Published: 25 May, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
A KEY figure in the campaigns for the release from prison of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four in the 1970s is to be honoured with a plaque.
Jack Kennedy (1935-2003), a campaigner from Drayton Park, Highbury, devoted his life to justice, fairness and equality. He was involved in the release of a total of 10 innocent citizens from prison during an IRA scare in that period. He also led a campaign in the 1990s that exposed the number of deaths on British building sites due to poor safety conditions – the campaign succeeded in introducing new site safety legislation.
Florence Keen (1868-1942) is also to be honoured with a plaque. She founded the North Islington Welfare Centre, Manor Gardens, Holloway, which included the Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers in 1913.
At that time around 10 per cent of children in Islington died before their fifth birthday. Keen worked to educate mothers about preventing disease and death among their families. By 1920, the clinic had received more than 12,000 visitors and its services had expanded to include dentistry, massage and artificial sunlight treatment. The organisation, now known as the Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, continues to provide community healthcare in Islington.
Cyril Mann (1911-1980), painter and sculptor from Finsbury, is also honoured. A campaign calling for a plaque for the artist was featured in the Tribune.
Mann was known for exploring the dynamic effects of sunlight in his work and early in his career was inspired by bomb-damaged buildings in London after the war. He lived in Bevin Court, Cruikshank Street, for 10 years.
An Islington People’s Plaque to last year’s winning nominee Edith Garrud, the ju jitsupractising suffragette, will be put up this summer followed by the 2012’s People’s Plaque winners throughout the remainder of the year.
The popular award scheme – started in 2010 to recognise the people, events and places that have shaped the borough – continues to capture the public’s imagination.
Up to 4,000 people voted online and by post.
Council leader Catherine West, said: “They were chosen by the people and for the people – these green plaques mark the unique and diverse contributions that have stamped their mark on the borough. I very much look forward to joining community members throughout the year at the unveiling ceremonies.”