The last three months have been unusually celebratory for the Freedom Passers.
The alternative Hamper. With help from JHERA funds and a lot of extras from well wishers, we provided “Christmas Treats” for 35 Freedom Passers. They were invited to chose what they liked from a list of fresh food including sausages and chickens “the size of turkeys” from Peter the butcher in Bethnal Green Road, home made mince pies, cakes donated by Captured By in Columbia Rd, bowls of fruit and a range of puddings & cheeses. The delivery boxes were topped up with posies of flowers made by a visitor to the area who was carried away with the Christmas Spirit. Packing and delivery was a wonderful group effort by regular helpers plus a team from Newman’s Stationers. Thanks to all who helped with shopping, packing and delivering at high speed a few days before Christmas.
Flossie Dix at 90. On 25th January fifteen of Flossie’s friends and neighbours squashed into Carol’s house to celebrate Flossie’s 90th birthday. Many of the guests, like Flossie, were born in JHERA territory and the photos on the JHERA website will show you that this was an unforgettable and historic moment. Flossie’s celebration was made extra special by the gift of a huge birthday cake from Pavilion Bakery on Columbia Road. There was enough cake left over for Flossie to share with her family later in the day and cake was also delivered to many of the Freedom Passers who couldn’t fit into the house. Again thanks to everyone who helped to make this such a happy event. (That includes a builder in Elwin Street who climbed up his ladder to knock on Flossie’s bedroom window, so we could call out to tell her to hurry up and come to her party!)
Traditional Roast Dinner at Laxeiro on 6th February. Once again Isobel and Leo gave up their free day to cook a really wonderful meal for 30 Freedom Passers. We ranged in age from 60 – 95 and the noise volume and enthusiasm would have outdone many a teenage rave! As well as 26 people in the restaurant, hot meals were delivered to 5 people who were unable to go out. A collection from the guests provided for Thank You plants for Isobel and Leo. But I think we all agreed that no plant is good enough to express the happiness of eating a good meal in company of people known for decades, but seldom having a chance to sit down together.
I just want to add that there is a common factor running through these three events – and that is the generosity in time and gifts of a number of local businesses and individuals. They added something special – which is the reminder that there is still a warm neighbourly feeling in our area.
Sorry that we also have to say that Peggy Dessert has moved into care. Peggy aged 88 was born in 58 Quilter Street, and her mother before her, so this is the first time ever the house isn’t occupied by the Dessert family. Peggy was my next door neighbour and when I nervously introduced myself, Peggy looked me up and down said in her blunt way: “Where have you come from then??”
I feared she resented me for moving into the house which used to be occupied by her lifelong friends Edie and Lilie , so I was embarrassed to say that I wasn’t a Londoner, but came from Suffolk. “Well I know Suffolk” said Peggy, and it turned out that she was evacuated to a tiny village, Kersey, just 3 miles from where I lived before moving to Quilter Street. So we became good friends and Peggy taught me so much about the area, the old days, the tough times and the way people looked out for each other. I realised there must be a lot more people like Peggy , not always visible, but still the genuine locals who have seen such huge changes in their neighbourhood and hold on to the history in their heads. I am so grateful to Peggy for whetting my appetite to know more – and that really was the beginning of the Freedom Passers.
(I’m glad to add that I am in touch with Peggy, she is being well looked after and, if anyone wants to send a message or a card, please contact me at 60 Quilter Street and I will deliver.)