Over the last few issues of The Whistler we have been introducing the current members of the West Hill Community Association management committee (the Trustees) to give you a flavour of who they are, what they do and maybe to inspire you to become one yourself.
In this issue we meet VINOD MASHRU
Together with my wife, Meena, I run Bright News in Buckingham Road, at the heart of the West Hill Community. The shop has been through a number of incarnations in its long history: a bookmakers, drapers, Bevoort Store Company, and a wine and spirit merchant to name but a few. From the 1920s onward it has served predominantly as a newsagent, also offering a valeting service in 1958!
I had been working as a newsagent in Ilford, and Meena was running her family’s newsagent in Tunbridge Wells. Then we came together and established Bright News on 18 February 1985. WHCA and the community celebrated the 30th anniversary of our shop with a surprise party for us in the Hall in 2015. Our own children, Vishal, Anish and Karishma have grown up in and around the shop, but also a big part of our history are the many local families who we have seen grow through the years and now their children, and in some cases grandchildren, are discovering the delights and hospitality of Bright News and West Hill.
We have met and come to know countless people over the last 33 years here. In the early days, three doyennes of West Hill, Pat, Frances and the inimitable Pam Bean, introduced themselves to me and regularly came into the shop to get biscuits and refreshments for the regular ‘Grand Sales’ which they held as fundraisers for the Hall. Their enthusiasm and energy for community events was remarkable. Sylvia, the WHCA Chair, introduced herself to Meena one day, and soon Meena was busy organising food festivals in the Hall and helping with events there.
Over the years, Meena and I have always supported the WHCA in one way or another: being the pick-up and drop-off point for the key to the Hall; providing home-cooked Indian food for the twice-yearly history talks; keeping a collection box in the shop which raises a few hundred pounds towards the publication of The Whistler; and, of course, not forgetting the highlight of the West Hill social calendar, the almost annual WHCA Christmas Social, which has been held at the Hall since 1985 and which we have organised since 2007. We are taking a break from it this year but, like Arnie, we’ll be back!
In 2015 when Sylvia retired as Chair, I became the Chair of WHCA. The Trustees meet 4 times a year and we discuss matters of local interest and importance and how to improve the service and opportunities that the West Hill Community Association can give to the local community. We are always looking for new people, new ideas and new energy to ensure that the Hall and The Whistler continue to thrive long into the 21st Century.
It is a very modest time commitment so I encourage you to think about giving a little of your time to keep the West Hill community spirit flowing: join the committee, join The Whistler editorial team, become a Friend of WHCA by helping out with events.
It is with sadness that we heard of the death last December of one of our former trustees, the energetic and proudly Scottish, Isla Robertson (pictured), who served on the committee between 1996 and 2012.
Isla was the WHCA rep on the B&H Council Conservation Areas Advisory Group for many years and was a champion of, and activist for, senior citizens’ rights. She was an Age UK Trustee and, before retiring to Brighton, Isla, a life-long Labour Party member, served as a Westminster City councillor between 1986 and 1990.