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Phyllis Harper: Butcher and 'Queen of Highgate' proud of pink plaque honour

PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 June 2019

Phyllis Harper is awarded a Highgate Heritage plaque. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Phyllis Harper is awarded a Highgate Heritage plaque. Picture: Siorna Ashby

@siornaphotography

"I hope they'll paint it blue when I die!"

Phyllis Harper is awarded a Highgate Heritage plaque from Highgate Festival organisers Catharine Wells, Alicia Pivaro and Maria Kramer. Picture: Siorna AshbyPhyllis Harper is awarded a Highgate Heritage plaque from Highgate Festival organisers Catharine Wells, Alicia Pivaro and Maria Kramer. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Local butcher and "Highgate institution" Phyllis Harper has been honoured with a pink plaque marking inspirational local women.

A string of plaques have been erected as part of Highgate Festival, but in company including Florence Nightingale, Dido Belle, and Christina Rossetti, Phyllis is one of only a couple of living women to see their contribution to local life marked.

She told the Ham&High: "It's such an honour. It's really made my 44th year here.

"I thought it was a bit of a wind-up! It's nice to have all of the hard work I've done recognised, and my children are very proud of me."
Phyllis, 71, has been a regular in the pages of the Ham&High in the decades she's been running the Highgate Butcher's - she's been a vocal campaigner when it's come to parking changes, and she's well regarded, as her plaque explains, as a source of "village gossip and banter",

Phyllis Harper celebrates with champagne and her family, Lee and Paula Harper. Picture: Siorna AshbyPhyllis Harper celebrates with champagne and her family, Lee and Paula Harper. Picture: Siorna Ashby

She continued: "When my husband died it left me six months pregnant with my daughter, with my son aged four and the shop to run - I just had to get on with it. I had to carry on my business and look after my children."

Phyllis' dedication to her work, and her famous sausages continues though, she said she'd barely had the time to enjoy Highgate Festival, or investigate other women honoured by the plaques.

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She said: "I've not really been able to get out, no. I'm here nine until six and after that I'm just dead tired.

"It's nice to know about though."

She's not going to put away the butcher's knife just yet, either, she said. "No, no, still not thinking of retiring.

"This is a lovely thing to have had happen to me, I'm still celebrating. I had a glass or two of champagne, or three.

"The thing that I keep laughing about though it there almost all dead."

The pink plaque scheme sees 23 women from Highgate's past and present honoured with pink versions of the blue English Heritage plaques which mark notable individuals and where they lived.

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