Actions of Battersea heroes revealed
Published: Wednesday 30th November 11
The actions of some unlikely heroes during the August 8 public disorder have been revealed at a special ceremony.
Stories of ordinary people standing up to looters and vandals and organising the inspirational broom army in the aftermath of the civil unrest at Clapham Junction were heard at Wandsworth town hall last week.
Wandsworth Council presented six Community Champion awards to selfless individuals for their outstanding efforts during and after the night while a further two were awarded to men who regularly give up their time to help improve the lives of young people in the borough.
After presenting the awards, the borough's mayor, Councillor Jane Cooper, said: "These eight award-winners fully deserve all the praise levelled at them.
"The public disorder that swept through the streets near Clapham Junction shocked and saddened us all - but the criminals responsible failed to overcome the community spirit possessed by so many living and working in the borough.
"I hope the efforts and ongoing work of these selfless people act as an inspiration to others and I thank them for helping make Wandsworth such a fantastic place to live."
The eight Community Champions celebrated at the awards were:
Heather Taylor and James Walker:
Heather Taylor started the #riotcleanup 'hash tag' on Twitter and, together with James Walker, helped galvanise local residents to unite for a mass clean-up operation the morning after the disturbances.
That day, 500 people gathered near Clapham Junction to form what became known as Battersea's Broom Army. Wearing yellow vests, Ms Taylor and Mr Walker were the prime movers of the clean-up.
Hamid Choudhury, the proprietor of the Noiya Indian Kitchen and Bar, in Lavender Hill, valiantly attempted to prevent looting and damage to shops along the road by standing in front of windows and reasoning with vandals.
He ran from shop to shop to block groups of looters with a total disregard for his own safety. Upon coming face to face with those involved he proceeded to "personalise" the shops by revealing details about the owner and how their actions were damaging livelihoods.
So successful was Mr Choudhury that in the earlier part of the evening, he managed to persuade all the groups he confronted to move on. Members of the Lavender Hill Traders Association described Mr Choudhury as "instrumental" in limiting the damage done to businesses that night.
Pamela Price, who has run the Wessex House Club in St John's Hill for over 35 years, was one of the first people to raise concerns with the town centre manager about possible disorder breaking out.
When looters and vandals began their rampage she allowed frightened passersby to seek refuge in her club, ensuring they were okay and later helping them make arrangements to get home. Ms Price also let the town centre manager use her premises as a base from which to communicate with other officials working to maintain public safety.
Peter Ndow guaranteed the safety of customers and staff at the Lavender Hill branch of Pizza Express where he works as deputy manager.
Mr Ndow barricaded everyone, including himself, in two rooms while looters smashed glass and tables and raided the restaurant - even trying to gain access to the locked rooms. Despite the terrifying ordeal Mr Ndow and his staff quickly returned to work in the following days to help with the clean-up operation.
Scott Thwaytes, the manager of the ShopStop shopping centre inside the railway station concourse, was responsible for establishing his team as one of the most important sources of information in co-ordinating the evacuation of people from bars, restaurants and businesses to the station.
Despite being immensely busy on the night, Mr Thwaytes ensured that the town centre manager was kept informed of events at the station as well as providing members of the public with updated travel information.
Full-time firefighter Vincent Anderson has spent the last three years developing links with local youth groups in Wandsworth and has regularly delivered presentations on a wide range of citizenship issues.
The father-of-one has raised awareness about dangerous driving, the danger posed by drugs and alcohol and misuse of fireworks. Mr Anderson has also developed a programme called Champions Mentor, which uses boxing to engage with hard to reach young people - some of who were identified as being on the verge of gang membership.
Patrick Monroe owns a small company called Fit4Kidz, from which he has launched a not-for-profit borough-based community project aimed at motivating children and young people and encouraging them to become active members of the community.
Through the project, he tries to give youngsters a sense of responsibility by giving them sports and life coaching every Saturday on Wandsworth Common.