Online Editions

9th Dec, 2021

Former trainee nurse whose husband helped build Coventry Cathedral following blitz says Windrush scandal 'tore her life apart'

Laura Kearns 4th Apr, 2019 Updated: 4th Apr, 2019

A FORMER Warwick Hospital trainee nurse whose husband helped build Coventry Cathedral following the blitz wishes she had never come to the UK after being caught up in the Windrush scandal.

Iciline Brown told The Observer her life had been ‘torn apart’ after being stripped of her British passport.

She moved to Leamington in the 1950s with husband-to-be Gersham having arrived as part of the ‘Windrush generation’ – named after the first ship which docked in the UK from the Caribbean in response to post-war labour shortages.

Iciline called the country home for nearly 40 years, raising a family here. Gersham, a former Warwick district councillor, even helped build Coventry’s new cathedral in the 1950s.

When Iciline retired to Jamaica after being widowed in 1991, she planned to regularly return to Britain to see her four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

But in 2017 she was stripped of her British passport in the political scandal, meaning the whole family had to fly to Portugal where they could legally spend Christmas together.

Last year Iciline was allowed into the country on a two year visa while the family worked to secure her a ‘biometric card’ – allowing her to come and go from the country she once called home.

But the 82-year-old says the whole experience has left a ‘bitter taste’ and she now wishes she had never come to the UK to help the country re-build after the Second World War.

Iciline – who plans to return to the Caribbean in March – told the Observer: “I would not have come here to begin with if I knew it would come to this. We felt British back in those days and that we belonged, were welcomed and needed, but now we have been told we are intruding and we need to get lost.

“We are not wanted, but the privilege is now being taken from me to come and see my children and grandchildren who still live here.

“It causes great distress and makes me angry. It makes my heart ache.

“My kids were born here, and not being able to pop by when I would like and for us to be together does not give me a good feeling at all.

“I don’t want to move back to the UK but want the freedom to come back to see my family and stay as long as I want.”

Iciline’s children are battling to get their mum a biometric card and were shocked when the government gave them just two days to compile 60 years worth of documents and data needed to apply.

But daughter Monica, who lives in Warwick Gates, say their treatment has not been as bad as some of the Windrush scandal victims.

Monica said: “Our suffering is nothing compared to those who have lost their jobs and homes and been put in detention centres.

“I went to Jamaica in October to get my mum and discovered three people who were deported had died in Jamaica after being in the UK for decades. Some hadn’t been to Jamaica for 30 years. They got out there and couldn’t access medication and had no family, friends or support network.

“Myself and my brothers have taken on the fight on to protect mum so I understand why so many give up. It’s exhausting. It’s not something mum could take on. So many people fold under the pressure, but we will not give up quietly.”

On the back of the scandal prime minister Theresa May apologised about the ‘anguish’ caused by the threat of deportation and said the government ‘valued’ the contribution of the Windrush generation and they had a right to stay in the UK.

Printing

We can provide all of your printing needs at competitive rates.

Public Notices

View and download all of the public notices in the Leamington Observer.

Digital Advertising

Advertise on the Leamington Observer to boost your online presence.

Subscribe

Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.