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About LRA
Former Councillors and Executive Committee Members

These biographies are taken from sources of some years ago.They are included for the sake of completeness and are not systematically updated

Ian Allsop was an Executive Committee member and the editor of LRA's Loughton Life newsletter. He lived in Loughton for some years having escaped from Leytonstone and regularly enjoys the delights of the nature reserve and access to Epping Forest with his young family. He is a freelance journalist and editor specialising in the not-for-profit sector and financial issues. Previously he used to edit Charity Finance Magazine, the leading journal for senior management in the voluntary sector, but gave it up to be a full-time Dad. He is a parent governor at White Bridge Infants School and his other interests include cooking, sport, music and literature.

Ken Angold-Stephens was a District and Town Cllr for Roding Ward from 2004. He was a Chartered Electrical Engineer, and most of his career was spent in broadcasting. His interests included music, photography and badminton. He was Chairman of the District Council for 2011-12 and Loughton Town Mayor for 2009-10. He was a Governor at Staples Road School. Much of Ken’s work at the Councils took place behind the scenes. His most visible achievement - and one he was rightly very proud of - is the memorial garden on Roding Road; Ken tenaciously did all the fund-raising, the project management and a fair amount of the planting. He sadly died in 2016.

Amy Beales was a District Cllr for Forest ward. She lived in Loughton for over 10 years. In Holland, she studied International and European Law and she now works as a paralegal in the City. 

Jack Benjamin was educated at Davenant Foundation Grammar School. All his working career was in the Insurance Industry, concluding as a Director of an international firm of loss adjusters and member of the British Institute of Management. He is a widower and has three children and five grandchildren, all of whom live locally. He was a long-standing LRA Executive Committee member and had been a Town Cllr.

Margaret Chalk was Town Cllr for Roding ward. She lived in Loughton for many years and worked as a Personal Assistant and as a Secretary for a period of over 10 years. She works to protect our green spaces and countryside and has been a committee member on the Essex Wildlife Trust Epping Forest Group for 25 years, as well as a tree warden. She is also a past secretary of the Debden Community Association. She sadly died in 2020.

Richard Cohen was a member of the LRA Executive Committee and a District Cllr for St Mary’s Ward (2010-14). He has lived in Loughton 20 years and in nearby Chigwell before that. He is a lawyer by profession. He is involved with Rotary Club initiatives for people with special needs.

James Dean was born in rural Ireland and now lives in Colebrook Lane with his wife Mary and two young sons, Paul and Tom. His skills include a practically based mechanical and electronic ability. He worked as a Computer Technician for Forest School. The wealth of natural habitat and cultural diversity we have access to here, in Loughton, is of great value and should be nurtured for all to enjoy. He is a country person and a keen angler deriving pleasure in sharing his interests with others.

Kay Ellis has been a member of LRA since 1980. She was District Cllr from 1988 till 2000, and first LRA Chairman of Epping Forest District Council 1995/96. She was a Town Councillor for St John's Ward until 2004, sitting on the Finance and General Policies Committee. She is on the Management Committee of Loughton Citizens Advice Bureau, a committee member of the Epping Forest Alzheimer Society, non Executive Member and Vice Chair of Epping Forest Primary Care Trust, with special interest in Older People, and Chairman of Loughton Abbeyfield Society. She moved to Waltham Abbey.

Colin Finn was an LRA District Cllr for Forest ward. He was an LRA member for the eighteen years and had a good knowledge of local issues. He served for eight years as a Conservative Party County Cllr, initially for Loughton St Johns and then for Buckhurst Hill and Loughton South. He served on numerous committees at County Hall. At County Hall he worked closely on Loughton matters with the LRA County Councillor. For some years he was the chairman of the Board of Governors for a local primary school. Prior to returning to the UK many years ago, he was in central Africa and South Africa for 30 years. Colin sadly died in 2013.


Leon Girling was a Town & District Cllr for Broadway ward. He lived in Loughton and has attended a church in the area for over 20 years. He is married with children. He was active in the community since the age of 16 entertaining residents at local retirement homes, organising and participating in local community and charity events, and helping local residents with gardening and DIY jobs on a voluntary basis. He is passionate about defending Jessel Green from development. He moved to the Isle of Wight in 2017.

Barry Johnston was a committee member. After leaving the Fire Brigade in 1989 he built up a successful career as a commercial photographer, was a Licentiate of The British Institute of Professional Photography and The Royal Photographic Society, and now takes pictures for pleasure. He is married with one daughter and two grandsons, they keep him and his wife very busy.

