British Estate community centre renamed after Mile End people's champion Bernie Cameron
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 January 2019
© Rehan Jamil
A community centre on a housing estate at Mile End has been renamed after a refugee from Nazi Germany who settled there and was responsible years later for its mammoth regeneration.
Families on the British Estate joined staff from Eastend Homes and the mayor of Tower Hamlets to toast Bernie Cameron’s success in campaigning for its modernisation.
Bernie, who died in 2016 aged 85, was among the first tenants with his wife Merna to move onto the new council estate in the 1960s.
Years on, he made sure it got the benefits from a multi-million pound regeneration that followed its transfer to Eastend Homes housing association in 2005.
“Dad loved this place,” Bernie’s daughter Gill Bassam said. “He was a real community person, with a positive attitude that meant he saw beyond the obstacles. Helping others enriched his life.”
Bernie arrived in Britain as a Jewish child refugee with his mother in 1938 before the outbreak of the Second World War, but spent his early years in an orphanage when she died.
He grew up to become a voice in the community and tenants’ representative in his dealings with Tower Hamlets Council in the 1970s and 80s.
Ex-councillor Neil McAree said: “Bernie achieved so much with the simple aim of making things better for others.
“This estate would not be the place it is today without him. It’s right that we are naming this centre after Bernie Cameron.”
Bernie’s activities for his neighbours included setting up boxing and football teams, running clubs for young mums, organising the famous 999 events at Victoria Park and chairing both the Tower Hamlets tenants’ compact group and police liaison committee.