Sam King MBE

Community Awards

Sam was born in Portland Jamaica in 1926. He worked with his father on the family farm with every intention of eventually taking over after his dad retired. When World War 2 was declared IN 1939 he was still at school and had an interest in everything that was going on in Britain.

His headmaster would keep the pupils informed on how the war was progressing. After leaving school he responded to an advert in the Gleaner Newspaper for the Royal Air Force Volunteers and was successful.


Sam King | © Coral


Soon afterwards Sam travelled to Kingston with other recruits to receive intensive training before sailing to England. The journey was an adventure as they had to evade German submarines and experienced cold weather for the first time something he never forgot. After 3 months of training in Yorkshire they were split into categories for ground crew training- He was posted to the Fighter station RAF Hawkinge near Folkestone.

When the War ended most of the Caribbean Servicemen and Women were demobbed and returned to their homes in the Caribbean. Sam was not happy with life in Jamaica and took the opportunity of travelling back to England on the Empire Windrush. He re-joined the RAF and later worked as a manager for the general Post Office (now the Royal Mail)

Sam Joined the Labour party in the early 1950’s. During that decade he worked with Claudia Jones and was a member of the committee that organised the first West Indian carnival in London in 1959. In 1983 he became the first Black Mayor of the London borough of Southwark.

In 1984 Sam and Arthur Torrington began working together and established the Windrush Foundation a leading organisation that keeps alive the memories of the young women and men that were among the first post war Caribbean settlers.

Sam also collaborated with Arthur in 1996 to form The Equiano Society, a charitable organisation whose objective is to publicise and celebrate the life and work of Olaudah Equiano who lived in Britain in the 18th century. Sam published his autobiography titled ‘Climbing up the rough side of the mountain’ which is still available. Sam passed in 2016 and was honoured by the Borough of Southwark with his funeral being held at Southwark cathedral.


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