Patrick Vernon interviews Eileen O. Walkin who has dedicated life to her faith and local causes
What was your early childhood?
I was born in the beautiful island of Barbados in a loving Christian household where I was the second oldest out of eight siblings.
What was your motivation coming to England?
I had been working for many years after completing my studies working for the civil service covering areas around criminal justice system and the treasury, however I was keen to complete my studies in law. I was very lucky as my parents agreed to sponsor and pay for my full times studies in England.
What was early years in England?
Yes, I can remember coming to England on the 12th of September 1965 arriving in to Heathrow via New York. That day was cloudy and cool where I met Mr Harrison a representative from the British Council who took to London to my temporary student accommodation in Kensington. I eventually moved to my permanent address in Conyers Road in Streatham living with Mr and Mrs Westman. After all these years I still have fond memories living there and South London especially Lambeth became place of residency for many years. I studies law at college and university where I gained a BA and MA in Law.
Do you have a family?
I am very lucky to have fallen in love and meet my husband Newton from Turks and Caicos Islands. After all these decades together, he is still the ‘apple of my eye’ our love is still strong that we first meet each on a marketing course. He is now a respected Christian author and preacher. We have no children.
What was career until your retirement?
I had a long and distinguished career working for the Crown Agents and the Civil Service. My role at Crown Agents range from working in marketing department to public liaison supporting various countries front desk in Africa, Asia as well as Helena Island. My job also at times involved overseas travel. In the Civil Service I was based in Citizens Charter Unit established by John Major who was then the Prime Minster. My final role prior to retirement was working for the Parliamentary Works office dealing with inter- departmental issues.
You have been retired for many years but it that you are busy with various voluntary and community activities?
I have had numerous roles over the years which I now realise I work longer hours compared to the time I was in full time employment. I have been a School Governor for Broadmead School, one of the founding volunteers for “Spiral’ homeless and drop centre at St Leonards Church in Tooting in 1990. I also volunteer for eight years at West Croydon Refugee Day Centre supporting refugees and asylum seekers. In the same building I got involved with ‘Cold Weather Floating Shelter’ where we provide food and recreational activities. Other organisations that I have volunteered: Carers UK Croydon branch, The Barbados Oversea Womens League, Croydon Streets Champion plus many others. However, my church life and faith as a Christian has always been important to me as part of my resilience and survival. One of my ambitions which I hope to complete in the next few years is my PhD on Christianity and the rise of Pentecostal church movement in the UK which is a key legacy of Windrush Generation which I am proud to be part of.
How have you been recognised for your work?
I have been very luck over the years to recognised for working in the community which I feel very touched and honoured to receive British Community Honours Award, Ambassador for Peace United Nations, and Ambassador for Peace Europe.
What is view on the current situation with the Windrush Generation treated by the Home Office as illegal immigrants even though they are British Citizens?
It is very sad the way that Windrush Generation and their children have been treated in this way despite all the contributions we have made in this country over the decades. I hope the government will take the necessary measures to rectify this problem.
Find out more about Eileen Walkin ‘Black British- A celebration’ (edited by Norma Wilkinson and published by The Brixton Society