Daughter shares poem to remember dad who was part of the Windrush generation

Only 3 per cent of Windrush victims who claimed compensation have been been paid.

In 1948, Empire Windrush brought one of the first large groups of postwar West Indian immigrants to Britain. Elizabeth's father came to the UK in 1953. - Credit: Archant

A woman who grew up in Hackney has written a poem inspired by her father, and the Windrush generation he was a part of, who journeyed from Caribbean countries after World War two and helped rebuild Britain.

The 73rd anniversary of the migration will be marked on Tuesday, June 22, with Windrush Day - which is set to be celebrated across the borough. 

Elizabeth Newton’s father, Thomas Newton, passed away in December last year. He was born in Guyana in 1939.

In memory of her dad and the many men and women like him who travelled to post-war Britain from the West Indies, Elizabeth has written a poem called In Spirit.

She said: “I don’t see Father’s Day as a sadness for [my father] as he will be remembered forever.


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“It was a life well lived. He built a life here and we had a good home.”

Elizabeth's father Thomas Newton, who passed away last year. 

Elizabeth's father Thomas Newton, who passed away last year. - Credit: Courtesy of the Newton family

Inspired by her dad, who left his former home in Guyana in 1953, Elizabeth hopes to pass on a message of hope to all people who have lost family members, especially during such a difficult pandemic year.

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She also wishes to remember members of the Windrush generation who have “sadly perished”.

Members of the Windrush generation, their descendants and contribution to British life will be celebrated on June 22 this year.

Elizabeth recalls her dad telling her about coming to the UK.

Poet and writer Elizabeth Newton who grew up in Hackney. 

Poet and writer Elizabeth Newton who grew up in Hackney. - Credit: Elizabeth Newton

She said: “He always remembered when he came here, and he saw the sign: ‘No Irish, no dogs and no Blacks.

“But he obviously loved England because he was here until the day he died.”

Elizabeth says she sees Windrush as something positive despite the “troubles” members of that generation dealt with and lived through, which include the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, threats of deportation and other hostile policies.

Thomas worked in the British Army has an engineer. His daughter says he “lived for his wife and children”.

“He died proud of us all.  Family was everything to him,” Elizabeth said.

“He was married to his one true love, my mother for 56 years and he loved her with all his heart.

“He told me marrying her was the best thing he had done with his life.”

She continued: “He was a mad film buff, loved cakes and listening to the music of Mario Lanza and Johnny Mathis.

“He was a keen gardener and great orator, never short of a story to tell. He really could talk the hind legs off a donkey, given the chance.”

“He will forever be missed.”

Elizabeth, who grew up in Hackney for the first 12 years of her life and attended Clapton Girls School is a poet, “first and foremost”, and is in the process of writing a novel. She is currently setting up an online business called I Give You My Word where she will write original poems for weddings and funerals.

In Spirit

I have left the earth,

But I am still about,

I kiss your cheek at night,

When your light is out.


I am the wind,

That blows in your hair,

I am spirit now,

I am near.


I sit on your shoulder,

I see all that you do,

My body is gone,

Still my love is with you.


When times are tough,

I hold your hand,

You are never alone,

Together we stand.


If you are in trouble,

I shall help you out,

I am your instinct

When you doubt.


I am the angel

Assigned to you,

You will never be alone,

For I am next to you.

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