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First black sergeant in the RAF to speak at West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds




The first black sergeant to join the RAF is to speak to students at a Bury St Edmunds college.

Derrick Bobbington Thomas, 84, moved to England from British Guiana in 1957, as part of what was called the Windrush generation.

He will be at West Suffolk College this Friday to discuss his own personal history.

Derrick Bobbington Thomas, the first black sergeant in the RAF, is giving a talk at West Suffolk College on Friday. Picture: Derrick Bobbington Thomas.
Derrick Bobbington Thomas, the first black sergeant in the RAF, is giving a talk at West Suffolk College on Friday. Picture: Derrick Bobbington Thomas.

The event will also include a discussion from the Windrush Commemoration Committee.

The talk was organised by Ellisha Soanes, health and social care lecturer and equality and diversity digital coordinator at the college.

She said: "I’ve spoken to groups of young people in the past who hadn’t heard of the Windrush generation, therefore events like this can help keep memories of this incredible moment in our history alive.

Ellisha Soanes, health and social care lecturer and equality and diversity digital coordinator at West Suffolk College. Picture: Ellisha Soanes.
Ellisha Soanes, health and social care lecturer and equality and diversity digital coordinator at West Suffolk College. Picture: Ellisha Soanes.

“We can’t wait for Derrick and others to share their stories and we would like to thank them all for supporting this event,” she added.

The event on Friday precedes a number of other sessions to be held at West Suffolk College from next Tuesday to Friday celebrating individuals from the black community.

The 'Untold Heroes' event, again organised by Ellisha Soanes, will feature notable speakers including Leroy Logan and Alex Wheatle, who recently had their stories made into a BBC movie called Small Axe.

The movie was directed by Oscar-winner Steve McQueen, known for films such as 12 Years a Slave and Hunger.

Affy Green from Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives. Picture: Affy Green.
Affy Green from Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives. Picture: Affy Green.

Affy Green from Bury St Edmunds for Black Lives will be at the event as well.

She said: "I am honoured to receive the certificate of appreciation (for attending this event).

"It has given me the confidence boost to keep striving for equality even when faced with adversity.”

West Suffolk College - Gateway building.
West Suffolk College - Gateway building.

The 'Untold Heroes' event has been organised as part of an ongoing commitment to teach black history all year round at the college.

For more information on the events, go to: https://www.wsc.ac.uk/

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

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