Colin Grainger

Farewell Kevin – the true great who enriched the lives of so many

If you are lucky in life you get to meet one truly great person. I met mine more than 40 years ago. It was Kevin Jenkins.

Kevin Jenkins was the most remarkable man I have ever met in my time on this planet. His death on Wednesday is a tragedy of immense proportions.

There is no doubt that he touched the lives, and has been a massive part of the existence of many thousands of people in the community in Newham and other parts of East London. Many hold him dear in their hearts for the good that he did…and with very good reason,

He changed the lives and made a real difference to the quality of life for so many underprivileged and disabled youngsters in more than 44 years of dedication to doing good.

His love and devotion to making a difference was always about giving people a chance to improve themselves and to make their own dreams come true.

A few years ago I took part in a feature in the Newham Recorder, the paper I edited for many years. One of the questions was to name a person I admired living or dead. It took me only a second to name Kevin.

Much is made of the term hero and too often today it is a label given to those who have not achieved true greatness.

* Kevin when he was made a Freeman of Newham


But Kevin was a hero to thousands and it was an honour for me to have been part of his life since the day we first met to discuss the chance of creating a toy appeal to bring joy into the existence of young people and their families who would otherwise have gone without. And he deserves that honour as well as he warranted the OBE bestowed on him.

When he came into the Newham Recorder’s East Ham office to talk about launching a Christmas Toy Appeal for underprivileged youngsters 44 years ago I was lucky enough to be chosen by my then Editor Tom Duncan to co-ordinate it. Little did I realise just how much that appeal would change the lives of so many generations of youngsters. It still does so today.


  • The love that was given…the toy warehouse at the last Christmas Toy Appeal


Kevin was also a friend and confidante to many. You could turn to him for advice and that advice and friendship often eased you through a crisis.

It was Kevin who educated and gave me the strength to change my life and try to do good things for people, making me realise life is more about giving to others.

He also had a great sense of humour and I will miss the banter and moments we shared discussing the issues of the day…and shared stories about his beloved Hammers and my love for Spurs.

I was honoured when he asked me to become one of the founding trustees of Ambition, Aspire, Achieve almost five years ago.

  • The cakes made for the opening of the Ambition, Aspire, Achieve Terence Brown Arc In The Park and the Glyn Hopkin Abbey Hub

He loved newspapers and the news and we had a joint passion for history. We started the Heritage Newham group four years ago and that has gone from strength to strength.

So many people have a better chance in life because of Kevin and his devoted partner Paula and their family – through the love and care they have given.

Through his work as co-founder with Community Links, his long service as a councillor in Newham, as founder for Ambition, Aspire, Achieve and the founder of Heritage Newham – People, Places, Progress, Kevin has been an inspiration for generations of people. A force for good and a mastermind of much that is good in Newham. He was awarded an OBE for his outstanding work.


  • Kevin – a family photo

Mention an idea In passing to him and it was actioned with an hour and put into practice not long after. He was an inspiration to so many and the world has lost a gentle man and a pillar of the community.

He inspired others to come on board and help.

  • Kevin and Paula at one of the benefit nights staged for AAA by Vincent Hayes and all those at Brick Lane Music Hall in Silvertown.

There was never any desire for any praise. The glow in his cheeks was due to witnessing a creation come to life, a youngster achieving a dream, an idea becoming a reality. He believed young people can achieve anything despite their background.

  • Words that meant so much to Kevin…helping young people achieve their dreams

There was still so much for Kevin to do in his life. Only last Thursday we were all planning the future of AAA at a trustees meeting. A few days before I had been talking to him about things we could do with our Heritage group – involving both young people and the older generations.

On Friday, Saturday and on Monday he was still discussing various upcoming plans with a number of people.

Everyone who knew him will be grateful for any time spent in his company.  We will miss him dreadfully. He was a true great.

But at this moment, it is his wife Paula and his family who need our love and support. All the things he has created will live on, as a tribute to his memory.

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

God bless you mate.




Pictures: Colin Grainger and Kevin’s family.


  1. David Robinson
    April 9, 2021

    Spot on. Thank you Colin for this beautiful and truthful tribute. The world has lost a gem.

  2. Sam
    May 12, 2021

    So very sad to read about the untimely passing of Kevin who was
    an absolute LEGEND. I last spoke to him regarding the Toy Appeal in Dec 2020 & he was incredibly helpful.

    Heartfelt condolences to Paula & the entire family. Kevin’s
    legacy will live on through his creations & commitment towards children & young people forever.

    Thank you Mr Jenkins for all your vision & dedicated hard work.

    Rest in perfect peace

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This article was written on 09 Apr 2021, and is filed under Ambition Aspire Achieve, Christmas Toy Appeal, Kevin Jenkins.

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