Farewell to Finchley’s Gentle Giant

On 25th September 2012, London tragically lost one of its greatest characters; Horace White.

Horace White

Londoners are often criticised for being an unfriendly bunch… but Horace did a sterling job of proving that this stereotype isn’t always true.

For three decades like clockwork, Horace would take the 263 bus from the Grange Estate in East Finchley up to the bustling high street in North Finchley, where he would wander up and down, pop from shop to shop and sit on the pavement drawing pictures for children.

Blessed with a truly heart-warming grin, Horace loved to have a friendly chat with any stranger he could. Those whom he knew well could expect a great big bear hug. 

I personally met Horace seven years ago.

After a stint in the West Midlands where I’d become disillusioned at working in secondary education, I had returned to London where a North-Finchley based friend kindly offered to put me up whilst I sought work.

Feeling rather down at the lack of prospects, I was walking along the High Road when Horace spotted me and asked me how my day was going. His big smile and kindly approach genuinely cheered me up within moments and, as we bade farewell, he wished me “the best of luck”- his favourite catchphrase.

Horace with his sister, Selina- who said “When my father died in 1991 it was just me and him (Horace)… I never looked at him as my brother- he was more like my son.”

Horace suffered from chronic diabetes and also had learning difficulties… but his memory was as sharp as anything. He could famously remember the name of anybody he’d met, no matter how long it had been since he’d last seen the person. He also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop music.

*

On the 24th September, Horace collapsed outside the Whittington Hospital in Archway. He was rushed inside and doctors fought for two hours to save him, but the great man sadly passed away that night.

He was just 54 years old.

The gentle giant’s funeral will be held on 9th October at Islington Cemetery Chapel, East Finchley and so huge is the expected turnout that a PA system has been organised to broadcast to those unable to fit inside the chapel.

A petition, asking Barnet Council to allow a memorial bench to Horace to be placed in the area, can be found here

R.I.P Horace.

Horace White. 1958-2012.

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9 responses

  1. A very nice piece Robert. Very sincere and heartfelt.

  2. Horace White really did have a wonderful smile. I remember him well having lived in North Finchley myself for 20 years. He certainly was a character and will be sadly missed.

  3. I remember Horace White very well. I lived in North Finchley for 20 years and saw him nearly every day, usually outside Smiths or Boots. He really did have a lovely smile. He will be sadly missed!
    LJB

    1. Many thanks for the kind comments. Finchley has lost a great friend.

  4. That was a lovely piece. I am sorry you lost a friend and a wonderful person. I’m sad to know I will never meet him.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer, those are very kind words. Horace had many, many friends that’s for sure.

  5. I had many occasions to see and even talk to Horace over many years whilst living in finchley,
    but as a young and immature individual I rarely saw him as I should have done, your article has made me realise my own faults as a caring human being.

    1. Thanks, Chris that’s really kind of you.

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