville Lindsey, Jenny Omotayo and Marcia Watson.
Doncaster 2G Second Generation Team, from left to right: Julie Dyer, Paulette Paige, Pauline Hadden, Roz Kamara, Alex Watson, Joanne Brown, Neville Lindsey, Jenny Omotayo and Marcia Watson.

Their mums and dads travelled thousands of miles to Doncaster in response to an appeal for help rebuilding post war Britain.

And now a group of second generation descendants of the ‘Windrush’ generation have banded together to help them as many start to retire.

Eight people whose parents arrived in the country in the 50s and 60s have joined forces to set up the newly created 2G group – made up of the children who grew up in Doncaster after their mums and dads came over from the Caribbean.

In the months since they set the group up, they have already blazed a trail, raising awareness of what their parents did, and running social events for the community.

They hope in the long run to help make sure organisations like Doncaster Council take their needs into account when it plans for the future.

Their most recent event saw dozens of Caribbean-born pensioners taking part in a dinner at Club 39, on Waterdale, complete with entertainment from The Seventh Day Adventist children’s choir.

It is not the first dinner they’ve run, and more are planned.

And in between those events, they put together an exhibition together for Doncaster Museum, documenting how their parents made the journey across the Atlantic to settle here.

Julie Dyer, Paulette Paige, Pauline Hadden, Roz Kamara, Alex Watson, Joanne Brown, Neville Lindsey, Jenny Omotayo and Marcia Watson got together to set the group.

Joanne, from Town Moor, said: “2G is a recently set up group – we are the children of the Windrush era.

“Our parents came over to Doncaster in order to seek a better life. But often the treatment that they received from the Government here in Britain and from other people was not in keeping with the cry that had gone out to come and help build Britain.

“We, as their children, felt we wanted our parents to get the credit they deserve for what they did for this country. Our aim is to make sure their latter days are spent with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

“My dad was a miner – they were not all white faces in the mines. 

“So we set 2G up about six months ago, and appealed to our peer group to pay for a meal this week for our parents.”

Ros Kamara added: “Its also about giving a safe environment for our parents to meet and we’re looking to organise more events like this throughout the year.”

“The community is dispersed, there is no community centre or single place to get together, so we are hoping to create that. We also want to be a point of contact for our elderly where we can help them with any issues they got. We are from professional backgrounds and there is a lot we can help them with.”

Many of the families have known each other for many years. They used to meet at Town Field to play games together.

One of their early achievements was putting together a display at Doncaster museum that marked the first arrivals on the boat HMT Empire Windrush to England in 1948. The display, called Arrivals: From the Caribbean to Doncaster, marked the 70th anniversary.

The British Nationality Act 1948 gave citizenship to all people living in the UK and its colonies, including the right of entry and settlement in the UK. There was plenty of work in post-war Britain. Industries such as British Rail, public transport, coal mining and the National Health Service recruited many people from the Caribbean. 

The information for the display was provided by the 2G.

Group chairman Alex Watson did research for the project and provided pictures.

He said: “We did the display in October for Black History Month. Footfall was so good that they kept it on display for an extra months.

“We want to try to put on three or four events a year.”

Members of the group have been pleased with the support they have had. South Yorkshire Police provided a venue for their more recent event. They have also had support from The Rum Rooms near the Market. Doncaster Prison helped them print a fund raising calendar, which they have been selling to raise funds.

Personal stories

Many of those whose stories were featured in the exhibition were among those taking part in the latest 2G meal.

Panels from the exhibition were on show at the event.

Among those at the dinner, and featuring on the display, was Frank Wallace, from Balby, who left Jamaica aged 19 in 1962. Frank flew into London and lived in the capital for a year.

After living in West Norwood for a few years, he decided to move to Scotland. But he stopped off at Doncaster to visit his brother on the way, and never left.

After getting a job at Prosper de Mulder, he went on to work on the railways again, and then at International Harvesters, where he became the union representative, and met former Prime Ministers Jim Callaghan and Tony Blair. After retiring, he went on to get a degree in cultural and social studies, before going back to work again as caretaker at Mexborough School.

He remembers arriving in England. He said: “I had been a apprentice joiner in Jamaica, but I was 19 when I came to England, and I was told I was too old to be an apprentice  then, so I worked for British Rail.

“After coming to Doncaster, I bought a house and married a local girl in 1966, and I’m still here today.”

He said he was pleased to see the new group organising events for his generation.

He remembers the racism that was faced when he first arrived. There were groups of teddy boys that attacked black men. 

“We got friends to come and visit us from Leeds – it was about safety in numbers,” he said.

Of racism , he said: “Things have improved. It’s not perfect, but it is better.”

Winston Gordon flew to England from Jamaica in 1957. He was 23 and had worked as a shop assistant. He arrived in Doncaster and got a job for the John Fowler chains links factory. 

He also became well known as the pastor as the God’s Prophesy Church in Hyde Park. He was also pleased with the efforts of the younger generation.