Harlesden charity founder who has helped children and seniors in Brent made MBE

'Mr and Mrs MBE' Elva and Philemon Seal. Picture: H Sealy

'Mr and Mrs MBE' Elva and Philemon Seal. Picture: H Sealy - Credit: Archant

A charity founder from Kingsbury has been recognised with an MBE 11 years after her husband received the same Queen’s Birthday Honour.

Elva Sealy has been made Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the community in Brent.

The 85-year-old former nurse is the chair of WISE (West Indian Social Care and Education Project) in Alric Avenue, Harlesden, which she founded with friends in 1982.

“I was elated and excited to receive the award,” said the grandmother-of-two. “I was surprised. All through the years I’ve done what I’ve done because I enjoy it and I do it from my heart. It’s good to be recognised and rewarded.”

She has been married to former Brent councillor Philemon Sealy for 54 years, who received an MBE in 2009, also for services to the community.

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Mrs Sealy qualified as a nurse in 1962 and set up Wise before she retired.

The charity was set up as an education project for underachieving children and their families in Brent, but three years later it was extended to become a cultural space for West Indian senior citizens.

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Outside of the Covid pandemic, senior citizens can come to the day centre and take part in activities including chair exercises, bingo, singing, flower arranging and art.

Mrs Sealy said: “I was a nurse for 41 years and one day we were having a get together and one of the girls said ‘wouldn’t it be nice if we could meet once a month.’

“Most of us had young children and that’s how it started. The community was involved, my husband was involved in advising us how to go about it, the project was well supported.”

They shifted the priority to senior citizens after children would tell them how isolated their grandparents were.

Over the years, Wise has taken members to Barbados twice, to Paris and to the seaside, as well as provided an annual sit-down meal at Christmas.

Recently, one of the members turned 100 years old.

“We had a Zoom party, she thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Mrs Sealy.

Mr and Mrs Sealy have two daughters together. One of whom, Pam Sealy, said: “My nickname for them is Mr and Mrs MBE, they’ve both worked so hard in the community. They are big shoes to follow.”

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