June Kight lived on the same estate as us in East London for more than thirty years. I knew June via my wife, Jan, who organised and ran the Tenants Association called PASTA – the Parkhill and Sunrise Tenants Association. June was long-standing tenant, who thought her home and its environment was worth standing up for.
Fast forward to 1990, I retired from the Havering Council and Jan went on. We’re both Labour members who felt the Conservatives were dreadful. With the changes in our positions, I took up the mantle of running the Tenants Association whilst Jan became a well-respected member of the Labour administration on the council.
Over the next decade and more, Jan and I worked hard to make changes, where we thought possible, and fight injustices where feasible. It was about that time that I thought the estate where we lived wasn’t being maintained as well as it should be. The fact that the tenants were paying for maintenance, which wasn’t being done, rubbed salt into the wound. The two council caretakers seemed loathed to avoid dealing with problems involving graffiti, car dumping, drug abuse and litter which was rampant.
In 2000, Jan and I decided, we could and should exercise our legal rights to manage the estate ourselves. Although at that time June was not a founder member of our T.M.O. (Tenant Management Organisation) she was a staunch supporter who attended all our early meetings, and contributed her quiet, but dignified views on matters pertinent to the estate betterment.
As always seems to be the case, over a few years, key player came and went, either through moving off the estate, or death and so, soon after we took on the estate management, June became our second Treasurer. I suspect, out of sheer necessity, June had developed a keen instinct into holding back proportions of her housekeeping money for hard times from her aggressive husband. He had a goodly liking for beer and was aggressive when refused the price of a pint from June. Therefore, as our council allowance came in every three months, June was both pragmatic and innovative. She allocated funding for the ambitious schemes the committee brought forward.
Yes, I was the lead player, in taking the organisation forward, but June was the steadying influence that kept an ever watchful and diligent eye on the finance. Since we were set up under Government rules, we had to jump through any number of rules that made us accountable. Among the many provisions, there were very specific requirements for our finances to be independently audited every year. These then had to be forwarded onto the council.
Over the years, we managed to accrue a hefty surplus in our accounts. This amounted to nearly a quarter of a million pounds by 2014. But, as the years ticked by the council became more and more envious of our efficiency. We were more efficient at monitoring our contractors as well as more competent in applying our fiduciary responsibilities.
Sadly June’s health deteriorated, in 2016 and she had to be admitted into hospital several times. Clearly, she felt she needed to retire a our Treasurer, and I also came to the conclusion that I was ready to stand down, after thirteen years of leading the TMO.
Early in March 2018 June’s stepson told us that the Doctor had made him aware that June was not expected to survive much longer. She died peacefully and without pain, her funeral was in mid-March.
I will miss June as both my friend and stalwart associate who always did her best without causing any upset to anyone. So I said goodbye to a dear old friend.