From NNEB to MBE

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending my investiture at Windsor Castle, accompanied by my mum and my sons.

I went on to have a scrumptious lunch with close family and friends.

I was awarded the MBE in the Queens New Year Honours list in 2021 for services to education. I waited until now to receive my award because of the pandemic and my wish to take the three most important people to me in the world.

I was in total shock when I read the email in November 2020, I wondered what the shy, dyslexic girl from Notting Hill would think of the grown-up Laura. I think she would be super proud.

My MBE is for my gran, mum and other relatives who arrived on the boat from St Lucia, each with their one suitcase. It is important to remember that they were not immigrants: at the time when they arrived in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s, St Lucia was a state of the UK. My family, and many others who came from the different states, have contributed so much to the UK and it is right and just that I accept my award for them. I wish they were here to see what I and other family members have achieved. I have tears rolling down my face as I am writing this.

I can’t write this without giving a special mention to my gran (the original Gran Gran, who I based JoJo and Gran Gran on). Although she gained her angel wings in 2009 aged 101, her spirit is with me always, and yesterday I wore some of the jewellery that she gifted me. Also, my gran was a seamstress, so I had my dress made with a touch of St Lucian flair, including madras material. October is Black History Month, my gran’s birthday month as well as two St Lucian festivals – La Marguerite Flower Festival and Jounen Kwéyòl. I couldn’t have wished for another month to have my investiture.

A big thank you to the many family, friends and colleagues who I have worked with and who have supported me throughout my career. Equally, to whoever nominated me for this honour.

I will continue to tell stories through my books, television and speaking that are based on my lived experience and that of the Windrush generation, stories that are filled with passion, love and soul, and that aim to challenge negative stereotypes and fight racism with positivity.

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