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Kay Jordan

December 30, 2010
Kay Jordan

Kay Jordan

Kay Jordan was a tireless campaigner for small businesses and social enterprises in the Spitalfields area. More than anyone she understood how rising property prices and the expansion of the City would threaten community based business initiatives. For decades she devoted herself to building and protecting social enterprise that addressed the needs of the local community.

Kay Jordan

Kay Jordan

As the Director of the Spitalfields Small Business Association she oversaw the refurbishment and development of over 62,000 square feet of derelict and underused buildings around Spitalfields. This SSBA initiative created over 100 new managed workspaces.

Kay Jordan

Kay Jordan

Kay always took the side of the underdog and was never impressed by the shiny rhetoric and money of big developers. Her intelligent and incisive attention to detail provided local residents and community organisations with a powerful advocacy in planning matters. Kay would cross swords with anyone to defend the interests of Spitalfields. Her principal weapons were the truth and integrity she deployed in her advocacy for the part of London she had grown to love.

Kay Jordan

Kay Jordan

These photographs of Kay were taken in 2004 in Paris. The visit was arranged to build links with community groups who were defending their area in the face of ‘regeneration’. Her untimely death has robbed Spitalfields of a selfless champion.

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Mike Franks permalink
    December 30, 2010

    What a tragedy!
    I had been trying to get in touch with her (we have parallel carreer paths and used to meet periodically) but lost touch recently
    Can anyone tell me what funeral arrangements or memorial service there will be: I want to pay my respects.
    My condolences to her family
    Mike Franks
    Clerkenwell Workshops

  2. Humaiun Kobir permalink
    December 30, 2010

    This was very sad to hear and came as a shock to me.I was made aware of her passing away over the weekend by Imran from SSBA, of which Kay was the Director. I was fortunate enough to meet her through Imran. I had many enligtening discussions with her, that ranged from community politics, community enterprises and community development particulalry whilst completeing my dissertation on social enterprises at University. She had a wealth of experience in the community sector and made an immense contribution to the community life of the east end, although I would say she was a bit left of my politics and would not entirely agree with her on some policy issues. Regardless of this, her heart was always in the right place, always thinking about the causes of deprivation and barriers facing the community and leaves us with a legacy of her work in helping to found numerous successful businesses in the community.


  3. DAVID BOSWELL permalink
    December 30, 2010

    So sad,Kay was an absolute rock of a woman.
    please let me know about the funerel

  4. December 31, 2010

    Thank you Haz and Phil for this touching tribute.
    It is very sad what happened, hope her family is well.
    Will be at the cerimony in spirit, as abroad at the moment.

    Rest in peace Kay!

  5. Susan Butler permalink
    December 31, 2010

    Dear Haz and Phil,

    Thanks so much for your tribute to Kay, both a solace yet also a reminder of how great a loss this will be both to the community of everyone associated with SSBA and SAFE, and to the wider community of Spitalfields. Something of Kay’s style and spirit really comes across in Phil’s pictures.

    As one of the artists in 7-15 Greatorex Street, I’ve always felt privileged and grateful to be in this historic building transformed with such care, judgment and imagination. There is somehow a sense of creative possibility that is part of the atmosphere of the place. Whether or not she was actually in the building, I always had this feeling when I came in as an aspect of Kay’s presence.

    It is very daunting to realise she will not be there now to catch a glimpse of in the office or to say hello to passing in a corridor. She will be hugely missed.

  6. Christopher Lane permalink
    January 1, 2011

    I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the news of kay’s passing. I remember a conversation we had a few weeks ago, in which I really sensed her passion, energy and determination. It was obvious to me that Kay was a formidable human being.
    I shall miss her greatly. God bless Kay.

