Former police officer Kevin Holland, from Magdalen, attends Tessa Jowell's memorial service in London
A former police officer from Magdalen was among the guests at a service last week paying tribute to the life of a politician whose constituency he used to serve.
Kevin Holland, now managing director of renewable energy installation company The Solar Shed, attended the service of thanksgiving for the life and work of Dame Tessa Jowell at Southwark Cathedral on Thursday.
Mr Holland said: “She was an absolute legend in my lifetime. She was absolutely brilliant. It was a big honour to be asked to go to the event.
“There are not many politicians of her calibre, her resolve, her focus and her integrity. She could be a lesson to all of our politicians.”
Mr Holland met Dame Tessa, who was MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, while working as a police officer in Walworth in south-east London.
He said, as vice-chairman of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, he used to invited her to events at the club, such as prize presentations.
“She supported us in many ways,” he added.
Dame Tessa brought the UK’s first ever SureStart to the area in the late 90s, he said.
The SureStart programme, along with the acquisition of the London 2012 Olympics, are often thought of as two of her biggest achievements.
Mr Holland said Dame Tessa was also present when he was granted Freedom of the Borough, just before he left the police force.
The pair stayed in touch over recent years, catching up regularly, and Mr Holland said it was “wonderful to see” such a variety of people at the memorial service.
Former prime ministers Tony Blair, who Mr Holland was a protection officer for in the late 90s, and Gordon Brown also attended Dame Tessa’s remembrance service.
Mr Holland said: “There were lots of personal friends, people from the community and world leaders.
“It was wonderful to see all of those people who held her so dear. She had the same connection with street cleaners as she did world leaders.”