Chris Harper was our successful candidate for the then County Division of Loughton St Mary's in 1997. We had not contested St Mary's in 1993, after our longstanding councillor had left, and it was taken by Labour then on a crest of a wave. Chris served one term, when the very evenly balanced County Council was served by equal numbers of Conservative and other Cllrs, so was a rather popular Cllr in that for about 18 months he held the balance of power. He used to say that this involved playing a very straight bat indeed. Chris was chairman of LRA for about four years in the early 2000s and also served a short spell on the Town Council after his retirement. Chris sadly died in 2021.

Suzanne Harper is a long-serving supporter of LRA and was an Executive Committee member. She was chairman of the Town Council in 2001-02 and Town Mayor in 2007-08. She played a major role in the development of the community and youth centre in Borders Lane. She is a Guider for Rainbow Guides, a Tree Warden, and her most absorbing interest is English folk dancing.

Jennie Hart was a member of the Executive Committee and was a District Cllr for Broadway ward (2010 –2014). She is a qualified teacher, botanist, and garden designer. She has lived most of her life in Loughton (though originally from Yorkshire) and knows the Debden area well through community projects and teaching at Oakview School. She has also worked for Debden Community Association at Loughton Hall and was a school governor. She was a volunteer for Home Start Epping Forest for 7 years. She moved to Shropshire in 2015.

Les Harris has lived in Loughton for nearly 20 years, with his wife Sue. He took early retirement in 1993 after 37 years with Whitbread & Co. Les serves on the Management Committee of Loughton CAB, and on the committee of Epping Forest Alzheimers Society. He is a keen golfer and is on both the House and Course Committees of Theydon Bois Golf Club, taking responsibility for health and safety issues.

He joined LRA in the early 1990s and served as a Town Cllr for Forest Ward from 1996 to 2004, latterly chairing its Finance and General Policy Committee. He also served as a District Cllr for Forest Ward from 1998 to 2002. 

Ron Heath was raised in Leyton/Stratford in the 30s, the son of a milkman, and last of a family of nine. He married Pam in 1954 and moved to Loughton in 1963 by way of Leytonstone and Buckhurst Hill. They have two sons and a daughter and three grandsons. He started work as a 16-year-old office boy for Sir Thomas P Bennett’s West End architectural practice and studied at evening school on a nine-year recognised course in architecture at the Northern Polytechnic (now the University of North London) gaining an honours degree and becoming a member of the RIBA in 1959.

He joined LRA at its inception in 1981. He lurked around the fringes until invited to join the Committee in 1989 when coerced into standing for St Mary’s Ward on the district council following the retirement of Ted Webb in 1990. He served 12 years as LRA District Cllr, seven of which as Chairman of the Development Committee (the senior planning committee) and one year as Chairman of Council. During that time he served on the CAB and on Epping Forest Access Group. He has been Chairman of the Loughton High Road Town Centre Partnership.

He is mostly interested in planning, development and forward planning.

Peter House is a long-serving supporter of LRA and was an Executive Committee member and a Town and District Cllr for Forest ward. He has retired from the family exhibition-design business now owned by his children. In his spare time, he is an amateur woodworker and musician and is involved in the running of the Loughton Arts Centre. He moved to Buckhurst Hill.

Barry Johnston was an Executive Committee member. After leaving the Fire Brigade in 1989 he built up a successful career as a commercial photographer, was a Licentiate of The British Institute of Professional Photography and The Royal Photographic Society, and now takes pictures for pleasure. He is married with one Daughter and two Grandsons, they keep him and his wife very busy.

Kevin Latchford was a Town Cllr for Fairmead ward. He has lived in Loughton in the Debden area since 1993 and in Fairmead Ward since 1997. He is married with 2 sons and works as a Maintenance Technician with London and Quadrant housing trust. His main interest is sport. He has coached local junior cricket and football teams and can be often heard on the Tottenham podcast Echoes of Glory. He moved to Uttelsford in 2020.

Imogen Lawrence was a Town Cllr for St Mary’s ward until 2016. She has since moved to Abridge.

David Linnell was a member of the Executive Committee and was LRA County Cllr for Loughton St Mary's from 2001 to 2005. He’s still involved in LRA's responses to local planning applications and the draft Local Plan, and with LRA’s email bulletins of local news for members. Before retirement, he worked as an Actuary for the Prudential, a Director of the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau and a member of the Council of the Institute of Actuaries. He was also a Governor of Roding Valley High School for seven years. His interests are walking, travel, food and drink, reading, classical music, theatre and opera.

