Family joy at posthumous gong for South End Green stalwart

South End Green Festival 26.06.16. David Kitchen, chair of SEGA hands out programmes

South End Green Festival 26.06.16. David Kitchen, chair of SEGA hands out programmes - Credit: Archant

A much-loved Hampstead figure was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) posthumously in the New Year’s Honours list.

Sadly, even the most eagle-eyed Ham&High reader inspecting the honours lists will have missed David Kitchen’s name this New Year.

Unlike with OBEs, MBEs, CBEs and knighthoods, posthumous recipients of the BEM are not publicly announced.

David, who died in March at the age of 77, was given the gong for his half-century of service to the Hampstead Community, including of course his stint as chair of the South End Green Association (SEGA).

David’s daughter Madeleine said the honour had been a lovely tonic for the family after a difficult 2018.

“It’s been a really horrible year. We lost our brother in the summer, after dad.

“This was a lovely end to it. It’s just lovely recognition of all his community work and it’d have made him smile.”

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David was told he had been nominated by daughter Clare, Madeleine said her the family were overcome when they were notified of the award.

She said: “My sister opened the letter and just started crying.

“We are absolutely delighted that dad has been honoured in this way.

“We know that he was nominated by members of the community so when we got the news we were very emotional. “

David was chair of SEGA for half a century from its foundation in 1966, and instrumental in protecting the area over-development and celebrating its character.

He also helped restore the South End Green fountain, and was behind the plaque in honour of George Orwell.

As it is posthumous, there is no family invite to Buckinham Palace, but Madeleine doesn;’t think that’d have bothered her dad. She said: “I don’t think Dad would have gone.

“He was a bit of a rebel shall we say!”

Madeleine added that her dad had never loved the limelight, but had raised a smile when he was told he had been nominated.

She said: “He was very humble man. He’d have been really embarrassed by this.”