John O’Malley, Former Secretary of the Motorway Development Trust, sadly passed away in 2020.
In the late 60s and early 70s, John campaigned and worked to gain the North Kensington community use for the space underneath the newly built Westway flyover. He was a passionate activist and advocated for the community on issues of social injustice and inequality. He worked on resolving housing injustices, introduced play space programmes, helped set up the Law Centre and helped on setting up the Powis Playgroups.
His friend and colleague Adam Ritchie said: “I just remember our double act when negotiating with the council or GLC. We would work out exactly what we wanted beforehand. I would dress up like a pretence Tory in smart clothes and John would wear an old Aran sweater with a pen clipped on the collar. I would propose grand, left-wing, radical solutions to what we were negotiating. John would be sweet reason. They were so happy to hear sweet reason from the street-fighting activist that they agreed to whatever he said. It worked nearly every time. It was a pleasure working with him. A very good friend for 54 years. We got from them a mile-long space under the Westway elevated motorway for community use run by an independent charity in an area of the worst, over-crowded housing in Britain. They had planned it to be a giant car park behind concrete walls.”
We had the pleasure of speaking to John in 2018 about the history of Westway Trust charity and the 23 acre estate.
John will be greatly missed.