In Remembrance

PENELOPE WALKER

Penny sadly passed away on Friday 21 May 2021 at the age of 70 years after having been diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

Since moving to Leicester in 2011 she has been a guiding light behind South Highfields Neighbours, helping to organise many different community activities and arranging the publication of three books about our area.

Penny was also involved in Leicester CND and was well known for other peace campaigning activities, which often upset the police!

One of her last wishes was that after her death her friends and neighbours would meet in Onslow Park for a picnic to celebrate her life.

R. I. P.

++++++

BRUCE ARTHUR WOOD

Woody (Bruce Arthur Wood) died at home in Biddulph Street on Monday 15th June 2020 after a short illness. His daughter Hertha was with him.

Woody has been a huge influence on our area for many years. He became involved with South Highfields Neighbours in 1992 – then called HART (Highfields Association of Residents and Tenants) and worked tirelessly in the community until very recently, always positive, always looking to involve more people. He was part of the People’s Centre on Evington Road, the help desk at Sparkenhoe School and Stoneygate Youth Club. He arranged lots of trips and touched so many hearts. He was much loved and will be sorely missed.

23 thoughts on “In Remembrance

  1. Penny was my friend. No strings.
    She was a bright and sunny light who saw past bureaucracy to the nitty gritty of what was right. She was an inspiration and will be greatly missed by us all.

  2. I first met Penny when I attended a Family and Local History event at Leicester Racecourse. She was promoting a book that her and a few other contributors had written about ” How Saxby Street Got it’s Name”. Penny was part of the South Highfields Neighbours group and there and then, I decided to join the group.

    Penny was passionate about the community she lived in. She valued people and actively promoted social justice through CND and other associations. I remember seeing a headline in Leicester Mercury when she faced a criminal charge for her activism! It didn’t stop her pursuit for what was ethically right!

    Penny adopted Highfields as her home. She was actively litter picking in Onslow Park until her health took hold of her. She organised events for children and families and has a legacy of the most amazing mural artwork in the park.

    Penny invited about ten ladies around to her small first floor flat on International Womens Day where we shared each others company, talked about our lives as women and spoke of inspiration ladies. Penny will be on my list of inspirational ladies. A lady that was a force of positivity, community and fairness.

    Rest in Peace, my friend. xxx

  3. Alan Fox
    May 23, 2021 at 20:27

    We moved to South Highfields about ten years ago, about the same time as Penny. We quickly got to know her. She was always at the heart of the community. Many of the projects she initiated – the books, the mural – live on. She made South Highfields a better place. But she was far more than an activist. She was a warm and unassuming friend. She would have found it odd that we are going on about her greatness, I feel privileged to have known her.

  4. Kate Sullivan
    May 23, 2021 at 13:21
    Penny was a remarkable person, a ‘force of nature’ as someone described her. As I told her recently, I had never met anyone like her before, and don’t suppose I ever will again. She had huge energy and commitment for any project – local and global – aimed at making this a better world. Penny seemed always to be fizzing with ideas, most of which would involve the tedious putting up and taking down of gazebos.

    But she didn’t just have a commitment to projects. Penny fundamentally cared about people. She had a generous spirit, and I will never forget her kindness to us during the darkest time of our lives. I loved and admired her, and feel lucky to have called her a friend.

    When it’s time for the celebration of Penny’s life, we will share our stories and memories of her. We will share food and drink a toast. It’s quite possible that alcohol may be involved (Fair Trade, of course), which would please her no end. As Penny herself was prone to saying: ‘Yippee!’

  5. Neil Evans
    May 23, 2021 at 01:59

    Such sad news to hear about Penny. She had a warm and generous soul and wasn’t afraid to share it, especially when it came to encouraging peace, firing up community spirit, campaigning for a better environment and helping people from any background or age group.
    I only met Penny three years ago and I’ll admit that I, along with many others no doubt, feel slightly cheated of the chance to get to know her better. Having heard a few stories from her packed life, however, I realise I could have known her for 20 years and only scratched the surface! I’m grateful for the time I did know her and loved Penny’s friendship and company.
    Although she was serious about her campaign work, Penny had a great sense of humour too. She also really loved her family, friends and neighbours.
    Penny used to encourage me to write poems from time to time. My efforts were never very good but I enjoyed trying. On this occasion, I’m going to steal the opening lines from an anonymous poem to send to Penny with a huge hug xx

    A life well lived is a precious gift
    Of hope and strength and grace,
    From someone who has made our world
    A brighter, better place.

