Aztec superhero wins Mayor’s Community Award

By Pat Lidiker

MICHELLE Buchan’s heroic exploits in the car park at Aztec House may sound like the screenplay for a superhero film… though perhaps a bit too far-fetched.

It was certainly the last thing anyone living in this Chigwell Jewish Blind and Disabled building expected, but in March her actions earned Michelle the prestigious Mayor’s Community Award.

The awards celebrate outstanding achievements by local people and were presented by the Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Jyotsna Islam, at the Council Chambers.

After receiving hundreds of nominations, the winners of the Mayor’s Community Awards were selected by an independent panel of judges, consisting of councillors, council officers and people from the local community.

Michelle told the Essex Jewish News she was inspired by her win and the unexpected standing ovation which followed.

Now 58, and engaged to fellow tenant Jason Schwartz, she remembers the events all-too clearly and says her reactions were purely instinctive rather than brave.

She said: “I was in the car park and heard screaming which I quickly realised was coming from a lady who had got out of her Motability car with the engine still running and gears set into reverse.

“It was moving in circles then went through the gates onto the pavement of main road. It was around 4pm and all I could think about was children coming out of the nearby school and being run over and killed.”

Despite her own debilitating spinal issues, Michelle managed to reach the car’s driver’s side and turn the steering wheel before the door slammed into her and knocked her over.

Some horrified onlookers may have seen her instinctive actions as foolhardy but she says there was no time to think, only of others being killed. In fact, Michelle was the only one injured and was taken to King George’s A&E where it was found the accident had damaged her back still further, leaving her in constant pain ever since.

The award has done much to lift her spirits though, as are plans for her wedding to Jason this summer in Aztec House.

She said: “My parents moved here 14 years ago and I became their full-time carer. Then, after my father passed away in 2021, I moved into my own flat here. My mother has dementia and is now in Jewish Care’s Vi & John Rubens House, but this is very much my home.”

As she recovers, the one thing Michelle isn’t planning for the future is stopping another runaway car… she can leave that to the fictional superheroes!

Abigial (first left) and Michelle (third left) with the Mayor and other heroes who were honoured
Abigial (first left) and Michelle (third left) with the Mayor and other heroes. Picture courtesy of the Ilford Recorder / Sandra Rowse



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *