Tamara Powell JP proves this is a marathon not a sprint


15 years ago Tamara Powell, a young Editorial Production Assistant with the Evening Standard was delighted to have been chosen to be part of the OBV’s ground breaking Magistrates Shadowing Scheme. Her dream of making her family proud to be part of the system that would see a Black woman dispensing justice was becoming ever close.

But her bosses at the Evening Standard were having none of it. “We can’t give you time off to learn about becoming a Magistrate”, she was abruptly told. “But it’s only 6-8 days over a 6 month period “Tamara pleaded, but they wouldn’t budge. At that juncture many would have thrown in the towel; the system just doesn’t want people like me, and I can’t fight this monstrous system. But not Tamara! She sacrificed her annual leave so that she could take part in the scheme to the astonishment of her bosses.

Having completed the Scheme and graduated at the House of Commons with the guest speaker American Civil Rights activist Al Sharpton, Tamara was ready to put her application in. But another even bigger obstacle prevented her from fulfilling her dream. Life; domestic, and more work challenges forced her to put this civil project on the back burner.

But as Tamara got on with her life, she kept in touch with her Magistrate mentor ... who had always promised to help her when the time was right. And he kept his promise.

As a result, and to my utter surprise, I got an email from Tamara, stating:

“Dear Simon and Merlene, I just wanted to let you know that thanks to you and everyone at OBV and my mentor, Dr Patrick Davis JP, next week I will be sworn in as one of Her Majesty’s Justices’ of the Peace; a Magistrate.”

I could have cried. When reminded, I was taken back to those years when this young woman was held back by her company, but refused to give in. And now Tamara Powell JP will sit on Her Majesty’s Benches dispensing justice to whoever comes into her court-room.

Tamara now joins a special group of OBV alumni Magistrates who over the years have collectively given more than 1000 years of public service to the local Magistrates’ Courts.

But in the long road to ensure our institutions are inclusive and representative, Tamara proves that this is a marathon not a sprint. To the OBV family Tamara has proven she is a SupaSista.


Simon Woolley


A call to action...

For 24 years OBV have fought to ensure black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.