Thameslink’s oldest employee, 82-year-old station assistant Siggy Cragwell, was a guest of honour at the unveiling of the National Windrush Monument last week [Wednesday 22 June] at Waterloo Station where he met the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.
Siggy sat among other VIPs including the Duchess of Cambridge, the chairman of Network Rail and its chief executive, and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Baroness Floella Benjamin, who is chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee, recalled how she had arrived there, in Waterloo, as a little girl from the Caribbean.
She said: “The National Windrush Memorial will be part of the British Heritage and be seen by millions of people. It has created a figurative representation of the Windrush generation. It will evoke deep emotion and pride.”
After the unveiling, Siggy was introduced to Prince William who heard how he had come to the UK from Barbados 60 years ago and worked on the railways ever since. They also talked about their shared love of cricket.
Siggy said afterwards: “It was very, very good, I was quite happy to meet Prince William and speak to him. He was a relaxing kind of guy. I’ve had a wonderful day.”
Designed by renowned Jamaican artist Basil Watson, the Monument symbolises the courage, commitment and resilience of the thousands of men, women and children who travelled to the UK to start new lives from 1948 to 1971.
It acknowledges and celebrates the Windrush generation’s outstanding contribution and has been created as a permanent place of reflection, to foster greater understanding of the generation’s talent, hard work and continuing contribution to British society.
The three figures – a man, woman, and child – dressed in their “Sunday best” are climbing a mountain of suitcases together, demonstrating the inseparable bond of the Windrush pioneers and their descendants, and the hopes and aspirations of their generation as they arrive to start new lives in the UK.
Since Siggy’s railway career began 60 years ago, he has worked at Marylebone, Bedford, St Albans and Luton stations, and has been a popular figure at Elstree & Borehamwood since 2002.
Lead photo – Siggy Cragwell, Thameslink’s oldest employee, talks railway history and cricket with Prince William.Photo credit: GTR