Colin Grainger

Goodnight inspirational Irene – oh how we loved you

The wonderful Irene Poole has sadly passed away. I have been honoured to know some very special people in my life, and Rene was one of them.
Kind, polite, a real lady and a joy to be with and talk to. Truly inspirational.
She passed away on Saturday at Newham General after a short illness.
Born in 1922, she was a Woodcrafter as a Pioneer and remained active throughout her life, running groups and camps and as secretary of Newham Watersmeet. She had very many stories to tell and an incisive wit and was adored by generations of Woodcrafters.
She was also highly involved in a wide range of other community and charitable projects and was given the Honorary Freedom of the Borough in 2004.
Rene was joint vice president of Newham History Society.
She was also a prolific letter writer and contributed many times to the Memory Lane column I ran as Editor of the Newham Recorder. I still have a beautiful letter from her when my time at the Recorder came to an end.
She was also a great supporter of the Newham Mayors Association and regularly attended functions of the group, which is made up of ex-mayors, deputies, councillors and also people who have worked in Newham and have given service to the community for many years.

We last saw her at our day at Debden House in Essex in the summer with her son Geoff when she was in great spirits and spoke to us all about her life in Newham and involvement over many years with the Woodcraft Folk. She brought a drum made by her father. 
Debden House was a special place for her and she attended hundreds of events and functions there over many years
Writing in our newsletter, assistant editor Stephanie Nunn and pubisher Sheila Oliver said recently: “Rene told us that in 1931 she won a scholarship to the grammar school, on leaving she took the civil service entrance exam.
“She was working for the Registrar General’s office in 1939 and because of the war they were moved to Blackpool. She earned 28 shillings a week and at first the board and lodging were paid for. When this ceased money was very tight and Rene asked to see the Registrar.
“She successfully managed to get a little extra money which she could send home to her mum. In 1934 her Dad went to a Woodcraft Folk meeting and then started a group locally. Rene has been involved with Debden from the start. In 1951 there was an international camp with 2000 children from all over Europe and she was on the catering committee which required tremendous effort.”

So many people in our community will miss this woman with a heart of gold.

Typical of the tributes are the two I have used here.

Judith Garfield, from Eastside Community Heritage said: ” I was so pleased to know her and interview her a few years ago. She did so much for the local community and supported so many young people in Newham to reach their potential.”

Suzannah Walker, chair of Newham Watersmeet Woodcraft Folk, said: “Rene truly was a wonderful woman, she was involved in so many causes and was incredibly generous with her time. An example to us all. I’m going to miss her presence as will many Newham Woodcrafters young and old.”

Farewell and Goodnight Rene, you will be sorely missed.  Our thoughts are with your loved ones.

Pictures: Colin Grainger

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This article was written on 07 Nov 2017, and is filed under Irene Poole, Newham Woodcraft Folk.

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