Community leaders have paid tribute to Bunny Hensby, the founder of the Oxhey Village Environment Group (OVEG), who has passed away.

A memorial ceremony was held at the Bushey and Oxhey Methodist Church yesterday after the 97-year-old died peacefully in her sleep last month.

Former and current leaders of OVEG have spoken of a petit woman who left a large legacy for the village.

Bunny moved to Oxhey from London in 1957 and lived in Grover Road before moving to the River Court care home in Watford during the last years of her life.

She founded OVEG in 1975 after retiring as a lecturer at the London College of Fashion and the group’s first campaign was to have the area’s green named Oxhey Village Green.

Since then OVEG has grown into an influential force in the community which is still going strong today.

As well as her community legacy the mother-of-two has also left a physical mark on the village after the newly-built Hensby Mews was named after her in 2009 in recognition of her work.

Andrew Filer, a former OVEG chairman, said even after she stepped down from the group Bunny still took a keen interest in who was running it.

He said: “When you were made chairman she summoned you to her house to see who you were and if the right person had taken over OVEG.

“She must have been 5ft tall and had a petit build but had a big strength of character.

“She was not big on kudos, she was a little bit embarrassed about having a street named after her, but she was proud of it.”

Current co-chairman of OVEG, 30-year-old Ben Atkins, added: “I think OVEG is her legacy. It has gone on for nearly 40 years and continues to be a strong voice.

“I think you can virtually chalk up every improvement in the village to Bunny as without her it would not be here to do these things.”

Among the issues OVEG has played a major role in over the years were saving Bushey Train Station when it came under threat of closure in 2002 and giving residents a strong voice over new build developments, such as Aldenham Square on the site of the former Tagger's dealership.

One of the speakers who paid tribute to Bunny at yesterday’s service was Watford mayor Dorothy Thornhill.

She said when OVEG approached her about getting a new development named after Bunny they had to persuade the developer that it was honour that was not only reserved for the dead.

Mayor Thornhill said the naming of the mews after Bunny was a fitting tribute to her as it overlooked the green which had been the subject of her first campaign.

She added: “She was very modest about it but I think secretly very pleased.

“It overlooks the green and her first campaign was to allow them to call it Oxhey Village Green.”