Farewell to this proud and tireless champion of the Heath
Bobby de Joia will be fondly remembered for her tireless community campaigning in Hampstead and her tenacious personality, writes Bridget Galton in this personal tribute BACK in 1999, I was the Ham&High reporter despatched to write about the setting up o
Bobby de Joia will be fondly remembered for her tireless community campaigning in Hampstead and her tenacious personality, writes Bridget Galton in this personal tribute
BACK in 1999, I was the Ham&High reporter despatched to write about the setting up of a community group for Hampstead Heath.
When I knocked on the door of Bobby de Joia's Heathside home in the Vale of Health, I couldn't believe so much energy could emanate from so small a frame.
As she talked about her love of the open space and desire to give something back, I could see she was the kind of dynamic, determined person to get things done. At 69, retirement clearly wasn't an option for a woman who saw community involvement and responsibility as the mainstay of her life.
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Over the following years Bobby campaigned tirelessly to establish her group of volunteers, who would turn out in all weathers to coppice and clear sections of the Heath.
She corralled the then Ham&High editor to produce a Heath Hands newsletter for free and would phone to chastise us if we failed to attend a photocall - or give sufficiently prominent coverage to the organisation's annual birthday party.
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She was, quite simply someone you didn't say "no" to.
In recent years she filed a
free monthly column for the Ham&High features section on the work of Heath Hands.
Her copy was flawless, and her commitment and pride in the volunteers' efforts shone through in every line.
She was part of what makes Hampstead a great place to live and work, and I find it hard to believe that I will no longer pick up the phone to hear those New York tones telling me the next column is on its way.
This space was due to feature Bobby's latest column. It seems appropriate to use it to pay tribute to the efforts of a Hampstead campaigner whom we will all miss at the Ham&High.