In Memoriam

Stephen Backes 1953 - 2022


Stephen Backes
Early life
Stephen had a happy childhood in Chigwell where he was the eldest of 3 children. He was always organising other people and was very popular with his peers. He also led the church youth club. Stephen was interested in geology, stamp collecting, fishing and photography. He was also a keen swimmer and competed for his school in this event.   He discovered cars in his late teens and was always working on them, in particular his Alfa Romeo and classic Austin Healey. 
He travelled the world and lived in Israel for some while. Here he volunteered to join a kibbutz and made lifelong friends amongst the other volunteers there. 
He was close to his father and worked with him in his shop in Manor Park for a while. He eventually went into theatre set building and about the same time started buying houses. Stephen moved to Hackney buying his first house in his early twenties and never looked back. He was Chair of Hackney Amnesty International which was successful in its campaigns for the release of political prisoners.
Charity Work
Stephen cared about people and had a sense of responsibility for the problems and injustices of society. He was very active in the local community where he volunteered with a local Amnesty International Group, Organiclea (an organic farm in the Lea Valley) and as a National Trust guide at Sutton House in Hackney.
He served on the Board of Directors for the London Community Credit Union for several years, where he led the strategic development of their property portfolio.
Art Interests
Stephen took a strong interest in art, visiting many exhibitions, galleries, theatres and museums. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Meetup Theatre Group. His favourite painters included Van Gogh and Turner.
He liked quirky exhibitions where visitors could interact with the art and particularly enjoyed the Rain Room at the Barbican back in 2012/13.
His favourite composer was Bach.
He attended the cinema every week with his long term friends where they liked to watch fringe and subtitled films and he enjoyed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall
Stephen was very knowledgeable in all these subjects including philosophy and was also politically active, leaning to the left.
Walking
Back in the day (2001) Stephen joined the Ramblers to protest against Van Hoogstraten's attempt to block a public footpath with razor wire and a pile of discarded refrigerators. Initially he was not intending to walk at all.
However after trying out a few walks he became hooked.  Stephen led various walks for the group before becoming interested in the SWC and their self-led walks. He started walking with the SWC in 2008 
Here he posted walks as Bridie for a number of years where he made many friends who will miss and remember him. He was good company, cheerful, interesting to talk to and full of life. He always delighted in the gourmet lunch venues which could be found on many of their walks. Stephen was a member of a small and self proclaimed 'gourmet dining club' which tasted some of the world's best food from restaurants like The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal,  Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, and the Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill on the Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea.
Memorial Bench Seat
Stephen’s family thought a bench seat would be a fitting memorial and they have applied to have a bench installed in Victoria Park, East London. Two (short) SWC walks pass through this park, so walkers on those walks may visit this memorial, reminisce and take the weight off if they wish.
Further details on this to follow shortly.
You may find more details at https://www.quitenear.me/SB