Islington civic awards 2020: Islington’s inspirations to receive much-deserved recognition at annual ceremony
PUBLISHED: 12:44 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:40 13 March 2020
Eight inspirational people who do good deeds in the community will be honoured in tonight’s civic awards at the assembly hall in Upper Street.
The annual event is an opportunity for the borough to celebrate outstanding community contributions from those whose vital work often goes unseen.
In addition to the mayor, this year's crop of community heroes was chosen by Deputy Lieutenant Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes and Gazette editor Andre Langlois.
A life-long peace campaigner who made beautiful banners will receive a posthumous award for her immeasurable contribution to the community tonight.
Alice, of Alexander Road in Upper Holloway, was a retired teacher and dedicated social justice campaigner who died of cancer on Monday, February 17, aged 68. Shirley Franklin, of Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC), and Cllr Gary Heather nominated Alice for the award, which she was happy to hear she was getting before she died.
Alice campaigned for a better state education system and played a key role in the campaign to save the Whittington Hospital's A&E department. She was an active member of Stop the War Coalition and crafted stunning banners for nationwide campaigns. Paying tribute to Alice last month, her friend Jeremy Corbyn said: 'We lost a wonderful local figure and character, someone who inspired us all.'
Alice also participated in every Grenfell Silent Walk honouring the 72 people who died in the blaze, and she made costumes for Notting Hill Carnival.
Eula, 81, has what she laughingly calls 'a bad habit' of helping people.
A retired caterer at Whittington Hospital, Eula brings her West Indian cooking skills to community events, once making fried dumplings and plantain for the children at Martin Luther King Adventure Playground.
For many years she has helped out with children's teas and aerobics activities at her church.
Eula is a cherished member of Friends of Paradise Park, where she heard of her Civic Award.
'I couldn't believe it,' she told the Gazette. 'I could think of many other people besides me - but it's a nice surprise.'
Reverend Jonathan Rust, former vicar of St David's Church, sung her praises, saying she is one of those people who does things for others 'without ever wanting something back'.
A passion for social and environmental justice is laced through the work of Helen, a retired community worker.
Last summer, Helen helped to found an ongoing project for disadvantaged nine to 11-year-olds in St Peter's Ward.
She said: 'People think Islington is rich, so it's vital that those who need support don't get overlooked.'
Helen is a regular custody visitor at Tolpuddle Street police station, where she checks on the welfare of detainees.
Her ability to forge community relations is beautifully illustrated by the creation of a gardening plot in Union Square.
Some said it was doomed to fail, but she rallied park-goers - the elderly who sat with their dogs, the teenagers who socialised there - and found all were happy to protect the plot once it was explained to them.
Helen finds time for bell-ringing across London, and for over 20 years has kept a record of all the different plants and flowers growing on St Peter's Streets.
She looks for projects that interest her and hopes in turn to interest others.
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'I'm ever hopeful,' she said.
Jean and Richard Bull
A married couple who have fostered a sense of community within Barnsbury Housing Association (BHA) over the past four decades will be honoured tonight.
Richard Bull has worked as a caretaker for the housing association since 1977, while Jean worked as BHA's finance manager for 38 years before her recent retirement.
BHA's project manager Dean McGlynn nominated the duo for civic awards and invited readers to an Islington Town Hall ceremony at 6pm on March 26, which will mark Richard's retirement.
Richard, 73, told the Gazette: 'It has been over half my life, this is my 43 year of working there so it means a lot to me. I have quite enjoyed it.
Jean, 70, added: 'I like the community side to it, like arranging the summer fair.
'But it just all went so fast, 38 years is long time but it doesn't seem like it.'
The chair of Friends of Caledonian Park has been lauded as a 'beacon in the community' - but says her civic award belongs to all her fellow volunteers.
Miriam is always helping out in her beloved park and regularly volunteers at the recently renovated Clock Tower when she isn't gardening or organising events,
Miriam also chairs a small group of volunteers that looks after Market Road Gardens and is on the board of Haywards Adventure Playground.
Reflecting on her work in the community, Miriam said: 'It's really important to me. Four of five years ago I was quite ill and found I was getting housebound, effectively, and I was exhausted all the time and felt really useless. A neighbour put me on to the park friends group and I started volunteering.
'I think it has really improved my mental and physical health to be out there gardening and looking after the park, and in return it's looking after me.'
She added: 'It's very much a group effort, something we do together and get stronger at together.'
A man who has volunteered on the Andover Estate in Finsbury Park for the past 20 years says he wants to change people's negative perceptions of the area
Robert, 66, helps run projects at Finsbury Park Community Hub and Andover Community Centre, including the weekly free meal and health and welfare events.
Robert also plays a crucial role in organising the annual Soul in the City festival which takes part on the estate and provides entertainment to some 2,000 neighbours.
On the festival, Robert said: 'We're trying to get people to say: 'Look, there isn't a border down Durham Road.' Sometimes people won't cross over the road to go through the estate, so this one day.'
He added: 'We are trying to get it that there is no hate in the community, we want it to be friendly. We are not the poor relation of the householder, we are good people as well.'
The chair of Elthorne Pride will get an accolade for her tireless efforts to improve life in the area.
Sandi, who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years, helps organise activities to foster a sense of community and pride in the area. These include weekly arts and crafts sessions for over 55's, bingo games and kids' clubs throughout school holidays.
Sandi organises an annual summer barbecue and International Big Lunch with volunteers, where neighbours are encouraged to share dishes from their cultures. She said: 'I care about people, I know it sounds cliché but I honestly do. I care a lot of those who don't have a voice and feel as though they don't have a voice. I do a lot of work in helping people when they have problems with Universal Credit and housing.'
Elthorne Pride represents people living in Bowman Court, Elthorne Estate, Fairbridge Estate, Grovesdale Estate and the surrounding streets.