Flashback: A Royal Red Cross, a sex pest’s double and a council boycott

Redbridge Town Hall

Redbridge Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A look back at the biggest local stories from this day 20, 40 and 60 years ago.


The Queen bestowed the highest award for nursing to a Chigwell resident for her service as a squadron leader in the Women’s Royal Air Force.

Sqdn Ldr Jessie Mary Higgins, of 22 Grange Crescent, received the Royal Red Cross while on holiday after serving two years at a field hospital in the Far East.

She served in the WRAF for 18 years and was appointed matron of Princess Mary’s Hospital in Aden during the outbreak of World War II.

Mrs. Emma Higgins, her mother, said: “I was thrilled when I heard she would be going to the palace to receive her award from the Queen.”

Sqdn. Ldr. Higgins was educated at Loughton Girl’s School and studied nursing at the London Hospital.

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A body double was used to hunt for a Redbridge ‘sex fiend’ in an unprecedented step by Barkingside Police.

Pat Jacobs, at that time a 19-year-old journalist from Seven Kings, was stopped by detectives for his “uncanny resemblance” to a man who had attacked four women.

After detectives cleared Pat of any connection to the attack, they asked his permission to show his photo in house-to-house inquiries.

He said: “I am told that my nose is a little broad, my hair parted differently and that I am four inches too tall. But they stay my face is astonishing like the man they are looking for.”


Redbridge and Waltham Forest health watchdogs boycotted a health authority meeting over secret discussions of multi-million pound cuts to services.

Dominic Ford, Redbridge Community Health Council’s chief officer, and his Waltham Forest counterpart were outraged to learn of the cost-saving measures.

“Secret” papers revealed major cuts to every service area and the postponement of planned investments, althgough no definite decisions had been made.

Facing the axe was the Goodmayes Hospital which was to be replaced with community mental health teams by the end of the year.

Their statement said: “Private discussions about cuts in services which will have a massive impact on the health of local people are a travesty of public accountability and the Government’s code of practise on openness in the NHS.”