Herdle White: a Windrush migrant in a whirlwind time

By Luke Smith and Ruairi O’Connor

Herdle White

Herdle White was invited to move to the UK from Jamaica in 1959 (Photo: Ruairi O’Connor)

Changing your country and lifestyle is always a difficult upheaval, even if it is for a better life. However, how does it feel when, fifty years after coming over to the UK, you’re told you’re not really a citizen at all? Worse still, you never have been…

In the wake of the recent Windrush scandal, in which the government has threatened to deport hundreds of West Indians, we spoke to Herdle White, the longest serving Afro-Caribbean DJ in the BBC, about his experiences and reaction.

The Empire Windrush ship carried thousands of people from the Caribbean islands in 1948 to England, invited to settle here to help Britain tackle huge post-war labour shortages.

But it has now emerged documents such as landing cards proving their British citizenship were destroyed by the Government, making it harder for many to battle against moves being made for their deportation.

Herdle White has lived in Leicester since 1959 when he came over to the UK from Jamaica, working at the BBC for fifty years. He began work for BBC Radio Leicester doing a five minute Caribbean roundup, which has evolved into The Sound Of The Caribbean.

“I came over here in 1959 at a time when Britain was asking people from the Commonwealth, and especially the Caribbean islands, to come over. After World War Two there was a huge shortage of labour in this country, so people came over to plug the gaps.

“There were actually adverts in the Caribbean papers begging people to come over here to work, so lots of people came over, and lots of people came over during the World War, then went back to the Caribbean when it ended, and they ended up coming back over here too!

“In those days, everybody arrived with a British passport, you were a British citizen, and you were coming to the motherland to come and help the mother getting out of their difficulties, so you came with the British passport with no idea that in modern day you would be faced with deportation and all of the hassle that our people going through.

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Herdle White is the longest serving Afro-Caribbean DJ in the BBC, presenting with BBC Radio Leicester for over 50 years (Photo: Luke Smith)

“When Jamaica became independent in 1962, I decided that I’d lived here long enough to take on British citizenship, which lots of people did do. It didn’t enter anybody’s mind that fifty years on you would be told that you’re not British. It is very, very distressing for lots of people.

“Not in your wildest dream would you have thought you’d be in this situation and I cannot understand why people should be going through all of this, they’ve lived in the country for fifty or sixty years, what’s the point in putting people through all of this now!

“People now can’t get NHS treatment, can’t get any benefits, you pay your tax and you can’t collect your pension, all because of some missing paperwork, and I think this is absolutely outrageous and most of the Caribbean people I’ve spoken to are really angry.

“I spoke to some people on my radio show on Saturday night, and it was an Afro-Caribbean woman who used to live in Leicester who now lives in Jamaica, so I asked her what people were feeling over there and she said that people were mad as hell. It’s a racist attitude and totally wrong.

“They’re telling us that you’ve got to go back to a country where you now don’t know anybody and you’ve got all your family over here, children, wives, grandchildren, great grandchildren even!

“I believe that the ten thousand or so missing bits of paperwork that have brought about this issue were destroyed deliberately. I also believe that because of the Eastern European migrants coming in, the government now realise that there are maybe too many people in the country and that they think the Caribbean people will be a soft touch so they thought “ah well we’ll get rid of those 50,000 people that came over here” and then they can say that they’ve brought down immigration.”

The integrity of the decisions made has also been questioned because many of the members of the Windrush generation are of retirement age and are collecting their pension, so it has been suggested it could be an attempt to bring in younger immigrants with an ability to work a trade and pay taxes, rather than collect pensions and retire.

“With all these things happening and still most of the MPs don’t understand what is going on, and it’s totally wrong,” Herdle added.

“It’s not like we came over here illegally, we were actually asked to come over and work, and now they want to send us back! We have a British passport to prove we’re citizens and now we’re being told that we’re not and it’s wrong. For me as a black person, I automatically think that the reason they’re doing this is because I’m black, and that’s the way people think.”

Whilst Herdle is part of the Windrush generation, and whilst his generation of people are currently having their citizenship questioned, he insisted that Britain is still his country and will always feel like home.

“Although people are obviously very angry about this situation, we still feel like this is our country. They wouldn’t want to go back to the Caribbean. You live sixty years of your life here and it’s wrong to send people back.

“The Prime Minister has stated that all of the people affected by Windrush will be compensated, so it is now the responsibility of the Caribbean governments to make sure that the message that is given is passed on and implemented.”

‘How can they do this to us?’ elders of the African Caribbean Centre in Leicester ask

Elders have reacted with dismay to the Windrush scandal which emerged this week.

The Empire Windrush ship carried thousands of people from the Caribbean islands in 1948 to England, invited to settle here to help Britain tackle huge post-war labour shortages.

But it has now emerged documents such as landing cards proving their British citizenship were destroyed by the Government, making it harder for many to battle against moves being made for their deportation.

