Farewell to a dedicated campaigner – Bryan Sobey
Many of you who follow our Facebook page will already know of the sad news that long-time anti-expansion campaigner Bryan Sobey (87) passed away on Saturday, 2nd April.
SHE, and its predecessor the No Third Runway Action Group (NoTRAG), owe a huge debt to Bryan and his wife Ann who spent much of their lives working to help the community in which they lived by creating and maintaining an effective residents’ organisation, the Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents’ Association (HASRA). It is no ordinary residents’ association. Few, if any, villages in Britain have spent so many years under threat from a company on its doorstep. Bryan and Ann inspired us with their dedication and determination and they continue to do so.
Bryan and his wife Ann set up the Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents’ Association more than 50 years ago. They lived in Sipson and had heard of plans to knock down the village school, which was situated on the Bath Road (A4). The airport’s northern runway had been built directly opposite and with road traffic increasing the school was earmarked for demolition. There were apparently no plans to replace it and village children would have been dispersed to various schools in the surrounding area. Bryan and Ann created HASRA and launched a campaign to ensure that children growing up together in Sipson could attend the same village school. The new Heathrow Primary in Harmondsworth Lane, at the other end of the village, was opened in September 1966. (This school has been under threat from a third runway since 2002.)
This victory was only the start. Over the decades Bryan and Ann were a formidable team. They tackled problems, big and small, with the same vigour and attention to detail. Bryan was a mine of information and Ann must have written hundreds of letters in her time. Ann had one of her letters published just five days before she died in 2008.
Ann’s death and his own ill health led Bryan to make the decision to move to Gloucestershire to be near their daughter, Gill. (Gill had in fact been a Chair of NoTRAG in the early days.) When Bryan moved out of the family home in Sipson, his relatives moved in – thus preventing it falling into the hands of the airport.
Bryan and his daughter and family members returned to Harmondsworth a couple of years later for a special service and the unveiling of a new stained glass window in St Mary’s Church to remember the work of this community-focused couple. It features the HASRA motto, “Apathy is the Enemy of the People.”
Thank you to Linda McCutcheon, a former Chair of HASRA and Secretary of NoTRAG, for passing on the following information.