Campaigner and creator of the Windrush Foundation

Born: February 20, 1926;

Died: June 17, 2016

SAM King, who has died aged 90, was a Jamaican immigrant who made an extraordinary contribution to changing British attitudes to race: he was the first black mayor of the London borough of Southwark, he co-founded the festival that became the Notting Hill Carnival and he established the Windrush Foundation, which celebrates the first post-war wave of settlers from the Caribbean.

King himself sailed on the Empire Windrush in 1948, paying around £1000 in today’s prices, and remembers struggling to adapt at first to the temperature in Scotland.

"I left Portland, Jamaica, in temperatures of 75F. I landed at Greenock, which was 39F. I thought I was going to die,” he said. "You had to wrap yourself up and keep warm as much as possible."

He had lived most of his life on his father’s banana farm, although during the war he volunteered for the RAF and was stationed at RAF Hawkinge, where he worked as an engineer repairing bombers.

After the war, he contemplated staying on in Britain but recalls that attitudes suddenly seemed to change. "When we were in the uniform you're reasonably respected,” he said. “When the war was over they said, 'What are you doing here? You should go home.' I came to help them and now that they have their freedom they said I should go home."

He did go back to Jamaica but struggled to settle again on the farm and paid for his passage on the Windrush. Once in the UK, he volunteered again for the RAF before becoming a postman, a job he held for 34 years.

By the 1950s, he was heavily involved in local life in Camberwell, becoming treasurer for the first Caribbean Festival which was held at St Pancras Hall in January 1959 – it eventually became the Notting Hill Festival, which began in 1966 and is now the biggest Caribbean festival in the country.

He was also an active member of the Labour party and in 1983 was asked to be the party’s candidate for mayor of Southwark. He won the vote overwhelmingly and became the area’s first black mayor, in the face of abuse and death threats.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr King had changed the face of London for the better.

"He was man who arrived on the Windrush and started working like many Jamaicans did in the area and then decided something had to be done good for the community in terms of carnival.

"He educated Londoners with Caribbean food, Caribbean culture, Caribbean music. London is a better place, Britain is a better place thanks to him and his family."

Mr King was also involved in several other projects: he was a driving force behind Britain’s first black newspaper The West Indian Gazette; he started up a black gospel radio station in Brixton; and he was director of the Windrush Foundation, which campaigns to preserve the history of the arrival of the Windrush settlers and celebrate their contribution to British life.

Mr King was predeceased by his first wife Mavis and is survived by his second Mertle.