Vivienne Wood has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her service to one of Hammersmith’s most treasured community centres.
She has chaired the management committee of Grove Neighbourhood Centre in Bradmore Park Road, for the past decade, helping it survive through the pandemic by organising a fundraising drive.
Vivienne, who turned 67 this week and lives in Stowe Road, Shepherds Bush, a 10-minute stroll from the centre in Brackenbury Village, was thrilled to be awarded a BEM. “It means a great deal,” she said. “I feel honoured, and a little bit embarrassed.”
Staff at the centre (who were in the dark about the honour until she returned to work at the start of this week) have described her as “the glue that keeps the place together”.
She moved to the area in 1990 and began her association with the centre as a volunteer cook. Then she joined the management committee in 2010 and was swiftly voted chairman. “I do feel passionately about the centre,” she said. “We serve a diverse community, and a lot of our users are isolated.”
During the Covid pandemic Vivienne – who is married with two grown-up daughters – marshalled the troops to raise funds to keep the centre afloat via gifts, grants and donations, with staff and managers taking pride in keeping the building ship-shape.
A ‘quiet hero’
H&F Leader Stephen Cowan praised Vivienne for her work and dedication by saying: “I’m delighted Vivienne Wood has been recognised with a BEM. Vivienne is one of those people that make our world a much better place.
“From starting as a volunteer cook, to chairing the Grove Neighbourhood Centre since 2011, Vivienne and the team have consistently acted to tackle isolation, bring people together, and add a little happiness into people’s everyday lives. Vivienne Wood is a quiet hero who has strengthened our community and enriched the life of lots of local people. This award is so well deserved. I am extremely grateful to Vivienne for her inspiring work and commitment to others.”
Grove Neighbourhood Centre
The centre was set up in 1973 in the former Grove ward (hence the name), starting life in an old prefab building. After that was knocked down in 1982, today’s purpose-built community centre was created.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has supported the project, which includes a drop-in advice service, giving it a grant in 1994 to allow it to build a second storey and broaden the range of activities. The following year that extension won a design award from the Hammersmith Society.
Its two halls and three smaller meeting rooms are hired out at affordable rates to community groups and organisations, with activities including yoga, keep fit, art classes, dancing, toddlers, and as a surgery centre for the area’s councillors.
But top of the popularity charts is the Friday lunch club – it not only gives attendees a hot meal, but also provides important social contact for the area’s residents. The youngest lunch club regular is 75.