Video: Fred, the first of South London’s Hidden Heroes

Just try not being touched by this peek at the work of charity South London Cares, who offer a chance to meet some of your older neighbours

Meet Fred from Walworth. Fred is the first star of six short films produced by South London Cares with local filmmaker Tim Marrinan. The videos celebrate south London’s ‘Hidden Heroes’ – our older neighbours in Southwark and Lambeth who have contributed and continue to contribute to their communities and neighbours around them.

Fred has lived within a square mile of Elephant and Castle for all of his 92 years. He started life when the Elephant buzzed with trams, barrow boys and the brand new picture houses of the 20s.

Whilst everything around him has developed beyond recognition over the years, it’s hard to imagine that Fred has changed much. His stories give fresh meaning to the term ‘character building’.

Fred shows us a wartime portrait of himself
Fred shows us a wartime portrait of himself

In 1940, aged 17, Fred travelled down to Ramsgate to help bring soldiers back from Dunkirk, returning to south London that day only to take shelter in Borough Underground station with his neighbours. From there he joined the army and fought in North Africa and Italy, and as he says in his new film (above), “tried to help a few people along the way.”

Despite a recent dip in his physical health, Fred has a completely optimistic and contagiously playful approach to life. Always on the lookout for a chance to play a game of cards or dominoes, or to place a bet, he’s in his element when sharing his top tips to get a good competitive game out of someone.

Fred is unable to get out and about now, but through South London Cares’ one-to-one match up scheme we introduced him to young volunteer Charlotte who lives five minutes away. Charlotte’s visits are balanced between catching up on the week’s news and a few games of dominoes.

As you watch the film, we hope you enjoy spending time with Fred as much as we do. Please share his story and come back to Below the River next week to meet the wonderful 70-year-old Lupita from Clapham, who shares her colourful world with us.

Tess Young is Programme Coordinator of South London Cares, a community network of young professionals and older neighbours hanging out and helping one another in a rapidly changing world. Find out more about them here.

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