The Queen has sent a birthday greeting to the founder of a day centre in Ladbroke Grove which helps elderly people who moved to this country from Africa and the Caribbean.
She sent the message as friends and family came together to celebrate the 90th birthday Pansy Jeffrey, who set up the Pepper Pot Centre (PPC) 34 years ago to help combat discrimination, isolation, depression and loneliness amongst the growing generation of Caribbean older people.
Her Majesty opened PPC in 1981 and visited again 25 years later in 2006. She had been invited to attend February's birthday celebrations at the centre, based beneath the Westway Flyover in Thorpe Close, Mrs Jeffrey's son Howard Jeffrey MBE, who is also the PPC chairman.
He received a response from the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting which read: “Her Majesty was pleased to be reminded of the Pepper Pot Centre Services which are greatly valued among all communities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and, although unable to join you in celebrating the founder’s special birthday, The Queen hopes that Mrs Jeffrey has a memorable time at the Day Centre.”
Mrs Jeffrey was born in 1926 in New Amsterdam Berbice in what was then the Colony of British Guyana.
She came to England in the 1940s and trained as a nurse, ward sister and health visitor. She wed Lionel Jeffrey in 1951 and they enjoyed 42 years of marriage until his death in 1993.
The great grandmother’s long association with Kensington and Chelsea began in 1959 when she was appointed as a West Indian Social Worker at the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) after the Notting Hill riots, before helping set up the Notting Hill Social Council & Notting Hill Housing Trust .
Centre now known across the world
She was involved in numerous other local projects including the original Carnival Committee, and for over 20 years she was a Justice of the Peace at Horseferry, Marlborough and Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.
In 1980 she opened a drop-in centre at the CAB office after noticing an increasing number of senior citizens of Caribbean origin suffering from isolation and loneliness
She then established the PPC, which has continued helping older members of the African and Caribbean community for more than 30 years.
The party marked her many achievements and recognised Mrs Jeffrey’s tireless fight against racial discrimination over the decades. Speaking at the party her son said: “The centre is well respected nationally as a model of excellence in the relation to the delivery of culturally specific services.
“It empowers African and Caribbean older people to take charge of their own lives after sacrificing so many of their youthful years for the United Kingdom.”