Clare Whittelsea

Clare stroking a guinea pig at Surrey Quays Clare presented with Freeman of the Borough

Clare was a much valued member of our Community Association serving for 15 years as its Treasurer. But she was much more than that. She was one of those people who worked freely and hard for the public good and for the benefit of others. The sadness felt on this estate when news of her death came spread far and local people expressed not only their sorrow but also their great respect for her.  That same respect was shown in May this year when Clare was  presented with Freeman of the Borough of Southwark at Southwark Cathedral.

She gave vast amounts of time and care for Nelson Square and its community. Nelson Square is much improved today partly because of her effort and her meticulous and forensic  eye for detail.  She cared about people and getting things done properly – but always did that with the paperwork neatly filed, the receipts in order and a quiet determination which was unbeatable.

That forensic eye was also evident when power needed to be held to account. Many Council and other officials have been taken aback during meetings when Clare produced her notes from previous meetings and charmingly reminded them of their promises.

If you walk around the Square today you will see many things that are testaments to her hard work. One striking example was when a massive 27 storey development was proposed just behind the Square. It was Clare who went through their plans and discovered that they were planning to steal one of the gardens that the Community Association had raised funds for and built. This pubic relations disaster led to demonstrations and protests and today that block is – as a direct result of her diligence  – only 10 storeys high.

Another came during major works on the estate when Clare gave endless hours of advice and held the builders to account. She was personally responsible for saving leaseholders many thousands of pounds and also for helping to ensure that the works were finished to a reasonable standard.

Above all she loved to Garden and several of the gardens in the Square benefited from her work. She  was never happier than pulling on her khakis, on her hands and knees and digging out weeds and moss in the cracks of the paving stones in the Square. She loved planting and weeding and it is fair to say her soul is firmly embedded in Nelson Square, she is everywhere