Alice’s fond farewell to her Hampstead life

A LARGER-than-life character has bowed out after 27 years service at a Hampstead charity for the elderly. .

Haroon Siddique

A LARGER-than-life character has bowed out after 27 years service at a Hampstead charity for the elderly.

Alice Rowan, 60, returned to Ireland on Monday after retiring from her job at the Age Concern Camden Henderson Court Resource Centre.

She said: "I have always enjoyed working. There have been some lovely characters. I've done 27 years with Age Concern Camden and 26 of those were good years - everyone has a bad day.

"I'm going to Kildare to live the life of a lady. I am a wee bit apprehensive as I have lived over here for 40 years. But where I am going it is quiet, I want a quiet life."

Ms Rowan first moved to Mansfield Road in Gospel Oak in 1971. She said: "I was told to go to the Coffee Cup because it does the best coffee in Hampstead and it does, I've drunk coffee there for 36 years. I moved to Southgate in 1986 but I've read the Ham&High for 36 years, I even managed to get it in Southgate."

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Ms Rowan first worked at the Lawn Road hospital and then the New End hospital before they were brought together and became the Royal Free.

In 1979 she joined Age Concern Camden at Henderson Court and worked there on and off for the next 27 years.

She said: "I encouraged people to go to exhibitions and theatre, we had an art club. I freaked a lot of them out when I took them to the Yoko Ono exhibition in London. They had a video of naked bottoms there. They thought it was very interesting and thanked me for taking them."

Ms Rowan has seen significant changes in old people's care over the years.

She said: "They didn't used to have a choice. They were encouraged to go into residential homes as soon as they were a certain age. But the care of elderly is going down, because of privatisation. The old days were better, everything now is figures and pieces of paper."

Dozens of people turned up for Ms Rowan's leaving do where she was given a Waterford Crystal lamp, a vase, and several bottles of her favourite tipple, Bell's Scotch Whisky. She also had a huge cake from another Hampstead institution Louis Patisserie, on Heath Street.

She said: "I'll miss Hampstead more than anything, coming to work in the morning I would know all the shopkeepers. But a lot of the old shops have gone, they've all been turned into boutiques and places to eat. They used to have the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker."