Anita Broome, tireless volunteer once tracked by Special Branch
'She felt very strongly about injustice and would do what she could to fight it'
04 November, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
ANITA Broome, who has died aged 76, will be remembered for her tireless work in Highgate Newtown.
A lifetime of voluntary service included being a trustee and board member at Highgate Newtown Community Centre, sitting on the Safer Neighbourhood committee, working on the project known as the “Three Point Park”, and using her professional skills as a seamstress and dressmaker to run a sewing group. Anita was born in the Irish fishing village of Skerries.
At the age of 16 she began a dressmaking apprenticeship with a fashion company in Stephen’s Green, Dublin. She stayed there until she moved to London in April 1967, joining other emigres in a shared house in Kilburn.
After arriving on a Thursday morning she had three jobs lined up by Friday. Her first place of work saw her using her sewing talent at a Knightsbridge fashion house, before moving to another firm 18 months later.
In the early 1970s she taught herself secretarial skills on a borrowed typewriter and worked for a City company while still sewing at night for a young fashion designer.
She also worked as a secretary for an international women’s organisation for a decade and held a role at the World Federation of Girl Guides.
Anita had been politically inspired in the 1960s, concerned with civil rights in Northern Ireland and the war in Biafra. She joined the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and attracted the interest of Special Branch.
She recalled in an interview about the experiences of Irish people in London how two men wearing suits knocked on her door at 2am and quizzed her about other members of the campaign group.
They told her she was known to be a member and they were aware that she had been on demonstrations, though to Anita’s relief, they never returned. Her friend and fellow community centre board member,
Mags O’Reilly, told the New Journal: “She was a really fun person and never lost the will to laugh at stuff. “We sat at many meetings giggling. She loved a party and she loved the community. She felt very strongly about injustice and would do what she could to fight it, mostly behind the scenes, and going to meetings or on marches. “I will miss her sense of fun – and she could be really stubborn too. “Once she had made up her mind about something, she stuck to it.”
Anita is survived by her son Malachi, three grandchildren, four brothers and two sisters. dan carrier