VOX POP: Remembering Jack – “He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

VOX POP quotes & pics taken by Claire Taylor / Intro words & pics by Ed King

Soon after the announcement of Jack Dromey’s death on Friday 7 January, flowers and messages of remembrance started to appear outside his constituency office on Mason Road. – with further tributes flooding social media.

Many were in shock at the sudden and unexpected news, sharing their stories and grief both online and off.

Erdington Local took to the High Street he fiercely championed and asked for comment from some of his constituents – for our weekly VOX POP.

(Ed’s note… we used the headline quote to show how Jack Dromey was perceived, by many, as a ‘local man’ – despite being born in Middlesex. The full quote is the last in the VOX POP, which we felt was a testament to the fervour with which Jack represented his Birmingham constituency.)

Holding a position where concerns and complaints were part of the day to day, Jack Dromey heard first hand about the issues affecting people across Erdington – with many looking to his office for answers.

From large scale employment strategies to supporting school fundraisers and independent retailers, the ‘to-do-list’ in the local MPs office was often as varied as it was unending. But as Erdington’s elected voice in Parliament, it was down to Jack Dromey and his colleagues to work through it with tireless dedication.

When Erdington Local asked for comments on Jack Dromey’s death, and life, many people had many things to say – but not all were comfortable having their condolences captured on camera.

Thank you to everyone who stopped to share thier thoughts and stories with us, and to all who agreed to be featured in the article.

Remembering Jack memorial service on Sunday 16 January

A wider public memorial service is being organised by the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce on Sunday 16 January, to be held outside the Co-op supermarket on Erdington High Street from 1:30/2pm.

Speakers will include colleagues from Jack’s constituency office, alongside figureheads from local organisations and community support groups such as Witton Lodge Community Association, Urban Devotion, Erdington Street Pastors, and Spitfire Advice and Support Services.

Jack Dromey’s political peers will also be attending, with further public condolences and remembrance coming from Liam Byrne MP (Hodge Hill), Jess Phillips MP (Yardley), Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Hollyhead, Birmingham Conservatives Leader Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), and Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End).

The memorial for Jack Dromey is open to all members of the public – with the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce inviting people to gather by the Co-op from 1:30pm, with the service scheduled to begin at 2pm.

A spokesperson for the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce told Erdington Local:

“On behalf of the people of Erdington, partners of the Erdington Covid-19 Task Force have come together to organise this tribute event for Jack.

“His legacy went beyond politics. His tireless campaigning on behalf of constituents touched so many lives so we wanted to create a fitting tribute to a man who was progressive and impactful in positively changing lives and communities.

“It’s a chance for the people of Erdington to pay their respects to Jack, to reflect on his work and to share memories of him.

“It should be a great occasion, celebrating the life of a man whose commitment to improving lives made him a hero for the community he served with such passion and honesty.”

Here are a few more memories and messages of condolences from people on Erdington High Street.

Harriet Spencer, Oikos Café, Erdington High Street

“He used to come relatively frequently into Oikos and he would always order a strawberry milkshake, which we used to love.

“He was such a champion of the café and enjoyed that we were hear and all the things we did, especially the music event. It’s really a shock to the area and all of us.”

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Christine Scarl, Pype Hayes

“I heard that he had died… its such a shame. He was really good at letting us know what was going on in the area, we would always be getting the leaflets through the door and everything. It’s such a shame.”

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Pat Wandby, Stockland Green

“I’m sad that Jack Dromey died… it was a shock, he was a nice chap and he always seemed to be fighting for the workers – to help them keep their jobs.

“Like with the HP Sauce factory, which should never have been closed. And he was always fighting for the Jag (Jaguar Land Rover, Castle Bromwich) and other industries.

“He came to our house once over an issue with some garages at the back… I did have a moan at him about Stockland Green and the potholes on the road, by the chip shop. But since then it’s been done.”

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Vera, Holly Lane, Erdington

“He passed away, bless him. He did a lot for Erdington, as out local MP. He did a lot for Jaguar and everything else.

“He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

If you have something to say about any of the issues raised in this VOX POP (or anything else you want to tell us about) please email: mystory@erdingotnlocal.com

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

NEWS: Memorial Christmas tree planted outside EF Edwards on Gravelly Hill

Words & pics by Ed King

A memorial Christmas tree has been planed in the front garden of EF Edwards on Gravelly Hill, in an act of remembrance for local people who have lost loved ones.

The long serving Erdington funeral directors, which has been helping local families through difficult times since 1966, are inviting people to decorate the tree with special silver star decorations – each carrying the names of departed friends and family members.

There is no charge, and the person being remembered with a star on the memorial tree did not need to be laid to rest by EF Edwards.

“We’d like to support the whole community and everyone who may be dealing with grief,” explained EF Edwards Funeral Manger, Lisa Hodge.

“The stars on the tree can help people, especially at this time of year, remember their loved ones and do something a bit more proactive. It can give people who are grieving something to focus on.

“It’s important to acknowledge that grief is a natural process and people have different ways in which they greave and how they get through that process – if we can do something that makes that a little bit easier then that’s what we’re here to do.”

Before Covid, EF Edwards would hold an annual memorial service at St Michael’s Church in Boldmere and display a memorial tree inside their Erdington based funeral home.

But due to the widespread impact of coronavirus and other illnesses, this year EF Edwards are reaching out to the wider community and planting a permanent memorial tree in their front garden.

