The way she said hello in­forms this good­bye

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION - Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­ Bm@il

IOFTEN men­tion my Birm­ing­ham roots and I joked in a pre­vi­ous col­umn about my long­ing to have the free­dom of the city where I was born, brought up and ed­u­cated, as my friend is soon to be given the hon­our by the City of London.

But I have lived in the bor­ough of Hilling­don for more than 40 years and I hon­estly wouldn’t want to be any­where else. I came here as a young woman when I mar­ried my south­ern belle (Mr is F from Green­ford), and it is def­i­nitely home.

When we are out of the coun­try I re­ally look for­ward to getting back to our house, fam­ily, friends and neigh­bours – though ad­mit­tedly not the M25, Brexit, and deadlines.

As a re­porter for 20 years I made many val­ued con­tacts who do so much to keep our bor­ough go­ing, and this col­umn has pro­vided me with even more com­mu­nity links.

Many stop me in Uxbridge to tell me their own sto­ries, and some joke that they now feel part of my (and Mr F’s) life.

Best of all they say it cheers them up (mostly when I write about things that have gone wrong in my life I sus­pect!)

One of my con­tacts for many years was Gwen Pin­der – who reg­u­larly rang me at the Gazette when we had a Neigh­bour­hood News page, to ask me to pub­li­cise her out­ings, and meet­ings based at Harefield Com­muntity Cen­tre. Long be­fore we all be­came ‘ex­perts’ in mar­ket­ing and so­cial me­dia, she knew that pro­mot­ing her groups would reap re­sults in terms of their pop­u­lar­ity and sur­vival, and it did.

Only this year she booked me to speak at two of her groups – CAMEO and the Wine Club at Harefield Com­mu­nity Cen­tre – both mis­sions, I’m glad to say, I ac­com­plished be­fore she died this month (Oc­to­ber).

Ill health did not stop her plan­ning ahead for the groups she loved, but it did pre­vent her from getting to ei­ther of my talks. A mixed bless­ing maybe, I sug­gested when I spoke to her on the phone af­ter­wards.

I told her I missed her and hoped we would meet again soon. Sadly now we won’t.

Gwen was such a warm per­son that when she picked up the phone to an­swer with a ‘Hello dear,’ it was like be­ing wrapped in a blan­ket.

Bye Gwen. Thanks from Hilling­don – and Harefield in par­tic­u­lar.

And me.

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