Friday, April 12, 2024

Thurrock community mourns death of "magical" Lesley

Tribute piece from Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions

IT was with enormous shock and sadness that we heard of the sudden death of our dearest Director Lesley on the 14th July 2016. She was a mere 65 years old.

The following week the Directors all met up as usual and spent some time writing down all the things we remembered and liked about her – here is a selection:-

She was an unbelievable lady who did so much to volunteer for the community of Thurrock. Transvol, Thurrock Diversity Network, Thurrock Centre for Independent Living, Thurrock Coalition, Thurrock Unsighted Peoples Society and Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions were all groups she worked on.

Lesley had an uncanny ability to know whether people were really genuine or not. She seemed to have the knack of seeing peoples’ real personalities and would often make us laugh with her witty asides about them. She would occasionally get the giggles and completely set the Board of Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions off laughing until it hurt.

Lesley once got into trouble in B&Q as she demanded to buy a hammer action power drill and wanted to know if they did a pink one. Her fierce independence meant she was more than capable of using one. We remembered the laugh she’d had when a kind stranger once tried to do her coat up for her – “I haven’t been treated like this since I was 3”.

Lesley always gave great advice to others and fought tirelessly for the Charities she believed in. She was there in the Council chamber when they took the funding away from Transvol. What people didn’t know was that she had turned up with a pair of pink fluffy handcuffs and was going to attach herself to the Mayor! Her other great idea was that Transvol should drop off all the people at the Council offices and then leave them there; “as the funding’s been cut, you can get us home”.

Lesleys’ spirit is still within the company; it was her insistence that the word ‘aspiration’ be in our vision. Everyone feels that they are a better person for having known her and it feels unfair that she has gone before we have finished what we set out to do together. She was a huge advocate for social justice and felt that she had benefitted enormously from meeting people with learning disabilities.

Lesley loved hats and wore a number of different ones (both metaphorically and literally); the brighter the better. She had a unique way of explaining complicated things so that everyone understood them. The Directors felt she was always there for them.

For me personally, I will miss her supervision sessions with me. She gave me a really hard time and pushed TLS to the maximum. She wanted evidence of what difference we had made and wanted to see that our ‘Community Interest Company’ status truly meant something. Anne White is definitely carrying on with that mantle!

Finally – the one little secret that not many people knew about Lesley; she was an astonishingly talented painter. About a month ago she came to the office with a beautiful oil painting of our Liam. Amazing .. so how did she do that then? That was the magic of Lesley.


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