Jimmy Mizen: A boy who sparkled

Jimmy Mizen was a 16-year-old school boy from Lewisham, south east London. Who lost his life in an unprovoked attack in a bakery in Lee.

Jimmy was an unusually good baby, and grew quickly into a lovely little boy. He was always smiling. He had a beautiful smile. There was an innocence and a boldness about him, and an uncomplicated love of life.

Nothing ever really got Jimmy down. I don’t remember him ever being upset about anything and I don’t remember ever telling him off. All my children were calm and laid back, but Barry and I would often say, ‘there’s something different about Jimmy’. I think it was his happy, carefree nature. Not worrying about things and wanting to join in with everything that was going on.

I never remember Jimmy being grumpy, the only tantrum I can ever remember him having was when he was about two years old, on a family holiday to Dymchurch. We’d gone to a little funfair and it was time to leave and Jimmy was jumping up and down screaming: “I don’t wanna go!” We’ve got a bit of camcorder footage of that. Jimmy used to cringe when we showed it.

If anything needed to be done at home, he would do it, from a young age. He was very good at mending and painting things. He’d fix a broken chair for me and revarnish it, or go round to our elderly next-door neighbor, Kathleen, and cut her grass for her and have a chat, and she’d always offer him money, and he’d always refuse it.

Jimmy Mizen

Jimmy had done a work experience placement the year before he died for a property maintenance company in Southwark, Leathermarket JMB. It involved him going out each day with a fitter, repairing doors and bathrooms and so on. By all accounts this man was pretty sullen and resentful at having a ‘kid’ foisted on him, as he saw it, but by the end of the fortnight, Jimmy had bowled him over, and they were the best of friends. After this work experience, Leathermarket JMB decided to create an apprenticeship for him. This was the job he would have gone to after his GCSE’s. To think that our son made such an impact in just two weeks, in what is quite a tough, hard-working environment, has made us very, very proud.

“After Jimmy died, when the house went quiet, we would be round my kitchen table and we would be sitting laughing about Jimmy. In those early days, we would be laughing as well as crying, trying to make sense of it, but we had a lot of laughter remembering and talking about Jimmy. I meet a lot of families who have lost loved ones to murder, who are riven with anger. But it’s so destructive to the family. People blame each other and argue – but anger is so damaging. The pain it causes on top of the pain of losing a child can destroy families.”

The day Jimmy died I promised him two things: one, I would keep his name alive and two, I would dedicate my life to working for peace.

Margaret Mizen MBE.

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