Remembering Ken

Ken-Lees-banjo-Gail-and-Jim's-31-Dec-2013-Kenneth Frank Lees, 27 June 1944 – 19 July 2021

Ken Lees, the former editor of the South Woodford Village Gazette, sadly passed away last July. His wife Sue Lees remembers a man who was passionate about this publication

It is with great sadness that I pass on the news to readers that my husband Ken, who was editor of the South Woodford Village Gazette from 2004 to 2015, died on 19 July 2021, after a short time in hospital. His death was not Covid-related. 

I’m sure some readers will remember Ken. He was often around South Woodford, discussing adverts with shop owners or delivering a copy of the latest issue in his fedora hat. He and I would also often take a break for lunch at one of the great local cafes. I used to help out as ‘newshound’, picking up on local stories, but Ken was very much in charge of the advertising, design and production of the Gazette.

Trained at Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts, Ken worked in London as a successful freelance designer and illustrator, completing projects for companies such as ICI, Toshiba, Shell, Yamaha and, locally, Walthamstow Stadium.

He took over editing the South Woodford Village Gazette in 2004 from its founder, Jack Lamport Mitchell, and enjoyed the friendly community in South Woodford, and the regular day to day contact with advertisers. He was particularly keen to ensure every South Woodford address received a copy of each issue, and he and friend Geoffrey would often deliver the latest issue together. It was a healthy change from his computer work, though he often joked: “It took me 40 years’ work to become a paperboy!”

It’s a tribute to Jack’s original idea and Ken’s hard work and skill that the Gazette grew from an eight-page, black and white magazine in 2004 to a 32-page, colour one in 2015. It’s great the publication continues to flourish today.

Among Ken’s extended family were several professional variety stage performers. His Uncle Rhys, a singer and banjo player, also performed in dance bands at venues like the Kit Kat Club. Learning banjo himself, Ken played in country dance bands and appeared at festivals throughout his life, often playing one of Rhys’s banjos.

Ken also founded two of London’s most successful folk clubs, in his time booking legends such as Mike Harding, Barbara Dixon and John Cooper Clarke – the programme was varied!

He designed publicity material for the Woodford Festival and organised folk concerts and dances as part of the festival programme.

Ken took pride in his work on the Gazette and the service it provided. We both enjoyed our time working on the publication, meeting local people and making some good friends along the way.

The last issue of the South Woodford Village Gazette to be edited by Ken was the July/August 2015 edition, which can be viewed at swvg.co.uk/jul15

Leave a Comment