East End mourns Bernie Cameron, its ‘feisty, champion’ who shouted to get his way

Bernie Cameron, 1934-2016, East End's housing champion

Bernie Cameron, 1934-2016, East End's housing champion - Credit: East End Homes

A leading housing campaigner and one of the founding members of a major housing association in London’s East End has died at the age of 85.

Bernie Cameron, who came to East London as a child refugee fleeing Nazi Germany when he was four years old, passed away peacefully last Wednesday.

Bernie was a tireless campaigner on housing issues well known for his work on estates in the Mile End, who was named National Tenant of the Year by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service in 2010.

But he could be “feisty, stubborn, and determined” and not beyond shouting to get his own way, his former colleagues at EastEnd Homes housing association recalled—which Bernie often said was sometimes “the only way to get things done”.

He was instrumental in helping to establish EastEnd Homes in 2003 and served as vice chair for many years.

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Bernie arrived in Britain as a Jewish child refugee in 1938 with his mother, but spent the war years in an orphanage after she died.

He later married and settled in Whitechapel, a qualified electrical engineer for GEC Marconi, who was rehoused with his wife Merna on Mile End’s British Estate in the late 1960s. They were among the first tenants to move into the iconic Berkeley House tower block.

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But the restless Bernie didn’t sit back. He led a campaign for essential repairs and improvements to the estate and made sure there were benefits from a programme of works following its transfer to EastEnd Homes in 2005, when he was in his 70s.

He was proud of his voluntary work and organised football teams with youngsters from estates in Mile End, getting grants and other funding for sports activities at the British Street community centre.

Bernie served as Vice Chair of EastEnd Homes’ board of management following its transfer from Tower Hamlets council and also chaired the Mile End Estate Board until he finally retired in 2013—yet continued to be actively involved at the British Estate community centre.

But his health increasingly failed and he was recently admitted to the Royal London Hospital with breathing difficulties. His condition worsened.

Bernie Cameron, sadly, died peacefully in hospital, at 85, on the morning of February 17.

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