John Mahoney was a Town Cllr for Broadway ward until 2021. He is life-long resident of Loughton. He went to St John Fisher Primary School and grew up appreciating our town and its community. He has been involved with Scouts, the CAB and was Secretary of Loughton Club. He’s now resident manager of the Lopping Hall in the High Road, where he meets many local groups. For 20 years, he worked in the Insurance industry. He is also a lay member of a School Admissions Appeal Panel.

John Markham was District Cllr for St John’s ward until 2014. He retired after a career as a building services electrical consulting engineer here and abroad. He is interested in art and has painted in both oils and acrylic, having studied part-time at the Chelsea and Central Schools of Art. Another interest is modern jazz and he tries to play the tenor sax. He also does work for the human rights group Amnesty International. He moved to Somerset in 2014.

Harvey Mann was a member of the Executive Committee, and a Town and District Cllr for St Mary’s ward until 2014. He grew up in Hackney- his first job was a tea boy at a Fleet Street photo agency. Aged 20, he went to Berlin as picture editor of the Daily Mail, retiring in 1992 as Associate Editor. Since, he has helped launch the British charity for mountain gorillas in Rwanda. After years of travel, he needed a peaceful, orderly town with warmth and character, a welcoming high street and like-minded people.

George Meltser was a member of the Executive Committee. He is originally from Latvia and has been living in Loughton since 2001. He works in Central London as a Technical Consultant but spends most of his spare time in Loughton enjoying walks in the forest, beautiful countryside and often visiting the shops and the restaurants the town can offer. He moved away in 2019.

Adam Omer was a Town Cllr for St Mary’s ward. His son goes to a local school, as he did. Adam has lived all his life in Loughton, and for 20 years in Alderton Ward. He’s involved with Loughton 41st Scout Group, Avenue Tennis Club and Roding Valley High School PTA. He has relied on local buses for 20 years, so he’s aware of their importance for people without a car. He retired in 2021 having moved to Cheshunt.


Debra Roberts was a District Cllr for Alderton ward. She had lived in Loughton for 44 years and is married to Chris Roberts (see above). She commutes to work in the City so knows about public transport. When her boys were at school, she worked delivering meals for the elderly, then at Alderton School. She has moved to Norfolk.

Sheila Shillitto grew up in Wanstead and Westcliff-on-sea. She spent her working life in the ‘glamorous’ world of fashion. During this time she married, had three children and experienced first hand the challenge of balancing family and work needs. More recently Sheila gained a degree in Fine Art, a diploma in Foundation studies in Art Therapy and from then worked on community art projects. She enjoys gardening, the visual arts, theatre, music, books, cycling, sailing and horseriding.

An LRA member since 1984, Sheila became 
an Executive Committee member in 1997, has served as Chairman, and was part of the team that produced ‘Loughton Life’ and helped to design the LRA website. She has moved to Edinburgh.

Tracey Thomas was a District and Town Cllr for Alderton ward. She lived and worked in and around Loughton nearly all her life, but has now moved to Brentwood.

Sharon Weston was a member of the Executive Committee and a District and Town Cllr for Forest ward, and Town Mayor for 2014-15. She walks 2 Yorkies in the Forest daily. At Epping Forest College for 25 years, now she’s an Ofsted inspector. Sharon has four grandchildren and wants them to benefit from the Forest, the Green Belt, our historic buildings and the lovely environment of Loughton. She moved to Uttlesford in 2017.

John Woods and his wife Janet and their two children moved to Loughton in 1982. As a Chartered Librarian he worked in a public library in South Wales, then at the Ministry of Defence until retirement. His interests are transport, especially railways (history and modelling), military and other history, and writing.

He has been a member of LRA since 1982, and joined the Committee in 1983. He edited over 120 issues of ‘Loughton Life’ , and enjoyed writing short articles which told the membership what was going on in Loughton, but then took a sabbatical to become webmaster of this site.

Bela Yorke was an Executive Committee member. He was born in Budapest, Hungary and came to Britain in 1956. His working history mostly involved computers and he worked for ICL and NCR as a large computer system specialist and for BT as sales manager for complex IT products and networks. He retired in 1996 and ever since does what his wife tells him to do.