The living descendants of fire hero, George Arthur Roberts, who won this year’s Southwark Blue Plaque, have spoken of their pride and joy at the award.
George earned a reputation in the First World War for his ability to throw bombs back over enemy lines and then went on to save countless lives in Southwark as a fireman living in Camberwell during the Second World War, earning himself a British Empire Medal and founding the local branch of the British Legion.
George met his wife Margaret in 1920 and they lived at a few different addresses in Southwark, but he settled in the Lewis Trust Dwellings in Warner Road, Camberwell and this remained his home until he died in January, 1970.
The 6’2” gentle giant was a clear winner of this year’s Southwark Blue Plaque bagging well over half of the votes cast for his contribution to Southwark at a time of great change and turmoil.
George’s granddaughter Lorraine Gill said her grandfather was “very tall and very black” making him a noticeable target for racism, which the family suffered a great deal of in those early days. “He did much service for his local community, be they black or white, and by the time of his death in January 1970 he had become much respected within the Camberwell and Peckham area,” she said.
Lorraine said she and her cousins are “very proud of his achievements,” adding that “his outstanding work and attitudes deserve recognition.”
George’s great-granddaughter, Samantha Harding said: “We are all very proud of this tremendous news of the honour of a Blue Plaque.
“I’m particularly thrilled for his late second daughter, my aunt, Violet, who was so full of her father’s achievements and mirrored many of them in her own extraordinary life.
“It is fitting that his grandchildren and great, great grandchildren should have this Blue Plaque to remember him by and themselves strive to his level of achievement.”
Local historian, Stephen Bourne, who spent years researching the “forgotten Camberwell hero” told the News last week he was “thrilled” to hear George will be recognised by a Southwark Blue Plaque.