Gazette letters: Leroy Harewood, lockdown and refugees

Che O'Grady is looking for memories of her father Leroy Harewood.

Che O'Grady is looking for memories of her father Leroy Harewood. - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

Memories of dad

Che O’Grady, daughter of Leroy Harewood, a former journalist at the West Indian World, writes:

My dad, Leroy Harewood, a member of the Windrush generation, was also one of the first Black men to attend Warwick University. I’m currently working on a documentary about his life; I’d love to get in touch with anyone who may have memories about him and/or articles that he wrote.

Unfortunately, my dad died when I was 16 so I never got to ask him about his 30 plus years in England.

I’ve attached a photograph (above). He may have used a pen name instead of his legal name so if you or someone you know recognises him from the photo, please get in contact.

You can reach me via my website at

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!

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Take precautions to save lives

Dr Opat, GP, Cranwich Road Surgery, Stamford Hill, writes:

Cases of coronavirus are rising across London; some people are in hospital, including in intensive care.

I am particularly worried about the rise in positive cases of coronavirus in the over 65s in Hackney, as these people are more at risk of hospitalisation and severe illness, as well as being concerned that young people, even children, are catching Covid-19, resulting in further community spread.

I wanted to bust some myths, so that we can work together to help protect each other – especially those over 65 who are at higher risk of complications from coronavirus.

The first is that people think the virus is weaker than before. I don’t agree; Covid-19 is still a very serious illness, and many more patients, both young and old, are being affected by this condition.

Secondly, some people think that even though they might have symptoms of a cough or fever, it isn’t really Covid-19. They may be wrong – we all need to play it safe. So if you have a fever and/or a new cough and/or change to taste or smell, then book a test, no matter what. You and your household must self-isolate whilst waiting for results.

Lastly, we all know the importance of washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering and making space, by keeping 2m away from people not in our households.

We also need to follow the London-wide Tier Two restrictions and not visit other people’s homes (including homes of grandparents), as this is where we know that many infections of coronavirus are being transmitted.

If we take these precautions, then we can save the lives of people in our community and keep our loved ones safe. It’s up to all of us; remember hands, face and space to keep Hackney safe.

Vulnerable people

Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill, writes:

Mr Johnson, in entering lockdown, and I predict it will still be in place next March, will mean more deaths from cancer, heart disease, loneliness and the consequences of unemployment.

Labour politicians who do not admit this are doing the country a disservice.

In addition, this time the council must make sure no vulnerable person is ignored. I know a 27-year-old lady with multiple sclerosis who has not been contacted by the council despite living in a council property.

She has not been contacted by her estate manager, ward councillor or social services. Although she is alright, I fear that there are many more like her.

Refugee tragedy

Sasha Simic, Stoke Newington, full address supplied, writes:

In August, Boris Johnson described the handful of refugees so desperate for a better life they risk their lives trying to cross the English Channel in flimsy boats as “very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal”.

Four refugees, including two children, drowned attempting the crossing on Tuesday (October 27).

Johnson said his “thoughts are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in the Channel today”.

In August, Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, was condemned by humanitarian groups for making videos attacking refugees.

In one video Elphicke posted on Twitter, she stood next to an empty boat and declared it “unacceptable that people are breaking into Britain in this way”.

Elphicke was forced to tone down the scale and venom of her attacks when far right vigilantes began patrolling the coast looking for refugees to attack.

Elphicke declared it was “terrible that tragedy has struck in the Channel again”.

Tory Home Secretary Priti Patel has spent the summer attacking refugees and playing up to anti-immigrant racists.

Patel has mobilised the Royal Navy against vulnerable people fleeing war and poverty in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

These are all places Patel has voted to send the British military forces into.

Patel went as far as to create the post of “clandestine Channel threat commander” with the directive to make the route to the UK via the channel “unviable”.

She has argued that “wave machines” and “floating walls” should be used against refugees in the Channel and wants to deport them to camps on Ascension Island and St Helena.

Patel has described lawyers who want to give refugees the benefit of Human Rights as “do-gooders” and “activist lawyers”.

Yet Patel says she is “truly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life” in the Channel.

Such hypocrisy plumbs new depths, even by Tory standards.

The Tories have made a safe route into the UK near impossible for refugees.

Only recently, they voted against a proposed clause in their new immigration bill which would have allowed a safe route into the UK for refugee children.

It is Patel and Johnson and Elphicke who are “very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal”.

They have the blood of refugees on their hands.