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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Windrush exhibition sparks major college heritage project

An exhibition celebrating the bravery and achievements of the ‘Windrush generation’ has encouraged Telford College students to find out more about their own family histories.

Dan Blasczyk with some of the Telford College students who have taken part in the heritage project linked to the Windrush exhibition
Dan Blasczyk with some of the Telford College students who have taken part in the heritage project linked to the Windrush exhibition

The Windrush Exhibition Telford & Wrekin, honouring families who travelled thousands of miles to help rebuild post-war Britain, has been hosted by the college since November, and runs at the Haybridge campus until January 14.

Alongside the exhibition, Telford College also launched an intergenerational heritage project – described as a ‘journey of discovery’ encouraging students to learn more about other generations of their own families.

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Dan Blasczyk, the college’s student engagement officer, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the submissions that students have sent in after taking part. They have been discovering new things about their family members and traditions, which was one of the main aims of this project.

“Hosting the exhibition in our student hub has had a really positive impact on our students who have told us they feel it’s important to discuss the contributions of the Windrush generation.

“They have also revealed that it has made them reflect on the importance of the skilled trades they are currently developed such as nursing, construction and engineering.”

As part of their project, students were encouraged to interview family members about their culture and traditions, first weekly wage, skills developed over a lifetime, food, music and religion – and to reflect on how the world has changed.

Joshua Bickford-Smith, one of the college’s foundation students, took the chance to find out more about his grandparents and feed his findings into the exhibition.

He said: “I never knew that my grandma was born in India and that she enjoyed travelling to different countries.

“I also found out about my grandad’s life – he made a difference by contributing to his local community, and his legacy still continues as he played a massive role in being a positive role model for others.

“We live in a diverse world, and I think it’s important to educate yourself on your family and friends, and how they contributed to their heritage.”

The exhibition and the college project have prompted an outpouring of praise, both from college students and from the many local people who have visited.

Writing in the visitor book, Georgina Bennett said: “It was lovely to be able to read people’s stories and find out about their journey to England. It felt proud to see my nan on the wall, and that thousands of people will read her story.”

Natasha Rickford wrote: “’It was lovely to see a few of the faces who have departed. A nice trip down memory lane. Thank you to Telford College for putting this exhibition together.”

Childcare student Zharnae Wright said: “The exhibition in the student hub is really nice to see, as personally I have family members on the wall and I think it’s good that heritage and history is being discussed.” Telford College’s student council president Andreea Moise added: “It’s important that the college organises events and projects like this. By interviewing a family member it has highlighted what people had to do to get where they are today.”

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