A welcome return of his annual garden fete -- together with rides for children around his miniature railway track -- were another sign of life returning to normal at the Wood Street home of retired Barnet family practitioner Dr Ian Johnson.

Opening his garden for a summer fete in aid of the Jubilee Sailing Trust has become quite an institution in the calendar of local events.

After missing out last year because of the Covid.19 pandemic, Dr Johnson was delighted to welcome back nearby residents, friends and many former patients for an autumn get together.

Dr Johnson, a skilled model engineer, has a much-admired collection of model steam engines but for safety reasons uses a miniature battery-powered Planet industrial locomotive for children’s rides on the five-inch gauge track around the perimeter of his garden.

Generations of children have enjoyed a trip on the miniature railway and Leonardo Pini had the first ride of the show (seen here with his father, Stefano Pini, grandmother Rita Pini, train driver David Lawrence and Dr Johnson).

For Mrs Pini it was a chance to share memories with Dr Johnson of the days he helped to care for patients at the former Marie Foster Centre in Wood Street, a 30-bed hospital for people suffering from multiple sclerosis that has been demolished to make way for a new care home.

“My sister Gloria Gattini was a patient there for five years and she was one of Dr Johnson’s patients.

“He did so much to help fund raise for the home. I’m very glad my sister was there. The staff were so happy and cared for the patients so well.

“In those days we did sponsored walks which were organised from Dr Johnson’s home in Wood Street, and they were such popular events.”

Dr Johnson, who used to practice at the Old Court House surgery, said he was so pleased to see his garden come back to life with the annual show after missing out last year and again earlier this summer.

An array of stalls was manned by volunteers including members of Barnet Rotary Club and the North London Society of Model Engineers.

Dr Johnson, who was a well-known locum in Barnet and Finchley, retired from family practice twenty years ago and has been watching with great interest, and some concern, as the health authorities have dealt with the Covid.19 pandemic.

“With hindsight, I think the government should have locked down much earlier, just one illustration I think as to how some of the pandemic response has been mis-managed.

“When we had the Asian flu epidemic in the late 1960s, when there were 80,000 deaths, we took it in our stride. People just put up with it, but now we have vaccination for Covid which has transformed the level of care that can be offered.”