Thursday, November 1, 2007

A True Community Champion

I'm often asked to stand up and speak to groups of people. Yet today - although a very real honour - was the hardest yet.

A few weeks ago, Sherwood Estate lost one of its greatest assets. Val Joy, a resident for over thirty years, died following a spell in hospital. As the new TN2 Centre took shape, Val said she'd really like to see a water feature on the deck overlooking the lake. And so it was that today, local residents asked me to unveil the water feature Val had wanted to see, and to say a few words in her honour.

Val was one of our real characters - a true community champion, she was a Tenant Rep for Town and Country Housing, and a founder member of the TN2 Community Trust. She was given a civic award for her work in Sherwood, as well as a Kent Volunteering Award. She could sometimes be awkward - can't we all - but only because she wanted the best outcomes - for her friends and for her neighbourhood.

Val worked as a cleaner at Pembury Hospital, and when the management told her they were cutting her hours, she protested. Not for herself, but because the shorter hours would mean she was unable to lay up the lunch tables for the patients. Nonetheless, the hours were cut - and Val still laid up the lunch tables. But on her own time, and without pay.

On summer days, overlooking the lake out on the deck of the TN2 Centre, the gentle trickle and splash of water will give a rare moment of calm against the noise of the busy and successful new Community Centre. Val Joy would have been really pleased on both counts.

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