Trustees Lynne Brackley and Jackie Sablich share a summary of the Hornsey Vale Community Association’s most recent annual general meeting, held on 16 November 2022.
Do you remember objections to the water feature in Stationers Park when it was built ‘because of the mosquitoes’? What about the fire in the old school buildings on the site where Abyssinia Court is now? Or the fireworks in the park that attracted over a thousand punters?
Attendees at the Hornsey Vale Community Centre’s recent AGM enjoyed many such reminiscences, welcoming as its special guest Linda Lennard, who talked about the early days of the community centre with great warmth.
Thirty years ago, Linda and her husband, Mike George—who sadly died earlier this year—took on the challenge of claiming part of the neglected building for a community-led facility that would be inclusive and open to all. They bid for the grant that led to the major refurbishment in 1999 and managed the antics of the corner-cutting constructors throughout. The latter couldn’t believe that a bunch of volunteers could be so competent and tenacious, espousing the mantra, ‘we learn as we go’. Proof of success still stands at 60 Mayfield Road, and the AGM paid tribute to those early champions, Mike and Linda, who even lived right opposite the front door for many years and were called on countless times to open up a locked door or sort out the fire alarm.
Trustees at the event chimed in with memories of how being a volunteer at times also involved getting wet. From wading on the roof, ankle deep in water, to unplug a drain one Halloween, to cleaning up after a leak ruined a newly laid floor.
Today, the centre is a popular space for a diverse range of local activities, from fitness and sport, to therapy and community-supporting events. We have several regular hirers who continue to enjoy use of the centre, and have welcomed some new community partners and hirers, including A Sprinkling of Magic, Mums in Mainstream, and Loopey, an exchange scheme for children’s clothing.
Says Linda, “It really is a lot of work, but honestly … we are so pleased at the whole range of activities, the way the association is described in a very inclusive way. It comes across as very vibrant, and it is very pleasing – because it is working, honestly. I do hope it continues to be.”
The current trustees agreed to continue to serve, supported by administrator Emma Watson and a team of keyholders and other occasional volunteers. On the agenda for the coming year are the Green Christmas Fair advocating for a more sustainable winter festival, acoustic improvement in the hall (yes, honestly!), the expansion of the Lunch Club and relationship with Hornsey Food Bank, the completion of our archive and oral history project, and, hopefully, the recruitment of more volunteers.
Hornsey Vale Community Centre has been successfully managed and run by volunteers for 30 years. We warmly welcome people who want to help or get involved. Whether you have a particular skill to offer, just want to meet new people, or you are keen to put something back into your community, we’d love to hear from you. Learn more about volunteering here, and click here to read a Guardian writeup about the amazing Mike George.