Jimmy Mizen was a 16-year-old school boy from south east London who lost his life in an unprovoked attack in a bakery.
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.
If anything needed to be done at home, Jimmy would do it, from a young age. He was very good at mending things and painting things. He’d fix a broken chair for me and revarnish it, or go round to our elderly next-door neighbour, Kathleen, and cut her grass for her and have a chat, and she’d always offer him money, and he’d always refuse it.
He could talk to anybody. As he got older, he could talk to children; he’d be so kind to them. We have a friend of the family who took many, many years to have a baby, and Jimmy must have been about six or seven when their son was born. Jimmy used to go round there and play with him. He’d play with William all the time, because he knew how to be with young children. But he knew how to be with adults as well. He had great confidence in social situations.
Jimmy had done a work experience placement the year before he died for a property maintenance company in Southwark. 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, the company 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 driven 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.