In 1984 Babs and husband moved from London to Broadstone and whilst attending a wedding in 1984 they were burgled. In 1986 they were burgled again, and it appeared that from the time that the burglary took place Babs, and her husband were being watched. A knife was found on the floor of the lounge and a pair of her husband’s shoes were taken. Her husband’s health was severely affected by this, and Babs felt that she needed to retaliate against the offender.
The Community Beat Officer at the time deflected this feeling into organising a watch group in 1986 and the initial set-up meeting resulted in three groups being formed. Over the years Broadstone Neighbourhood Watch grew and now covers over half of the dwellings in Broadstone, with some 2,800 members.
Babs Benstead was a member of Broadstone Neighbourhood Watch for 18 years and took over as the secretary in 1994 dealing with the paperwork, news bulletins etc.
Every month Babs produced a bulletin delivered to all 2,800 members of the Watch, (one of the Co-ordinators has taken this over). She conducted a public surgery every month, making sure that a Neighbourhood Watch member and PC Wyer were on hand to give advice and answer questions from residents. She also kept written and computer records of all contacts and co-ordinators and endeavours to oversee a smooth transition when contacts or co-ordinators are lost.
Babs was always on call to residents as a source of information or direction on who to contact in a variety of scenarios. She then provided regular updates of relevant community information to the police.
She was especially keen to warn elderly residents of the dangers of answering the door to strangers and regularly reminds the members of Broadstone Neighbourhood Watch in the monthly newsletter.
It was announced on the BBC Working Lunch programme on 15.9.04. that over the last ten years incidents of bogus callers succeeding in conning people has been reduced quite significantly, thanks to people being made aware of the dangers.
Babs worked tirelessly to promote Broadstone Neighbourhood Watch and continually worked to publicise this and encourage membership. It brought many people into her life, and she felt that she was contributing towards the safety and peacefulness of Broadstone Neighbourhood Watch.
In 2004 Babs was joint runner-up in the John Jay Shield Award and in 2005 was awarded the Gold Award for her dedicated work to the Watch over the years.