A heritage board has been unveiled in memory of a historian who tirelessly worked to improve her community and educate people about its rich history.

Mary Dunhill of Highams Park was remembered with fondness by friends, fellow campaigners and a councillor for Hatch Lane ward at a recent ceremony.

Ms Dunhill, who passed away earlier this year, was instrumental in the development of the board, which contains details about the park’s designer Humphry Repton, considered to be the last great English landscape designer of the 18th century.

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Unveiling the board, Conservative councillor Marion Fitzgerald, addressed the crowd, saying: “It is so sad that Mary Dunhill, who was an expert on the history of Highams Park and who did so much to further the interests of the area, did not live to see all of the improvements which have been put in hand.

“I remember my first meeting with her, nearly 20 years ago, when she cameto my councillor's surgery with her husband, Ron, to express concern about the overflowing litter bin outside All Saints' Church.

“She told me then how concerned she was about the environment in the Highams Park area and how she and Ron went out litter-picking on a regular basis.East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

“Later, I was pleased to be able to read her book, ‘A History of Highams Park and Hale End’, which gave a fascinating insight into the development of the area.

“Until failing health made it impossible for her to continue to do so, she

endeavoured to maintain the meadow in The Highams Park, assisted by others

who helped her. Mary will certainly be sadly missed.”

Cllr Fitzgerald went on to commend the work of campaigners and the Friends of Highams Park group for lobbying for the redevelopment of the park.

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The park has enjoyed significant improvements in recent years, including the opening of Humphry’s café and the opening of a playground, which have made it a “popular and well-used meeting place”.

Projects in the pipeline include new gates at the park’s three entrances and wildflower beds.

It is hoped the board, which is situated near the Keynsham Avenue entrance to the park, will give visitors an introduction to the site’s history and offer an insight into how it has changed significantly through the decades.