  6. Penny, the shining light of South Highfields and so many community projects in Leicester, her adopted city. Gentle, caring, kind and spirited, Penny wanted to include everyone in painting, parties, reading together, and looking out for each other. Penny succeeded in helping to consolidate the community, her community, because she had such special gifts, heaps of ideas and energy beyond limits. Such a special woman, our gift was that Penny came to live here, and her spark helped light up everyone in South Highfields. Penny’s strength and gentleness will be greatly missed but never forgotten . Your friend, Lucy.

  7. After some years being an electrical engineer in the Army during the ‘cold war’, Woody became dissatisfied. When he left military service, he explored various organisations and movements looking for a ‘home’ for his thinking and values. He found what he was searching for in the radical co-operative movement. He moved from London to a housing and workers co-operative in Burnley. After serving his ‘apprenticeship’ there he came to Leicester, to Highfields, determined to create something similar here. The outcome was two workers co-operatives, a housing co-operative, an income sharing group, a vehicle sharing group, a capital sharing group, and an agency that nurtures co-operatives and social enterprises in Leicester and Leicestershire. All were created and sustained through Woody’s ability to nurture friendship. Some are still thriving, some have not been sustained. In a society that promotes competition, greed and division, Woody has shown us that a different, more human way is possible.

  8. There are so many good tnigs in Leicester that would never have happened without Woody. He really cared about the community and acted on his beliefs. Thanks Woody.

  9. DILIP’S SPEECH AT WOODY’S FUNERAL ON 25 JUNE 2020
    Greetings all.
    Woody, what a special person, loved by all in our community.
    He was passionate and active in our community. He set up projects that made a difference in our community. He was not just a member of the community, he was a leader. When he could see that something was wrong and something that needed to be done, he got it done. Through friendship, he would encourage people to work with him and so make things happen.
    He sought to help everyone. He was colour blind [approach not eyesight]. He would pump up the tyres on children’s bikes and their footballs. He would lend tools to other trades people. He and his ladders would be used when someone had locked themselves out and he could get in through a bedroom window.
    Many people when they learnt that Woody had died, including members of South Highfields neighbours, Stoneygate councillors, and Lucy, asked me to pass on their condolences to his family, which i do now.
    Woody will forever be missed by us all, yet he will never be far from us because he will be forever in our hearts and thoughts.
    An incredible soul, Woody Wood.

  10. My favourite memory of Woody is his annual Christmas card, with ‘Christmas’ crossed out and replaced with ‘Solstice’. Instead of the usual seasonal greetings, he always wrote ‘Respect for your energies’. Woody had another endearing habit, which was to deliver a red rose to some of us in South Highfields on International Women’s Day. The last time I saw Woody looking well was at the Chinese New Year/Burns night do on February 29th. He had typically gone to the trouble of making [and transporting] a jelly which hadn’t set very well. It required a polite rather than enthusiastic response!
    Well done, Woody. We will always remember you.
    Kate

  11. I’ve known Woody ever since I moved to South Highfields in 2011. His energy was enormous. His enthusiasm was boundless. His instinct was always to do his utmost for the whole community. I will always remember him in his blue overalls, toolbox in hand, working to make South Highfields an even better place.

    Alan Fox

  12. Message from Lucy Chaplin and Cllr Ross Willmott:
    Woody was fiercely proud of Highfields and cared about his local community.
    Ross knew Woody for many years through the council.
    I got to know Woody through my work as your local councillor; and because Woody cared, others cared, and people came together to stand up for Highfields. He helped us all to remember that everyone is equal, and just because we speak out, we are not trouble-makers. He inspired me on many occasions to stand up and speak out for Highfields. I was honoured to do so. Woody once told me I was doing ok as a councillor. When Woody was very ill, I wrote to him to tell him that he had done ok too as a campaigner, but now he needed to put his own needs first. Woody, rest easy, you did your bit, and can be pleased with your legacy in the community. We shall all come together in the future to celebrate Woody’s life. Ross and I will be there.

  13. Woody was one of the first residents I met when I became the warden for stoneygate 9 years ago he was very supportive and his love for the ward made my job become less of a job and more of a joy.his constant support at ward meeting with other residents only made me want to make more of a difference in the ward he was so supportive when he saw me in the streets patrolling stopping to have a chat.he will be sorely missed and made a massive difference in the area.

