Remembering Stuart Sessions, MBE
We were very saddened to hear of the recent death of Stuart Sessions MBE, a previous Chief Executive of Hammersmith United Charities and the driving force behind the creation of our community grants programme.
In his own words, Stuart was “an actor and voiceover artist who started young, took 20 year diversions into the armed forces, overseas emergency relief work and the charity world before finally returning to my first love: acting.”
Stuart’s summary of his distinguished career is typically understated. Prior to working with Hammersmith United Charities he served as a senior officer in the British army for 20 years, followed by spells as a UN Military Observer and as an Emergency Programme Coordinator for Oxfam. After a successful stint in business, Stuart joined Hammersmith United Charities in 2005 and was with us for 9 years.
Under his leadership the Charity was able to stabilise its finances and build new flats at Sycamore House – sheltered housing for older people just off the Goldhawk Road – as well as create the community grant programme. The grant programme now funds around 60 local charities each year supporting a diverse range of causes from assisting young people at risk of serious violence, to art classes for older people and the widely enjoyed H&F ArtsFest.
Mike Smith, previous Chair of Hammersmith United Charities, worked with Stuart for 7 years: “Stuart has left a lasting legacy for the Charity and the community we serve. As a result of Stuart’s vision and direction the Charity is able to provide safe and secure affordable homes for an additional 20 older people and help and support for more than 5,000 local residents each year.”
Stuart is fondly remembered by many of the residents of our almshouses. Pearl Armstrong, resident of Sycamore House, often speaks of his kindness to her during difficult times: “Stuart was such a lovely man, he was so friendly and if you had a problem you could always go to him and he would help you sort it out. We used to love going to see him act, especially in The Woman in Black, it was a fantastic performance. I used to love seeing his white German Shepherd (Rudi) out in the garden, I still miss him and Stuart.”