Rorna Pryc, 65, who first came from Jamaica in 1964, said: “They’re telling us to go back home and I can’t see what sense that makes.

“My Uncle came here as a bus driver and wife and when she came here she became a nurse and had a family. They are British.”

Iona Benjamin, also from Jamaica, said: “We’re not angry. I think it’s very shameful. We all came here on a British passport. They’re telling us to go home and I can’t see what sense that makes.”

Top barbecue tips to enjoy in the sun

By Ross Barnett

With the temperatures to hit over 20oC this weekend spring has almost definitely started. Adam Young, chef at Grill Stock, provided some tips for having a barbecue.

Adam served me a sample dish containing hot sausage, pulled pork and a beef brisket washed down with a pint of Budweiser.

“We use smokers so the meat is cooked at a slow pace” said Adam, “slow cooking adds so much more flavour so I would recommend every having a barbecue to use this method.

30704540_1743118592414328_8039456600836014080_n.jpg“We use hickory smokers which heats itself and smokes throughout the oven to cook the food. Once it reaches the desired temperature it switches off but will turn back on if the temperature drops. That’s why it’s so vital to keep the door closed.”

Adam insisted that this can be done from home: “There are commercial smokers that you can buy but it also can be done by building a clay oven. Do not overheat it. Get a starting flame but do not keep your meat too close to the flame or it will ruin the taste.”

Adam added: “Our chicken ribs would take about four hours to cook. A brisket will take about 12 hours while it would be 14-16 hours for the pork.”

“Some people go for a wet marinade or a dry rub to go over the meat. Wet marinade will give a clean texture while a dry rub is just there to add flavour and consists of herbs and spices.

“A dry rub does not add any texture but that’s ok if you are trying for a barbecue with flavour.”

Game of Thrones 7th Anniversary: What do you think?

GOT photo

By Ruairi O’Connor

Game of Thrones celebrates its 7th anniversary today, so we asked a few De Montfort University students what their favourite moments from the smash-hit HBO show.

“My favourite moment from Game of Thrones so far was when Ned Stark was killed because it was a massive shock. I haven’t read the books and they built him up to be a main character and had a great story arc, bit of a surprise.”  – Talhah Mulla, 22, Biomedical Science student.

“My favourite moment from Game of Thrones is when Jamie Lannister pushed Bran Stark from a window, after he found Jamie and his sister Cersei, having sex. It was two shocking revelations in one!” – Kiran Bal, 20, Accounting and Finance student.

“My favourite moment from Game of Thrones is the ‘Battle of the Bastards’ because it was the culmination of events that were building for multiple seasons. It was visually stunning and a kept you on the edge of your seat.” – James Sampson-Brinkley, 19, Games Programming.”

“My favourite moment from Game of Thrones was when Ramsay Bolton is finally killed because Sansa gets her revenge on him by making sure he is eaten alive” – Ali Morgan, 20, Mechanical Engineering.

Leicester choir raise the roof in Britain’s Got Talent audition

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By Conor de Smith

A gospel choir from Leicester got the backing of all four Britain’s Got Talent judges after a “heavenly” audition on the hit television show.

De Montfort University (DMU) Gospel Choir’s January audition was shown last Saturday evening on ITV.

The 23 on-stage performers gave a rousing rendition of ‘Oh Happy Day’ and impressed the judging panel of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon – who all gave their seal of approval.

The singers dressed in striking blue and gold gowns while one wore a black shirt and a DMU football club tie.

Source | Britain’s Got Talent YouTube.

Pop star Alesha Dixon said: “Praise the Lord! That was uplifting, joyful, powerful, heavenly”, while Simon Cowell said: “Maybe this is a time where we need this positivity. It’s made me feel great”.

Ellah Kandi is a social work student at DMU and has been a member of the choir, which was approached by BGT to audition last year, for a number of years.

Miss Kandi said: “We were all very excited but of course we were nervous because we wanted to do well. We were amazed that we were approached by BGT to audition last year.

“Normally we practice once per week but we were doing it every evening in the build-up to the audition. The choir gives us a chance to have a break from our studies and is something we all enjoy as a group.”

Gospel choirs have been a regular feature on the popular prime-time entertainment show in the last few years. ‘100 Voices of Gospel’ reached the final of the competition in 2016 while Revelation Avenue received the ‘Golden Buzzer’ in 2015.

DMU Gospel Choir regularly appears in front of huge crowds including performing at the King Power Stadium with rock band Kasabian, the Alice Hawkins statue unveiling in Leicester and on Sky Sports. Miss Kandi believes people listen to their music to forget about their problems and is glad the group has the backing of the city.

“We are really soulful and I think it’s lovely for people to escape the gloom in the world sometimes, and they can do that with our uplifting music,” she said.

“The support we have been getting from the public and the university has been amazing. We have received really positive comments from so many people since the audition aired.”

The choir is currently waiting to discover if they have made the semi-finals which are expected to take place in late May.