• Reading Level 5

Age 11 – 13: Winner

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Liam Merchant, Winchmore School

Winner of the 11 – 13 age category, Celebration Day writing competition 2022

My Granny was born in St Lucia in the Caribbean in 1947. The person who inspired her the most in her childhood was her Dad, my Great Grandad. Many people will think of photos they have seen on the TV or in magazines and think St Lucia is really beautiful with its blue sparkly sea and white sand. I have visited the village where they grew up and it was shocking and humbling to see the tiny hut they lived in and that the sea was their bath.

My Great Grandad had 12 children. Granny said that he worked extremely hard to support his family. Even though it was a struggle with the long hours of blood, sweat and tears, he was always happy and tried to be optimistic during soul-breaking times. My Great-Grandad would feel bad about not having enough money and when they didn’t have food he felt upset at his inability to help his family. My Great-Grandad’s main phrase was, “if you want to achieve anything you have to work hard,” which he showed consistently during his 101-year life. Yes, he lived 101 years and I met him lots which I am really proud of even though he was deaf and blind by then.

Moving to London in 1961 post Windrush my Great-Grandad over the years built up enough money as a labourer, and even though it was a hard job with not a lot of pay, he sent for his kids one by one from St Lucia. My Granny described that moving to England was a ”cultural shock”, and a ” big difference in the weather ”. Everyone took time to adjust over a span of many months due to the rainy weather being far different from the bright rays of sunshine of the Caribbean.

There was lots of racism as a lot of people didn’t like having diversity and having Black people ‘invading their country’ and ‘stealing their jobs’. My Granny described that at the bus stops people would look at their feet, (probably expecting them to be poor and have no shoes) and people would use horrible slurs and words. But even though racism was a problem that weighed down on them, my Great-Grandad still cheered everyone up. He was described as the light of the room, he was very chirpy and had a fun comedic character. My Granny said that whenever you were around him you’d never feel lonely.

His favourite foods were green bananas, plantain, fish and Dashain. He loved cricket and always dressed super smart with a hat. He also loved Soca music and would jump to the beat and dance making everyone laugh. He taught my Granny and her sibling’s respect and politeness. Growing up even though they didn’t have money they always had good manners. He was always there for his loved ones and respected everyone. He was dynamic and fabulous and I am proud I have his name Pierre as my middle name always.

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