Friday 17 February 2006 9.25am
I was very sad to hear yesterday that Millie Chandler died last week.
Millie, who was well into her eighties, was Chair of the China Walk Estate for many years. The legend is that China Walk was used to film Passport to Pimlico. If true, Millie could have had a staring role.
I first met her back in 2000 when I realised that if ordinary people did not fight we were in danger of losing some or all of Archbishops Park. The local Councillor suggested I get in touch with Millie. Good advice. Along with very practical support, like use of the lovely tenants hall she spent years campaigning for, I had access to real wisdom and some great stories of community campaigns stretching back over the years.
The area is changing. Slowly people like Millie, who cared and who acted, are passing away or like the equally legendary and supportive Dave Phillips, moving out of London. I am not sure what happens now. Will more people step forward who will speak for their estate, their school, their library or their park. Or, like voter numbers, is community involvement in terminal decline.
I feel priviledged to have known Millie, and to have been mentored by her. I am trying to remember some of her anecdotes, including the one which involved her borrowing a neighbour's children to sit in the middle of a major road in order to campaign for a safe crossing point. I think it involved getting the police who had been sent along to remove her, ending up on her side.
I hope someone else has a better memory than me. The contribution made by Millie and local residents of her generation should be remembered.