Memorial ceremony for Gladys Wundowa
6 July 2006
A ceremony centred round the unveiling of a plaque in the UCL Front Quad on 5 July 2006 marked the tragic death of UCL Cleaning Operative Gladys Wundowa, who was killed in last year’s 7 July bombings. The plaque dedicated UCL’s new Indian bean tree, at the heart of UCL, to the memory of Gladys.
Four people gave short addresses at the ceremony. Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of UCL, was the first to address the small group of Gladys’ family, friends and colleagues who were gathered together. He talked about the terrible events of the bombings, and how the UCL community had gathered together in the face of these. He said that Gladys’ death, after working at UCL for 16 years, carried a particular sadness for the university.
Those 16 years saw Gladys become a well-respected and well-liked member of the cleaning operation, said Sue Godsell, Head of Facilities Services at UCL. Sue outlined Gladys’ career at UCL, starting as a part-time cleaner in UCL German, and going on to work in many other departments, ending up in UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering. Gladys was liked by her colleagues for her hard-working attitude, her kindness and readiness to help out, as well as for her forgetfulness – she was always searching cheerfully through her handbag for something she had misplaced.Professor Nick Tyler, Head of UCL Civil & Environmental Engineering, got to know Gladys thanks to his habit of arriving at work very early – at the same time as the cleaning staff carry out their work. He described Gladys’ presence in his office in the morning as a “ray of sunshine” and talked about the important role that the cleaning operation has to UCL. Although not always noticed and acknowledged, academic work at the university could not continue without the support of UCL’s cleaners.
Last to speak was Gladys’ husband, Mr Wundowa. He thanked UCL for commemorating his wife through the bean tree dedication, and for the ongoing support that UCL community had offered to him and his family over the past year. Mr Wundowa unveiled the plaque, and read it together with his two children Azumah and Zack, before other attendees came up to read it and pay their respects.
To read a ‘Guardian’ obituary about Gladys, use the link at the bottom of this article.
Image 1: The commemorative plaque
Image 2: The bean tree dedicated to the memory of Gladys Wudowa