Post People: ‘Little change in Dagenham over the years’

Terry Justice with his wife Maire

Terry Justice with his wife Maire - Credit: Archant

Friends of St Chad’s Park chairman Terry Justice, 80, talks to Phoebe Cooke about a life spent in Dagenham, from evacuee to a man of the river and parks...

“I was born in Bow on October 27, 1935. Dogs and children weren’t allowed in my parents’ rented flat, so they applied to Dagenham council when new estates were being built, and were offered a two-bedroom house in Sheppey Road.

“At the age of four I was evacuated to an unknown family in Somerset and later to Scotland with my Aunt Pat and her four children – one of the happiest periods of my childhood.

“My last school was Bifrons, where I shared a form with George Carey, later Archbishop of Canterbury.

“I worked on the Thames for 28 years, first as a waterman and lighterman, then as a tug skipper.

“A keen sportsman, I played rugby for more than 10 years and was a first class cricket umpire.

“Towards the end of the John Major government I joined the Conservative Party and served as a local councillor in Marks Gate from 2008-10.

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“I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again for nothing if the opportunity arose.

“The borough has changed very little since my childhood and the basic problems of occupancy and traffic are still evident.

“I have seen how St Chad’s Park went through a period of neglect with fires and drug use, until local people began to take an interest and the council responded accordingly.

“The thuggery was eliminated and the park has become a safe and pleasant place to visit.”