A remarkable journey – 25 years

This weekend (20 April 2019) the Hornbeam’s founder members gathered to celebrate the Centre’s 25th birthday milestone. They shared stories with us of this remarkable journey.

The Hornbeam started with a dream in the hearts of two people – Jowanna Lewis and Diane Sizer in 1994. With around 100 volunteers  and much dedication, commitment and endurance the Hornbeam came to life.

The vision then was creating a community hub in Walthamstow, providing food, meeting space facilities, and resources to educate and empower people on sustainable living.

Jowanna Lewis gave an inspiring speech, remembering the hard work and commitment put in by so many volunteers: “Over three and a half years more than 100 people came and worked her giving up days, evenings and weekends of their life. Virtually everyone thought it was amazing. On the opening day I so wanted to stay in bed I was so exhausted – this place is the result of real sweat and tears, but it was worth it!”

Jowanna and others explained how they asked Waltham Forest Council for permission to refurbish the derelict building and they received amazing support for the project throughout from councillors, happy to see a derelict building be put to use.

Anne Redlinghuys, Hornbeam’s Coordinator, said “It is just so awesome to be in your presence. What you’ve accomplished is amazing. When I read through the articles about the beginnings of the Hornbeam and your vision I am so pleased to see that we’re still on the same page. We are still a safe space in the community, we are still and environmental centre running educational projects. You created an amazing community space and should be so proud.”

Despite some very tricky times in the Hornbeam’s 25 years, especially as funding has become harder to access due to austerity, Hornbeam Director, Brian Kelly pointed out that working with Forest Recycling Project, Organiclea and HEET on a ‘low cost living’ project has meant that the Hornbeam has been able to take the lead as a ‘community anchor’ – “our vision is to keep facilitating others to do amazing things, and also to have our own Hornbeam projects going on, like the Food Rescue Project.”

Today 25 years later The Hornbeam Centre also runs the Hornbeam Learning Lodge in Chingford and has the same vision as 25 years ago.

Thanks to everyone that has contributed and is still doing so to make the world a better place. Viva for the next 25 years!

more stories and videos to come….