Tributes pour in for the president of Enfield Over 50s Forum, who has died aged 95, writes James Cracknell
Tributes have poured in from across the borough for Monty Meth, the president of Enfield Over 50s Forum who died last month aged 95.
Monty was a journalist and campaigner who will leave a lasting legacy in Enfield and beyond, having remained active in the community right up until his death.
Friends and colleagues have described Monty, a former Daily Mail reporter, as a “people’s champion”, a “relentless campaigner” and as a “driving force” at the forum where he played an integral role for 22 years.
Born in Bethnal Green, Monty took an interest in photography at an early age and had a role as a messenger for a photo agency in his teens, before joining the Royal Navy in 1944 to help with the war effort.
After the Second World War, Monty’s journalism career took off, and he became a well-respected reporter. He worked in local journalism in Leeds before joining the Daily Mail as industrial correspondent in 1965 and later being promoted to industrial editor. In 1970, he won the News Reporter of the Year award for his “capacity to secure exclusive news”.
In Monty’s later career he moved into public relations and ran his own private consultancy, before retiring in 1999. Having lived in Enfield since the 1960s, in retirement Monty got involved with local community campaigning and joined Enfield Over 50s Forum.
Monty was made chair of what was then called Enfield Older People’s Forum after attending just two meetings; the group had been in need of some dynamic leadership and Monty had demonstrated a wider vision for the organisation.
Under Monty’s stewardship, the forum expanded massively – from just 70 members to more than 6,000 – and is now thought to be the largest voluntary sector organisation in the borough. It runs weekly advice sessions, social events, a film club, meetings with guest speakers, and annual events such as a winter fair that brings local healthcare providers together to tackle winter-related issues affecting elderly people.
The forum has also run several successful and influential campaigns, using connections with Enfield Council and local MPs to campaign for fairer public health funding, protecting the winter fuel allowance and free prescriptions, and calling for local improvements such as community toilets, better bus services, and pavement repairs.
Monty was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2007 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the communities of Enfield and Bethnal Green.
Still an active writer, Monty wrote a newspaper column in the Enfield Gazette and Advertiser prior to its closure in 2017, and subsequently began writing regularly for the Dispatch after it was launched in 2018. He also wrote for the forum’s newsletter.
Monty lived in Oakwood with his wife Betty and together they had two children, Ian and Gill, plus four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He died earlier this month having recently returned home from a short spell in hospital with an illness.
The executive committee of Enfield Over 50s Forum issued a joint tribute that said: “It is hard to describe how much we all will miss Monty’s contribution to our work to improve the lives of older people in Enfield. He has been one of the driving forces behind the forum for more than 20 years and his dedication, enthusiasm and sheer hard work has been instrumental in our success.
“He was particularly good at identifying problems and creating campaigns to provide solutions. He was hugely admired and loved by those who knew him and we will miss his humour and humanity.”
Monty was a long-time Labour Party supporter but was well-respected across the political spectrum for his work championing local causes.
Council leader Nesil Caliskan described Monty as “a brilliant character and effective campaigner” who was “utterly committed to making Enfield a great borough for everyone to live in”. Enfield North MP Feryal Clark said he was “relentless in his campaign on health” and that his death was “a huge loss to Enfield”.
Joanne McCartney, the London Assembly member for Enfield and Haringey, said: “Monty was a great campaigner for the people of Enfield. His campaigning brought people together with the aim of making our borough better and fairer.”
Former council deputy leader Daniel Anderson said Monty was a “true people’s champion” who “did so much for Enfield”. Joanne Laban, leader of the Conservative group, said: “He worked tirelessly as president of [Enfield] Over 50s Forum and will be very much missed.”
Former Enfield mayor Saray Karakus, who chose Enfield Over 50s Forum as one of her charities during her year as mayor in 2018/19, said Monty had been very supportive during her mayoralty, adding: “He soon conquered my heart. He truly was a gentleman, caring for others in the sweetest way.”
As editor of the Dispatch, I first met Monty when the paper was in its infancy, after I arranged to interview him about his life and work with the forum. Monty had a tremendous enthusiasm for local journalism and was keen to help this new fledgling publication – he knew the role that local media could play in representing, supporting and championing the community.
Monty wrote for us often, usually on our health page (most recently in the February edition), and helped raise awareness of crucial local issues that might otherwise have been missed. He attended meetings of the local clinical commissioning group, scrutinised reports, and put in a level of hard work that I found quite staggering given his advancing years!
Thank you Monty, you will be much missed.