  14. I got to know Woody when I first started working in Highfields in 2006 where my first encounter was at the joint Stoneygate and Spinney Hills meetings – I remember him giving the Councillors a run for their money particularly around parking in Highfields! Woody was passionate about making the area a better place. Woody has engaged with us at St Peter’s in many ways including attending the Lunch Club and doing handyman work as well as through H.A.R.T and S.H.N. He was always kind and considerate and fought passionately for the things he believed in. He was a voice for many and will be sorely missed by all the community. R.I.P Woody

  15. I got to know Woody through what was then Rusty (now Leicester Car Sharing Club), the car sharing group founded within Corani housing cooperative. He was so committed to ensuring that we considered the needs of the local community whenever possible and certainly put himself as a driver at the disposal of many. I think that’s why he wanted us to hold on to an old Omega estate, as it could carry large items easily. We teased him about his love of the old banger but admired his dedicating to serving the community. He was also passionate about getting a car based down in St Matthews, where he knew many people did not have access to a car of their own, and continued to push us to look into getting an electric vehicle. Sadly neither of those two things happened in his lifetime but he has left us a mandate, particularly around engaging as much as possible with climate action networks. It was a joy and inspiration to know him in these last few years when he still continued to give so much.

  16. Woody was a lovely lovely man. My first contact with him was when I went on one of his summer trips to the seaside . Woody has always been a community man who would do anything for anyone. He always had a positive outlook on life and was always telling jokes. May you RIEP peace Woody. You will never be forgotten xxx

  17. I lived in Highfields, mainly in Bartholomew Street, for 25 years and was Woody’s partner for about 16 of those. I remember him best for his positive energy, enthusiasm and his wild ideas – he could be controversial at times! He loved his Highfields home and his many friends there. My best memory of the residents association was of the summer day trips to Skegness, especially the one where the coach broke down before we got out of Leicester! We got there in the end! I’ve lived in Spain for 14 years now but stayed in touch with Woody and, whenever I was in the area, we’d meet up. It’s been tough recently, knowing he wasn’t well, but not being able to get over and help in any way (I know many people are having similar evperiences, due to Covid-19), so I want to say “thank you” to all the people who were there for him. I will miss him very much.

  18. Woody loved the Anglo-Saxon period and was a member of a national organisation called the English Companions which is a group of enthusiasts for the period who as a local group met monthly in Leicester quite close to Highfields to give talks and also had 2 feasts a year where we would bring food to share which could only come from the period. Some of us have known him for decades. Woody would often come along after a HART meeting and we knew he was very involved with all kinds of other local and regional groups and causes. As people have said he was passionate and enthusiastic in his beliefs and good at inspiring action. He was a one off and we will miss him very much.

  19. As a young Australian environmentalist I ended up WWOOFing at Braziers Park, near Wallingford. Woody was a regular visitor and event organiser there. Woody had an infectious enthusiasm, gently yet relentlessly propagating ideas and ways of being to support life-affirming social and ecological connections. Thank you for all you did for people and our planet Woody.

  20. Woody was a key part of HART and SHN for many years, someone who challenged complacency and who was passionate about improving life for local people. His enthusiasm and vision helped to keep HART going when membership was at a low ebb. He was a kind and inspiring person, loved and appreciated by many. I am grateful to have known him and he will be very much missed.

  21. Woody was one of the very few people I knew when I moved to Leicester in 2011 as I had been living in a housing co-op in Coventry and we were both part of the Radical Routes network – Corani and Coventry Peace House. He soon had me in immersed in local community activity about which he was passionate. He was a kind and thoughtful man, always looking for ways to involve our diverse communities. I learned a lot from him. Thank you Woody. Your influence on South Highfields has been huge and will live on.
    Penny

  22. Woody was always so positive and enthusiastic. He would join in with any activities going on. He had problems with his legs but that didn’t stop him from helping out at Street parties and events in the park.

    He was so imaginative and had big ideas. He even wanted South Highfields Neighbours to put on a pantomime one Christmas with about 2 weeks notice. – Thank goodness, we couldn’t get it together!

    Woody had great ethical values. He cared about people and the planet . I learnt a lot from Woody through his work and his character and he will be a legend in Highfields, talked about for many years to come. RIP friend. ❤️

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