Croydon Windrush Garden is a tribute garden inspired by CACFO’s Chair, Cllr. Callton Young OBE, in celebration of local Windrush Pioneers, Heroes and Contributors to British society.
The Windrush Garden was opened on 22 June 2019 by Olympian, Donna Fraser OBE OLY, being the living embodiment its central message to local youngsters to ‘Dare to Dream’.
Born in Thornton Heath in 1972, a stone’s throw from the new garden, Donna Fraser became a World class 400m runner, competing in Commonwealth games, European and World Championship games and two Olympic games.
We were delighted, therefore, when she agreed to open Croydon Windrush Garden as it is located in the area where she, as a child, dared to dream of athletic success on the international stage.
The ‘Dare to Dream’ theme is underscored in the Garden by an artistic centre piece designed by Thornton Heath local and internationally acclaimed artist, Bareface.
Bareface has had an obsession with Pop Culture, Pop Art and Street Art since he was a young boy and, back then, dared to dream of producing large scale pieces of art that captivated the public’s imagination.
Now he regularly does just that, producing stunning public pieces of public art both at home and abroad – like his famous tribute to Amy Winehouse in Central Croydon in 2017.
In the Windrush Garden piece Bareface features his boy-self, painting his dreams from a ‘Windrush paint pot’, symbolically projecting his contribution to British Society as a descendant of the Windrush Generation in a recolouring of the Union Jack . It’s nothing short of pure genius.
Bareface also designed the Windrush Garden’s stunning branding, logo and display boards, to better exhibit selected examples of local Windrush Pioneers, Heroes and Contributors to British society. First up were the wonderful Windrush Charities founded by Windrush Pioneers trying to survive the hostile face of racism encountered in the ‘Mother country. Among them is the oldest credit union in the country, made a necessity because of the reluctance of banks to lend capital to Windrush Pioneers.
WWII veteran, Neil Flanigan MBE, was among the Windrush Heroes at the Windrush Garden launch. Born in Jamaica, Neil travelled to England in 1943 to join the Royal Air Force after seeing an advert in the Jamaican Gleaner. Upon arrival in England, he joined the ground crew at Bomber Command specialising in instrument repair, servicing aircraft such as Lancaster Bombers.
Neil is well decorated for his war service and shared his tales from WWII with many children at the opening of the Windrush Garden. They had read about him and others in a Black British History book written by Robin Walker, Vanika Marshall and others and felt privileged to meet the Windrush Hero in person. Click here to hear Neil recount his wartime experience.
Neil Flanigan, Donna Fraser and Bareface are among many Windrush heroes, pioneers and contributors featured in displays in Croydon Windrush Garden as role models to our young people of what can be achieved should they ‘Dare to Dream’.
Donna was honoured in 2019 when, along with former England football team manager Roy Hodgson, she was awarded the Freedom of the Borough.
Her local community was pleased to applaud that wonderful achievement and to add to it with a token of their own for Windrush Pioneers, Heroes and Contributors including Bareface and Neil Flanigan MBE.
Click here if you want to learn about the construction of Croydon Windrush Garden