Significant sacrifices of migrants centuries ago

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MUCH is being said about mass immigration to Britain.

Media editors imply the present rate in numbers of immigration is doing great harm. It is true there is such a thing as over-saturation in local populations.

For at least 800 years foreign individuals and families uprooted themselves and made Britain home - usually to escape persecution and deprivation.

They rightly regarded Britain as an openly democratic and tolerant country.

In modern times immigration tends to introduce resentment and confusion among citizens and the political elite.

While many of foreign extract are prepared to work hard, some are not as motivated and migrate to Britain to take advantage of benefits, free health care and avoid work if they can.

However, this is also true of increasing numbers of British citizens ruled by the desire to get something for nothing.

For hundreds of years, the Fen country served as a magnet for colonists, and the flatland benefited immensely from influx of migrants.

Moreover, in the past Britain hugely benefited from migrants to the Fens who were prepared to work industriously and not argue and strike.

The colonists settled in the 17th century at Whittlesey, Thorney, Parson Drove, French Drove, Wisbech and Guyhirn.

They were responsible for the draining and cultivation of Adventurers’ Fen between Whittlesey and Guyhirn and their skills are evident at several places in the Fens.

The intrepid adventurers settled in the Fens to work without fear of being molested by state and church as had been the unfortunate experience on the European continent.

In the Fens they were free to practice inherent skills and pursue their faith without threats of imprisonment, torture and death.

Through their skills of land management they bequeathed to the Fens and the English nation a matchless heritage, knowledgeably and practically assisting in the “impossible” drainage of our former watery region.

They purchased reclaimed land, and using technical knowledge derived in Europe, grew varieties of crops unsurpassed in the agricultural and horticultural annals of British farming history.

To call their contribution magnificent is an understatement.

In the initial stages migrants faced imponderable difficulties having invested everything in the drainage scheme.

It involved colossal risks and many became bankrupt facing a life time of poverty.

Several died in the dangerous tasks they had voluntarily undertaken.

Their surnames have passed down for posterity and can be regarded as a collective monument to the herculean tasks that confronted them.

What they did in the Fens, for the country they willingly adopted even to this day amounts to a significant achievement and the most beneficial of all projects by migrants to our country.

We, the English, and present day migrants should look up to the sacrifices and achievements of those intrepid people all those centuries ago.

TREVOR BEVIS

March