On Sunday, 26th September, a memorial service was held for former Labour Councillor and local Fulham legend, Brendan Bird. He had passed away at the height of the Covid lockdown in April 2020 so it was only now that we could come together to celebrate his life.
Brendan was a devout Catholic and so, first, there was a service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the presence of three priests, one of whom was the Anglican vicar of neighbouring St. Matthews Church, Sands End. This was because one of the great gifts Brendan had was to work with everyone with good intentions regardless of religion or party. For that reason at the reception that followed at Sands End Community Centre in South Park, two MPs gave eulogies, both Conservative Greg Hands and Labour Andy Slaughter and who spoke about key moments when Brendan’s kindness and intelligent discernment helped them serve residents in the best way they knew how.
I first came across Brendan while telling for a by-election. He was quite famous as the “King of Sands End” as he had promoted the schools, the community centres and all the local amenities that he and his twin brother Tony Bird got involved in. They both lived with their respective families in Sands End all their lives.
We often met in the market in North End Road and he gave me tips about what his wife Viv thought would be good: potatoes at Christmas, for instance, that I invariably got according to his advice. Then there was Stop the Sewer Campaign where, if the disruption has not been as catastrophic as feared so far and the Community Centre in South Park has been built—it was all because of our campaign to conditions that Thames Water had not envisioned.
However, I pay tribute to him being the first politician to take notice of the Save Charing Cross Hospital Campaign of which I was a founder—we were handing out the £60 worth of leaflets we had managed to get printed and as I stood at the corner of North End Road he, like everyone else, could not believe that the closure was even envisaged! But he was a good listener, even though he knew I was a LibDem, and he realised it was serious. Only sometime later did other politicians come on board. After seven years of campaigning, we got the decision reversed.
Others knew Brendan because of his love of Blues music and yet others as a devoted supporter of Fulham Football Club. In fact, he wished that donations be made to the Fulham FC Foundation in his memory.
All the speakers described his main characteristic: kindness. It is why so many local people talk fondly of him. Eventually we too, among our LibDems, will get people elected who live their whole lives in Fulham or Hammersmith and are known since childhood for their local contributions. They will then go on to become part of the very fabric of the local community and become Councillors of whatever party they choose in order to serve it as well as they can.
Brendan Bird is an inspiration for us all and I shall miss him greatly.