Neighbours hail Harold Hill's 'community spirit' following tragedies

Residents defend Harold Hill after newspaper article

Residents have hailed Harold Hill's 'community spirit' - Credit: Harold Hill Unleashed

Harold Hill neighbours have called for more governmental help to tackle knife crime but defended the area's "community spirit" after it was the site of another fatal stabbing in just over two years.

A 17-year-old boy called Daniel Laskos was fatally stabbed in Church Road, Harold Wood, on Friday, May 7. 

That was close to the scene where Jodie Chesney was fatally stabbed in 2019. 

In light of national press surrounding the incidents, residents contacted the Recorder and took to the Harold Hill Unleashed Facebook group to call for more action on knife crime and to uplift the area. 

Born and raised in Harold Hill, St Neot's Road resident Wayne Lowther acknowledges that "things have got worse" over the last few years, but believes this is the same for other London boroughs.

Of the area where he grew up, Wayne said: "The community spirit in Harold Hill is fantastic and when I see my fellow 'Harold Hilliardians' pull together, I see people that really want change but we need the government or mayor to step up to help make it happen."

Emma Smith is another lifelong resident of the area who is "very proud" of where she comes from.

She gave this example of the area's community spirit: "Last year my mum had her hanging baskets stolen and I have never know anything like it.

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"Within an hour of them being taken, a lovely man delivered new baskets for her. The next day a lovely lady delivered two more.

"The amount of text messages she got offering to replace them was amazing."

Harold Hill deer

The deer that roam in Harold Hill are much-loved by many residents. - Credit: AK Hussain Photography 2021

Joanna Tilley Parker said Harold Hill is not "a really down and out rough place".

Recalling how the community rallied in the aftermath of Jodie Chesney's tragic death, she's clear that Harold Hill is "not a bad area".

Though aware of its imperfections, Joanna wants more emphasis on the area's positives, such as the "beautiful" Manor Nature Reserve and grazing deer.

Angie Chalmers, a resident of Harold Hill for 61 years, said: "If it was so terrible, we would have moved away."

She does not shy away from the "terrible incidents" that have happened in the area, but believes this is not "a true picture of what our community is about".

The Harold Hill Unleashed Facebook group is a community page created in 2017 by Dave Curtis, who feels passionately about showcasing the good the area has to offer.

Knife crime campaign group patrol Harold Hill streets

Campaigners from Take a KNIFE, Save a LIFE patrolling the streets in April 2019. - Credit: April Roach

More than £10,000 has been raised for charity thanks to the power of this group, whose members are currently working with TAKSAL (Take a Knife, Save a Life).

Created in the aftermath of Jodie's death, TAKSAL aims to provide guidance and opportunities for people to anonymously hand over knives for disposal.

Dave praised "the good things the community has achieved".

"Harold Hill has its moments like most areas, but when the community is needed most come forward and help. An amazing community and a good place to live", he added.