|The Memorial Bench in its setting in Barham Park|
Guest blog by Philip Grant
There are many good reasons to visit Brent’s parks and open spaces, and last Sunday another reason was added to the list of why you should visit the excellent Barham Park. A group of family, friends, Labour Party supporters and (my own category) local historians gathered in the park for the unveiling of a memorial seat to Len and Joan Snow. They had been married for seventy years when Len died in November 2013, and both had lived ninety active years, more than sixty of them as Wembley residents.
They had been stalwarts of the Labour Party since the Attlee years of the 1940’s, and Len was a local councillor for more than 25 years up to 1990, and Mayor of Brent in 1976/77. It was not surprising, then, that the main speaker at the short ceremony was Paul (now Lord) Boateng, the former MP for Brent South, whose strongest memories of them were for the kindness and love they shared with everyone they met, rather than their political work.
I had known Len and Joan only since 2007, and the conversations we shared were mainly about local history, not politics. One of my best memories of Len was from a talk he gave to Wembley History Society about Japan. As a 22 year-old British officer, he had been in charge of a district in southern Japan as part of the allied army of occupation after the Second World War. Despite the cruelty displayed by the Japanese army in South-East Asia up to 1945, Len soon developed a love and respect for the ordinary people of that country and their culture. A visit to Hiroshima, just months after an atomic bomb had been dropped on the city, left him committed to nuclear disarmament for the rest of his life.
It is fitting that Len and Joan’s memorial seat is in a peaceful and beautiful setting. I would encourage you to visit it. You can find it by entering the park beside the former Barham Park Library, going straight ahead into the walled garden area, through the gateway at the far side between the two lion head fountains from the 1924 British Empire Exhibition (now sadly damaged), then up the path to the right and turn left along a path to the top of a small hill.
A plaque on the seat asks visitors to remember Len’s legacy, a life of service to his community, carried out with kindness, fairness and humanity – that is something that all politicians, both local and national, and not only within the Labour Party, should reflect on, and an example that they would do well to follow.