“We always did a yearly memorial service around this time of year,” continued Lisa, “where we invited people to send in stars with the names of their loved ones which we would place on a tree within the branch.

“This year we want to extend that to the wider community and offer more people the chance to remember their loved ones, by putting stars on a tree outside at the front.

“The fact that it’s a tree that will remain here permanently will give back to both the community and the environment. It gives people the opportunity to pay their respects to friends, family, and loved ones they have lost – no matter how long ago it was.

“We’d like people to come back year after year in remembrance too, as the tree will keep growing and be a permanent fixture on our front garden.”

The perennial winter fir was donated by Short Heath Fields Trust, who are themselves in the process of building a Covid memorial woodland on Bleak Hill Park.

Estelle Murphy from Short Heath Trust delivered and planted the tree at EF Edwards on Thursday 9 December.

Outside of her role with the Trust, Estelle also works in palliative and end of life care and helps people come to terms with grief in her professional world.

Estelle told Erdington Local: “We were contacted by Lisa at EF Edwards and given the fact we’re in the process of building a living memorial for Covid we were more than happy to jump in and help.

“It’s important that people have time to heal, and everybody does it differently.

“The impact on a community from organisations like EF Edwards is vastly important; it’s where the community come when they need help in finding somewhere for their loved ones to be.

“It’s about finding somewhere they can remember their loved ones; funeral homes like EF Edwards are the bridge between the two.”

If you would like to have a loved on remembered on the memorial tree, contact EF Edwards on 0121 373 0300 or click here to visit their website.

PICTURE GALLERY: Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid – Sunday 6 June 2021

Pics & videos by Ed King

A selection of pictures and videos from the Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid – held on Sunday 6 June 2021, at the place he died on College Road in Kingstanding.

Over 1000 people from across Erdington attended the peaceful vigil, which saw community leaders, local politicians, families and friends come together to mourn the loss of another young life.

For more about the Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid click here.


Bishop Desmond Jaddoo adresses crowd

Prayer for unity – Pastor Calvin Young

Psalm 23:4 ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…’

“We are committed to be people of peace” – Bishop Mike Royal

“Every young man… come forward…”

Balloon release

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on https://west-midlands.police.uk/

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

NEWS: Two more charged with Dea-John Reid murder as police search for car that “could be crucial to the investigation.”

Words by Ed King / Pic of Dea-John Reid supplied by family – pic of car by West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police have charged a further two people over the murder of Kingstanding teenager, Dea-John Reid.

George Khan, 38, from Newstead Road in Kingstanding, will appear at Birmingham Magistrate Count today – alongside a 14-year-old boy who has also been charged with Dea-John’s murder.

Michael Shields, 35, from Alvis Walk in Castle Bromwich, was charged earlier this week and is now in prison on remand.

As officers continue to examine the horrific attack, which saw 14-year-old Dea John Reid fatally stabbed after being chased by a gang of men and boys on 31 May, West Midlands Police are looking for a car they believe “could be crucial to the investigation.”

It is believed the offenders arrived and left the scene at around 7.30pm in a dark blue VW Golf with the registration number TN07 GBR.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Mobberley from the West Midlands Police Homicide Unit, said: “We really need to trace this VW Golf and I would urge anyone who believes they have seen the car or knows of its whereabouts to get in touch.

“It could be crucial to the investigation so if anyone has any information please message us or call.

“People can call anonymously, we don’t need their names, just information.

“We are pursuing all lines of enquiry to find anyone else involved in Dea-John’s tragic death and anyone who has information should contact us.”

As anger and sadness washes over Kingstanding, Bishop Desmond Jaddoo has been calling for calm following reports of racial abuse towards Dea-John before the murder.

The Shine-a-Light candle lit vigil has been organsied for 8:30pm Sunday 6 June, outside the MacDonalds on College Road where the fatal stabbing took place – to bring a grieving community together and heal “whatever divisions we may have.”

Bishop Jaddoo told Erdington Local: “It is important at this time that we focus on the fact a young 14-year-old boy, with his life ahead of him, has been tragically taken.

“At this time, his family are in mourning and let’s focus on healing our community and whatever divisions we may have.

“The Shine-a-Light memorial vigil, taking place this Sunday at the spot where Dea-John lost his life, is important – for us to stand together, in unity and as a community.”

West Midlands Police will also be sending officers to Dea-John’s school, Harborne Academy, once students return after the half term holiday.

A Go Fund page has now been set up to support Dea-John’s family with funeral costs and ‘associated expenses in laying Dea-John to rest’.

To visit the online fundraiser visit:  https://gofund.me/3310a53d

Bishop Jaddoo has been running the Yes2Life campaign alongside Majid Khan, to challenge gun and knife crime across the city. Bishop Jaddoo brought the first bleed control kit to Erdington, installed at The Gravevine off-licence on Hawthorn Road, Kingstanding, in October 2020.

A further bleed control kit was installed at The Juicy Joint on Coton Rd, off Erdington High Street, earlier this year – following support from Scarlett Lewis, mother of 6 year old Jessie Lewis who was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo with Joan Reid, mother of murdered schoolboy Dea-John Reid

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

For more information about bleed control kits and the work being done by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo visit www.desjaddoo.org.uk

For more about the Yes2Life campaign visit www.yes2life.co.uk