Windrush 75: The reality of competing for Team GB as victim of Windrush scandal

ITV News Central Sport correspondent Dan Salisbury-Jones speaks to Olympian Judy Simpson about her struggle of getting a British passport.

Olympian Judy Simpson was once Britain's best all-round female athlete, loved in stadiums and later on TV as Nightshade in Gladiators.

As part of ITV News Central's coverage commemorating the 75th anniversary of Windrush, Judy joined me at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium to reflect on her family's experience of moving to the Midlands from the Caribbean, as well as the many highlights and challenges of her life and career.

Born in Jamaica in 1960, she migrated to Britain in her mother's arms at just six months old.

The family wanted a better education for their children and set up their new life in Rugby, Warwickshire.

Judy migrated to Britain in her mother's arms at just six months old.

Judy said: "To come from such a beautiful place with such fantastic weather to come to here, to be abused by people left, right and centre was really a huge sacrifice.

"And so when we went to school, it was a job of work. We had to get the best we could out of school."

She says she once struck out at another pupil having run out of patience with being called a highly offensive racial slur repeatedly. She was the only black child in her class.

But the family also used humour to deal with certain situations.

On a day out in Wales, they pulled up at a petrol station and all the people there just stared at them. It was uncomfortable and made the children scared. Judy's father had a plan.

"Dad went to pay for the petrol and he just went 'boo!' and made him jump. We all laughed heartily in the car, it dispelled the atmosphere of being put upon or being made to feel bad or different."

'I thought I could get a British passport, but they told me no.'

For 17 years Judy did not leave Britain so had no need for a passport. That was until she was selected to represent Great Britain at a tournament in Switzerland in 1977.

"I thought I could get a British passport, but they told me, oh no, you have a British passport. I said, But I'm, I'm competing for Great Britain. What do you mean I can't have a British passport?

"Anyway, I went on a Jamaican passport for my first few internationals in the UK.

"And of course when you come back now we're all a team together. And then, they go through the British passport and I have to go through the other nationalities queue and they had to wait for ages for me to get through it."

Judy did eventually get a passport after many months of trying but she points out the white South African Zola Budd would later get one "in two shakes of a cat's tale".

South Africans were banned from competing because of Apartheid at the time but the British Government made special arrangements to get Budd a passport in just weeks so she could represent GB.

Whilst Judy raised an eyebrow at that decision, the Windrush Scandal in recent years simply left her angry.

"Absolutely, totally wrong that people who had been living here far longer than I had. Because remember when I had my to do about a passport, I was about 17 or 18.

"People have been here and they were 45 and 50 and people telling them they weren't British, but where's all those taxes gone?

"Have they gone into a Swiss bank account? No, it's gone to Britain and of course I'm British."

She points out that had she not needed to compete abroad, she could well have been caught up in the scandal herself.

Judy believes there is a lack of recognition of the contribution of people of Caribbean heritage outside of high profile areas like sport.

"There are lots of other areas that don't get the TV attention that sport does. I know black lawyers, black pilots, lots of different areas.

"But because they don't get on the telly, you don't see them, but they're there and they're providing encouragement to young people today in Britain."

Few will have had such an impact on others as Judy though. I end the interview by saying she's had an incredible life and she agrees. "Yes, I have, I've been very blessed."

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "The whole of government is committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush. Already we have paid or offered more than £72 million in compensation to those affected, but we know there is more to do.

"Our priority is to award the maximum compensation at the earliest point possible.

"However, each person’s claim is deeply personal to the person who has made it. It is right that each claim should be looked at and processed with the utmost care and sensitivity so that the maximum amount they are entitled to can be paid out.

"Changes we have made to the scheme since its launch mean people now receive significantly more money more quickly."

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