11:22AM, Friday 17 April 2020
A woman whose ‘single act of kindness’ led to the establishment of support for homeless communities across Slough and London has died aged 101.
Phyllis Wallbank, who set up The London and Slough Run charity, passed away at her care home in West Drayton on Thursday, April 9.
Friends and former colleagues of the MBE said she will leave behind a legacy of love and tireless work for those going through hard times.
Back in 1984, Phyllis was inspired to start providing food and drink for the homeless community in London after she saw a man lying in a cardboard box for the night following a trip to the theatre.
The then Dorney resident enlisted the help of fellow members of the Catholic Parish of Our Lady Peace in Burnham to support the capital's homeless community, with a service later being established in Slough.
John Power, chairman of The London and Slough Run, said: “She was an inspirational character but her legacy is a wonderful one and that single act of kindness all those years ago started something amazing.”
In 2014, the charity fulfilled a long-term ambition of Phyllis’ by launching a winter night shelter for the homeless community which saw rough sleepers given a roof over their heads at seven different churches in the area.
John added: “Phyllis was very passionate about putting that in place so when we finally did getthat off the ground she was so pleased.”
In 2016, she visited St Mary the Virgin Church in Datchet, one of the night shelter locations, where she was presented with flowers by Stephen Boyd, also known as Gruffy, who has since gone on to be housed following a stint at the night shelter.
Ray Waite, from Chalfont St Peter, who started volunteering for the charity in 2000, described Phyllis as having a ‘fantastic love for the homeless community’.
The 78-year-old said: “I remember when I first started I got the trays of sandwiches out of my car and waited for people to queue up but she came over and said ‘that’s not how you treat these people, they don’t come to you, you go to them’.
“She had a very clear idea of how to treat people and she had a fantastic love for the homeless community.”
Phyllis, who was awarded an MBE in 1996, had three children with her husband Newell Wallbank before his death the same year.
The 101-year-old’s cause of death has not been confirmed.
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