Arthur Torrington CBE: Keeper of the Windrush Flame

Saturday 10th June

Arthur Torrington CBE is known for his substantial and tireless work researching, collecting, and archiving the histories of Caribbean people in Britain, and his work as Director and Co-Founder of the Windrush Foundation and Equiano Society.


For the first half of this event Arthur will be in conversation with the respected British television and radio presenter Diane Louise Jordan. Together they will reflect on Arthur’s legacy and how he would like to be remembered through his established career of over 50 years. They will explore Arthur’s life growing up in British Guiana and his arrive in the UK, his numerous accomplishments as a long standing Windrush champion, a youth leader and radio broadcaster during the 70s, promoter of Black Gospel music in the 80s including the Clark Sisters, Brooke Benton, and the Edwin Hawkins singers, his commitment to the remarkable achievements of Black Britons such as Olaudah Equiano and Ignatius Sancho, and his international connections to commemorate special historic figures including a recent visit to Barbados to help establish a monument to the 1816 Bussa rebellion.

Unfortunately, due to ill health John Richards will not be in attendance, therefore for the second half of the event Arthur and Diane will instead discuss the extraordinary life of Windrush pioneer John Richards. They will explore his life from working on contract on American farms in the mid 1940s, and why, after his return to Jamaica he decided to purchase a one-way ticket to England? The event will acknowledge John and his achievements through the widely disseminated photographs (Getty), films (Pathe & BBC) of him wearing his US-made suit during and after his journey on HMT Empire Windrush, and a recent video and book dedicated to his life. On arrival into the UK John shared temporary accommodation with other arrivals at the Clapham South Deep Shelter, later he had a 40-year career with British Rail, loved cricket, football, and dominoes, and is a founder member of Learie Constantine Centre, in Northwest London.

Arthur Torrington CBE is a community advocate, co-founder (with the late Sam B. King MBE) of Windrush Foundation and The Equiano Society, which they established in 1996 in London. Through Windrush Foundation, a registered charity, Arthur designs projects that celebrate the heritage of African and Caribbean people in Britain. Both organisations publicise the contributions of African and West Indians who settled in the UK before and after the arrival of Motor Vessel Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948. In 2002, HRM Queen Elisabeth II awarded Arthur a OBE for his Windrush work and, in 2011, a CBE for his work on Olaudah Equiano. In 2011, Arthur founded African Heritage Forum, an organisation that celebrates and publicises the history and heritage of African peoples in Ancient Egypt.

Diane Louise Jordan is one of the most recognisable faces and voices in Britain. She made front-page news as the first black presenter of BBC1’s legendary, multi- award-winning show Blue Peter and the first black presenter of BBC’s long-running Songs of Praise. Diane is respected for her Royal alliances and has held several trustee positions over the years, including sitting on the board of The Prince’s Trust and the BBC’s highly acclaimed Children in Need.

Her wide-reaching appeal was a deciding factor in former British Premier Gordon Brown’s invitation for her to sit on The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee – the first and only TV celebrity asked to do so. Diane became part of the original board of The Diana Awards, one of the memorials attributed to the late Princess.

When Diane’s sister suddenly died in 1989, Diane became a single parent to her two-year-old niece. This experience was the catalyst for her extensive research into the effects of developmental and generational trauma, as well as her advocacy and mentoring work to combat the increasing levels of family breakdown which adversely affects a person’s ability to thrive. Diane is dedicated to producing initiatives and programmes that build the family and leave a legacy.