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Obituary: Dr Joan Martin (102) who saved many lives at the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

Born in November 1915 Joan trained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital. In 1943 she found herself the only Casualty Doctor (a junior doctor at that) on duty at the Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital on the night of the fateful Bethnal Green Tube Disaster. This was the UK’s largest single loss of civilian life during World War II where more than 170 people were crushed to death. Joan led the team treating the casualties at the hospital and saved many lives. She was advised by the Government never to mention what happened that night. It was only in her 80s that she started to speak of it. She suffered regular nightmares as a result of that night.In the early 1960s she set up the ‘Swimming for Disabled People’ club based at Walmer Road, Kensington where, together with John Scott & other volunteers, she provided this service for over fifty years (she gave up at 96!) Joan was awarded an MBE for 1985 and aged 88 she dived in the Agean Sea to save the then Bishop of Kensington from drowning. Local resident, Joy Puritz, wrote Joan’s autobiography in 2011 ‘
‘Passing the Flame: The Life and Work of Dr Joan Martin’ detailing Joan’s extraordinary life, including her work, not just as a medic and doctor, but also as Girl Gider, Pilgrim,Volunteer and devout Christian. In May 2012, at the recommendation of Lucy Elliott, Joan was awarded as Runner-up in the The Times/Sternberg Active Life Award 2012
resulting in a trip to No. 10 Downing St. In 2014 a group of friends arranged a surprise party. Joan was sadly ill, but it turned out we were a year early (!) and in 2015 to great fanfare Joan was given a huge party, with many friends coming long distances to share her celebration. Last December, a monument was finally unveiled to recognise those who had died in the 1943 Disaster. Joan was well enough to attend this event and to the end, she had full clarity. She died amongst friends, at home on January 15, 2018. A life (very) well lived.
A memorial service for Joan will be held at St Mary Abbots on 15 February at 11.00 am.

Draycott Nursing & Care Annual Christmas Carol Service for Canine Partners

In December friends and colleagues attended the Annual Christmas Carol Service with a difference – watching 12 fully trained canine partners demonstrate their talents in helping disabled people lead full lives. The service was attended by some 450 guests, and readers included the singer Pati Boulay, David Robb (Downton Abbey), Michael Paluso, Rula Lenska and James Dreyfus. The event raised over £40,000 resulting in enough funding for the training of two dogs – an Amazing Result

The Mayor and Mayoress of RBKC lead the Remembrance Service in Kensington

Many of us feared the worst when torrential rains hit Kensington on the Friday and Saturday prior to the Remembrance Service. However on the Sunday, the weather turned out to be quite beautiful and nothing remotely similar to the experience those we had come to salute, had had in the trenches. The Mayor and Mayoress were joined by a full complement of Councillors together with Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP for the Borough. Local members of the Armed Services of all ages gathered in regiments in front of the Town Hall, and then proceeded to the Memorial. The crowd was much larger than usual and credit must be given to those who planned this event. For what seemed like the first time vehicles were temporarily stopped for the Two Minute Silence and the sounding of the Last Post. Rather movingly a single leaf floated down from the overhanging tree during the Last Post. Children stood alongside adults, very solomnly reciting the Lord’s Prayer but more obvious  gusto when it came to singing the National Anthem. Amongst those who presented at the Memorial, was a little girl, carefully placing her red balloon alongside the wreaths, quietly once all the crowds had gone.

Images and copyright:  Lucy Elliott / Lucy Elliott Photography.com

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Remembrance in Kensington

Sunday 14th November was a time for families and friends to remember those who died for us. A larger service for Kensington & Chelsea was held at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, with smaller ones in other parts of the borough. Here we have some images from the Memorial outside St Mary Abbots Church where the Deputy Mayor Councillor Maighread Condon-Simmonds presided. In attendance were the Clergy (Rev’d Rob Marshall and Rev’d Gareth Wardell), Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the Choir. It was lovely to see small children in the audience, although such a shame the the traffic didn’t stop for the two minute silence. It’s not much to ask and judging by the numbers of busses sporting a red poppy, they would probably be only too happy to stop. Let’s hope next year the Council might see to this. It would make a huge difference since the junction of Kensington High St and Kensington Church St are extremely busy.