    Christopher Lane

  7. Anne Menpes permalink
    January 3, 2011

    The shock of this loss will be felt so widely and so deeply. Kay made her projects felt in such a personal and dynamic way, that I could never walk about ‘our’ studios on Greatorex Street without being aware of her influence, her choices in the buildings themselves. I so deeply admired all she stood for, was in awe of her, and will always feel privileged to have witnessed her extraordinary intelligence, quick understanding, and humour. Such a sad time for all at SSBA, for her family and for all of us, but she leaves amazing legacies in the work she has done. Thanks Phil and Haz for the beautiful photos and tributes.

  8. Pete Jordan permalink
    January 13, 2011

    Just want to say from the whole family thank you Phil for a lovely, well written piece and some great photographs. Which everyone who has seen, feel that they capture some of Kay humour and determination.

    Thanks to everyone for the messages and support. Details of the funeral are midday on Monday Jan 17th at Golders Green crematorium, we intend for the service to be family and close friends. We would also like instead of flowers for people to donate to the SSBA Community Trust which was Kay’s passion.

    SSBA and the family are planning to have an event to celebrate Kays’ life near the end of February in Spitalfields which everyone will be welcomed at.

  9. Michelle Gales permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Kay Jordan was an extraordinary person. Her work was remarkable in Spitalfields, where she helped create and promote imaginative alternatives to the ruthless, short-sighted logic of property speculation. She was also a generous friend providing advice, practical help and moral support for many projects, whether personal or collective. 
    Kay brought a delegation from the Spitalfields Community Association, to Paris to meet up with our Commune Libre d’Aligre in Paris, to create what may have been a “first” : “twinned” community associations. We are honored that the pictures of that trip including the visit to our community garden, l’Aligresse, appear in the photographic tribute to Kay. We will be thinking of all her family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. She will be greatly missed by many far and wide, but her legacy will remain through her many accomplishments, including the SSBA and the beautiful centre in Greatorex Street. And the memory of her lucidity, integrity, humour and dedication will continue to inspire us to work together, here in Paris too, for authentic mixed communities where people stand together.

    Michelle Gales
    and the Commune Libre d’Aligre
    (in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine district of Paris)

  10. Janis Goodman permalink
    February 14, 2011

    I am so sorry and shocked to hear of Kay’s death. I had been a year out student at Solon in the late 1970s and Kay was everything a mentor should be – encouraging, amusing and critical when that was required. We had kept a bit in touch, though I’ve been in Leeds for nearly 30 years – we made a memorable trip to France on an overnight bus once ( 20 years ago ?) , spoke last perhaps 2 or 3 years ago and said we’d meet up but did not manage to do so. I just googled her name this evening , wondering how she was and could not really believe what I read. All best wishes and thoughts for her family and closer friends.

  11. Trevor James permalink
    February 16, 2011

    What a great loss. Kay and I were colleagues at SCHS. After my move to Holland 30 years ago we met up sporadically. Several times she hosted Dutch groups at SSBA on my request. I occassionally organise trips to the UK to encourage Dutch professionals to look at urban regeneration in a different way. A visit to SSBA and a talk from Kay was always an inspiring highlight of such a trip.
    She will be missed.

  12. Carole Ford permalink
    February 27, 2011

    Have only just heard of Kay’s sad death. We were school friends at Whitcliffe Mount in Yorkshire. Although we lost touch for a while after graduating, we met up periodically for mini reunions. Only last year we met for lunch in Spitalfields and she was so pleased to introduce me to the area where I too had worked in the 60s before moving back to Yorkshire. I will miss her so much – her humour, her passion and her intelligence. Kay you were one in a million. Rest in peace dear friend.

  13. reif hawkins permalink
    April 3, 2011

    well lived kay. your life was good and your work was admirable. all appropriate blessings are due you.

    • Susie Symes permalink
      April 23, 2011

      Kay had great integrity,drive and love. She was a support to many,and from the day that we met she was a support and a guide to us here at 19 Princelet Street. I shall miss our Brick Lane lunches, and I think of her every day.

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