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My Leigh on Sea - Russell Hallmark, Chair of Friends of Leigh Library Gardens
When the Friends of Leigh Library Gardens (FOLLG) was constituted as a small charity in 2019, I was nominated and voted in to take on the role as Chairperson for the charity - a role I enjoy, which is made easy due to the support I have within the group!
Tell us the story of how you started your small charity
Back in 2018, FOLLG was initially the idea of Valerie Morgan, working with Leigh Town Council, to form a group of volunteers to tend to and improve Leigh Library Gardens. As Valerie encouraged more volunteers to join, it quickly became apparent that in order to progress the group and community ambitions for the Gardens, that we would need to obtain external funding - which resulted in FOLLG becoming a small charity
What’s something people don’t really know about you and your small charity?
The FOLLG committed in excess of 500 voluntary hours to the Gardens during 2019.
What’s the best thing about working in Leigh-on-Sea?
The interest from and the interaction with members of the community - which is a fantastic motivation to the group.
What’s the one bit of advice you wish you knew when you started out?
Having spent many years of my working life in the private sector, I have been use to ’speed to market’ solutions. Due to the many stakeholders involved with Leigh Library Gardens, I have had to learn to slow down and take on board everyone's views and opinions so we can carry everyone with us in an inclusive and holistic way to get the best outcomes.
Have you got a standout small charity moment that you’re proud of?
The one that springs to mind is when we held the Community Consultation in December 2019. I was overwhelmed by the attendance, engagement, feedback and support with regards to the plans for Leigh Library Gardens from our local community - which has also resulted in new volunteers joining the group and will hopefully assist with FOLLG gaining support from local businesses with donations or funding.
Tell us about your 3 favourite places in Leigh
The first has to be Leigh Library Gardens - which is a lovely place now, but we want it to become a place that our Community and visitors to the area are all really proud of. Next would be taking a walk through and meeting friends/socialising in Leigh Old Town, and finally taking walks over at Two Tree Island - a fantastic example of nature and conservation.
Where do you like to go with your family?
We often take a walk from Leigh to Rossi’s in Westcliff either together or all meet up there - I find walking along the coast, in any weather, is so relaxing.
What’s your favourite thing about where you live?
Being so accessible to everything - City, town, coast and the countryside.
What’s a must-do for those visiting Leigh-on-Sea?
Instead of just visiting the Old Town, first spend some time visiting the shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in the Broadway and Leigh Road, take some relaxation in Leigh Library Gardens (a must), then go down to the Old town and enjoy a sunset whilst socialising!
Where can we follow you?
firstname.lastname@example.org and Friend of Leigh Library Gardens on Facebook.