Sally Fiber

Phil­an­thropic doyenne of Fitzrovia and the West End

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

FROM HER ear­li­est days Sally Fiber, who has died aged 81, be­came in­volved in the char­ity work of the leg­endary Fitzroy Tav­ern in Lon­don’s Char­lotte Street, once the hub of Lon­don’s bo­hemian so­ci­ety, where she was born and where she lived for the first 17 years of her life. She was the only daugh­ter of Annie and Char­lie Allchild, who took over the pub from Annie’s fa­ther Ju­dah ‘Pop’ Kle­in­feld, its very first li­censee.

The Fitzroy had a very il­lus­tri­ous clien­tele. It was fa­mous from the 1920s to the mid 1950s as a meet­ing place for Lon­don’s artists, in­tel­lec­tu­als and bo­hemi­ans such as Dy­lan Thomas, Ge­orge Or­well, Jacob Ep­stein, Nina Ham­nett, Au­gus­tus John, Betty May, Lawrence Dur­rell and Tommy Cooper. It was also the haunt of de­tec­tives Bob Fabian and Jack Cap­stick, pub­lic ex­e­cu­tioner Al­bert Pier­re­point and oc­cultist Aleis­ter Crow­ley. The Fitzroy Tav­ern was ren­o­vated last year to bring the tav­ern back to its golden era of the 30s. Au­gus­tus John said of it 1927: “If you haven’t vis­ited the Fitzroy you haven’t vis­ited Lon­don.”

In 1923, hav­ing seen the loser of a darts match in the pub­lic bar throw a dart into the ceil­ing in ex­as­per­a­tion, Sally’s grand­fa­ther Ju­dah Kle­in­feld hit upon the idea of pro­vid­ing darts to the pub­lic with small pa­per bags at­tached, which they would fill with small change and then throw into the ceil­ing for an aptly named char­ity – Pen­nies From Heaven.

When the money was col­lected, it was used to take thou­sands of un­der­priv­i­leged lo­cal chil­dren on day-trips to the coun­try­side and later to put on par­ties at The Scala Theatre. It col­lected the equiv­a­lent of over half a mil­lion pounds in its time and pro­vided hun­dreds of chil­dren with the ex­tra sup­port they needed. The char­ity had a spe­cial nos­tal­gia for the fam­ily be­cause when Ju­dah first came to the UK in 1886, he brought with him only four pen­nies (later placed in his grave with him). Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War the Fitzroy be­came hugely pop­u­lar with ser­vice­men and women on leave and Char­lie Allchild adorned the bar with para­pher­na­lia in­clud­ing badges and cap tal­lies from around the world. The pub even sur­vived in­tact when a bomb ex­ploded, de­stroy­ing the next door prop­erty. The pho­to­graphs through­out the pub chart the his­tory of Sally’s fam­ily since Ju­dah first opened the pub doors.

Sally was the au­thor of The Fitzroy: An Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of a Lon­don Tav­ern, and gave all of its prof­its to The Fitzro­vian Pen­nies Char­ity which she helped set up and of which she was a pa­tron, and whose aims re­flected her grand­fa­ther’s — to give Lon­don chil­dren a party or out­ing each year. Sally re­tained a deep in­volve­ment in the Jewish com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly the Jewish West End. She cu­rated the Jewish West End project with the Lon­don Mu­seum of Jewish Life, and formed the North­wood group of the League of Jewish Women in 1960. She was made an Hon­orary Life mem­ber of the League’s Coun­cil in 1983. “Sally en­cour­aged vol­un­tary work, in­creased mem­ber­ship and so­cial is­sues ac­tion at the time”, writes Sheila Kemp­ner Glas­man, LJW past pres­i­dent. “De­spite her own ill health, she let noth­ing stand in her way to bring the name of the League into the fore­ground.

“She de­voted much of her time talk­ing to vol­un­tary groups on the story of the Pen­nies From Heaven Char­ity, high­lighted with mu­sic and sto­ries of the fa­mous Fitzro­vians who sup­ported the char­ity.”

Sally suf­fered her first ma­jor ill­ness, ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis, while liv­ing at the Tav­ern and coped with the long-term con­se­quences of mul­ti­ple sclero­sis, then can­cer, Parkin­son’s and delir­ium in her later years. Her hus­band Arthur cared for her with the sup­port of fam­ily and friends. Sally had an in­domitable spirit and a great zest for life. She is sur­vived by her chil­dren Jon Fiber and Miriam Kons, her six grand­chil­dren and ex­tended fam­ily. Arthur pre­de­ceased her in 2009.

OLIVIA JA­COBS

Sally Fiber: born May 5,1936.

Died Au­gust 14, 2017

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