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Great gran honoured

SUPER GRAN: Zoe Jaddoo as a young woman leaving Jamaica and (right) as she is today

FEISTY GREAT grandmother Zoe Jaddoo is living proof that at 77 you’re never too old to pick up an ‘Oscar’.

She earned this honour not in the make-believe world of movies but in the real life, transforming tough inner-city neighbourhood on her Birmingham doorstep.

The local figure was given an award in the “Aston Oscars", an event which recognises men and women in Aston for their achievements and service to the area.

Back in the 1980s when Jamaican-born Zoe was a struggling single mum with five children, she refused to sit back and accept that her local school – now the Broadway Academy in Aston–was about to lose its sixth form.

As chair of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) she took on the might of education experts at Birmingham City Council – and continued the fight to keep the school’s sixth form open when others dropped out because they believed the battle was lost.

Now in 2013 Broadway has a thriving sixth form with 200 students, proving the need to save such a vital education department.

Ironically, Zoe received her award at the school she helped to save.

She joined 20 other individuals, groups and businesses, voted for by the community who have helped to make Aston a better place over the years.

The event was organised by local charity the Bidgley Power Foundation.

A spokesperson for the awards, which included East End Foods, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Tesco and Asda among its sponsors, said: “The community voted and helped us to find our local heroes – people who stand out in their local community – people who put others first and help lend a hand. It might vary from just looking in on a neighbour to running a local sports team.”

Zoe, who was chair of the Aston branch of the Labour Party at the time of her school campaign, said: “I think people were surprised to hear it was me who saved the sixth form because there are so many new people at the school now who wouldn’t remember anything about what happened. Getting this award seems a bit late now but it’s made me feel proud of myself in the last stage of my life. At the time, I was so busy bringing up a family I didn’t have time to think much about what I was doing.

“I just knew in my heart of hearts that it was wrong to close the sixth form and I simply wasn’t prepared to accept it. I think it caused a few raised eyebrows at the council that a single black mother was taking up the fight, but I also had great support from others in powerful positions.”

Among her five children is Birmingham community activist Desmond Jaddoo and it’s not hard to see that he has inherited his mother’s campaigning zeal.

Zoe, whose maiden name was Hunt, left Riversdale in St Catherine for the UK when she was 24.

She worked in catering at Birmingham hospitals and also founded a drop-in day centre for the elderly at the Assemblies of the First Born Church in Lozells.

She also did a lot of work supporting local young people as chair of North Aston Community Association.

She said: “I was under pressure to stand as a local councillor, but my children had to come first – I was already devoting enough time to the community. I feel very blessed because I have such faith in Christ and when you have faith you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. You never give up.”

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