Obituary: Newham community leader Irene Poole dies aged 94

PUBLISHED: 13:19 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:28 07 November 2017

Irene 'Rene' Poole at the 2017 NMA social. Picture: Stephanie Nunn

Irene 'Rene' Poole at the 2017 NMA social. Picture: Stephanie Nunn

Stephanie Nunn

A “special” charity volunteer who helped children to develop their confidence at events and activity camps has died aged 94.

Irene Poole, known as “Rene” to many, passed away at Newham University Hospital on Saturday following a short illness.

Born in 1922, Rene helped to run a Newham branch of charity Woodcraft Folk after her dad set it up and helped to organise many events and camps at Debden House, Essex.

She became an integral member of the catering committee for a 1951 international camp attended by 2000 children from all over Europe.

Colin Grainger, former Newham Recorder editor, said: “Rene had very many stories to tell and an incisive wit, and was adored by generations of Woodcrafters.

“She was also a prolific letter writer and contributed many times to the Memory Lane column I ran as editor.

“I still have a beautiful letter from her when my time at the Recorder ended.”

A loving wife and mother of two children, Rene always made time for charitable and community organisations.

She was vice president of Newham History Society and the secretary of the Newham Mayors Association (NMA), a social group made up of ex mayors, deputies and other key members of the borough.

NMA member Stephanie Nunn said: “Rene Poole was an inspiring woman with a loving family. She lived life to the full and always attended NMA events where she always played an active role in whatever was going on.”

Stephanie, an ex Newham mayoress herself, said Rene had revealed at the July NMA meeting that she once won a scholarship to a grammar school.

The youngster then took the civil service entrance exam and worked for the Registrar General’s office in 1939, Stephanie said.

In her later years, Rene’s good work continued and she was given the Honorary Freedom of the Borough in 2004.

NMA secretary Sheila Oliver said: “I know that Rene had a wide range of interests and was a great example of age being no barrier to enjoying life to the fullest. She was a lovely lady and we’ll all miss her.”

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, added: “This is a sad day for the people of Newham and the communities that Irene supported over the years. Her work with Woodcraft was inspiring, and her legacy lives on in them.

“She did tremendous work in the community and will be sorely missed. My thoughts go out to her family.”

Irene is survived by two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Her funeral will be held at 2pm on Tuesday, November 21 at the City of London Cemetery’s Burial Church, Aldersbrook Road, Manor Park, E12 5DQ.

All are welcome. Flowers are optional or a donation can be made to either the Newham District Woodcraft Folk or the Newham Voluntary Association for the Blind.

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