Award-winning New Orleans Estate stalwart John White dies ages 91
PUBLISHED: 16:07 15 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:45 17 July 2019
An award-winning community stalwart who had a plaque made in honour of his tireless work on the New Orleans Estate has died aged 91.
John White nurtured the green spaces and gardens of the Hornsey Rise estate for more than 30 years, and was given an Islington Mayor's Civic Award in 2017 for his efforts.
Born in Sligo, Ireland, in 1928, John moved to London as a labourer and worked on the new houses and roads across the borough.
Thanks to his "amazing head for numbers" he soon got a job in a betting shop in Finsbury Park, which he later went on to manage.
Father to Mary, Andrew and Dominic, John also leaves behind two grandchildren, Chris and Thomas, and was set to become a great-grandfather.
In 2016 he was recognised by the New Orleans Estate residents' association and the council, who commissioned a plaque engraved with his initials and a new raised garden bed as a thank you for his work.
His gardening also led to two runners-up prizes at the Islington in Bloom Awards, and he was described as being "instrumental" in fostering a sense of community on the estate
His friend Ngoma Bishop told the Gazette: "Some joy has gone from the world, but the result of his having dwelled among humankind endures.
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"He was probably the most good-natured human being I ever knew and selfless in the extreme.
"He always had a good and kind word for even the most miserable or undeserving.
"At least three generations of local folk will - or should - remember he was always there with encouragement, whether or not it was appreciated.
"Almost singlehandedly, John upkept most of the green spaces on the estate.
"Together we established what is now a regular award-winning community food growing and gardening space, reclaimed from a derelict one-time sports area.
"I know that I would not have had the energy or drive to see it through without his strength and passion."
John was also an inspiration to people facing physical challenges, as he carried out his work despite being severely limited in the use of his left hand.
Ngoma added: "If there are angels, John has well and truly earned his wings many times over.
"I shall try my best to ensure that the plaque is maintained."