Flick Rea: Community celebrates 'Empress of West Hampstead'
- Credit: Herbie Russell
Flick Rea, the former Liberal Democrat councillor for Fortune Green, has been thanked for her 35-year commitment to the local community.
Friends, family and colleagues gathered on Wednesday night (October 13) at The Alliance in West Hampstead to pay tribute.
Flick, now in her 80s, became a Fortune Green councillor in 1986 and was re-elected eight times, including in 2014 when all other Lib Dems lost their Camden Council seats.
“The Empress of West Hampstead" went on to lead the Camden Liberal Democrats from 1986 to 2005 and 2010 to 2021, and was awarded an MBE in 2013 for her services to local government.
During that time, she led the campaigns to save and restore the Prince of Wales Baths, now the Kentish Town Sports centre.
Simon Inglis, speaking at the event, said: “They were mercilessly shutting down public baths around the country. Flick said: ‘not Kentish Town.'”
The Fortune Green stalwart also fought off multiple attempts to close down the West Hampstead Library, a building that serves the community to this day.
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In the 1970s, she set up West Hampstead Amenity and Transport and the West Hampstead Community Association, both of which she has chaired.
Flick arrived at the event in the same jacket she wore 35 years ago to her first council meeting, which was then dominated by men.
That day she vowed “not to let the buggers get me down”, so donned what she called her “shocking pink” jacket that, 30-years later, seemed just as bright.
On her commitment to local government, Flick said: “What’s on your doorstep is sometimes the most important thing.
“What ruins your day is stepping into a pothole full of water. If you can get that sorted, you’ve done something.”
The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-five was a spokesperson for local government on the arts, and trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Simon highlighted her gift for performance, saying: “She’s been a feisty local councillor, loving grandmother, Empress of West Hampstead and, sometimes, just a woman sitting with a fag.”
Cllr Nancy Jirira replaced Flick as Fortune Green’s third councillor following her by-election win in July.