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#GreaterLondoner: Brenda Meadows, 87

BBC London

Brenda Meadows

I’m still alive after nearly dying. I’m 87 and proud of it.

My mum used to say I was “a stubborn moo” because they were called to the hospital three times when I was born and were told I wouldn’t last the night. But I did.

Two car accidents.

Three miscarriages.

One premature baby which passed away.

And a few other catastrophes, but I’m still here. It makes you stronger.

My husband used to call me ‘Mrs Bossy Boots’ and ‘Mrs Nosy Parker’.

Now I have no more family left in England.

I’ve worked with the Scout Association for more than 65 years.

Because of the tragedy of our own children, I just wanted to help.

It just gives me a lot of happiness to think I’m doing something for someone.

My reward is people’s faces when they smile.

I started volunteering at this food bank because it’s near where I’ve lived all my life.

I hope that through my church work and scout work people are feeling accepted, happy and secure. They can’t get rid of me.

I was told ‘there’s no rest for the wicked’ and ‘only the good die young’.

I write poetry and in a couple of weeks I’m going to do stand up comedy about old age.

There’s no reason not to enjoy life.

Brenda Meadows, 87, Hammersmith & Fulham

If you know of someone that deserves to be featured as one of our Greater Londoners you can nominate them.

Simply send us an email a greaterlondoner@bbc.co.uk with a brief message telling us why or message us on Instagram @BBCLondonPeople.

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Brigade concerns over lack of sprinklers in schools

Firefighters have not attended a single school or college fire in London this year where sprinklers were fitted, new figures have revealed.

London Fire Brigade said of the 57 educational establishments in London which had fires up until 25 July, none had automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) fitted.

Between 2014 and July this year, only 2.3% - 13 - of the 565 so-called "school fires" had sprinklers.

The statistics cover blazes attended by fire crews at preschools and nurseries, infant and primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities, the brigade said.

It said it wanted sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and for others to be fitted with them during major refurbishments.

Firefighter with a sprinkler
PA Media

Its deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety Charlie Pugsley said: "Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and can raise the alarm."

He added: "Millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London's schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire.

"This is not just about saving money; when a school is closed it disrupts a child's education, impacts on the local community and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs."

The fire service said that sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smolder undetected, causing "extensive and expensive" damage.

chelsea flag

Dan Roan and Patrick Nathanson

BBC Sport

Young Chelsea footballers were targeted for years by a "prolific and manipulative sexual abuser" who was able to operate "unchallenged", says a damning report.

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Ex-homeless man paints pictures of rough sleepers

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Andrew Mcleay
Andrew Mcleay

An ex-homeless man who paints rough sleepers on the streets has started selling his portraits, and using the proceeds to fund the soup kitchen he runs.

Andrew Mcleay found himself on the street in March 2008 after arriving from Australia.

Just over a decade later, he now organises the Ealing Soup Kitchen, and uses his love of painting to help fund his endeavours.

So far he has sold three of his portraits, getting £80-130 for each.

That might not sound like a huge amount, but it pays for about a month’s worth of supplies for the kitchen.

Each portrait has been bought by members of the public, and Andrew said using the money for anything other than supporting the homeless would feel wrong.

Andrew Mcleay

“I wouldn’t want to benefit from anyone’s dire situation, so I think it’s important that any proceeds I get from the paintings go back into the soup kitchen. The homeless are great because they’re generally happy to have their photos taken, and I just paint from that. As a painter generally it’s about trying to capture something that people don’t always see. It’s like trying to tell a story without any words."

Andrew Mcleay