2016 summing up & thanks from Islington Faces

Estimated reading time:5 minutes, 51 seconds

By the end of 2016 there were 222 interviews on Islington Faces so it’s obvious that everyone really does have a story. I’m always asked which is my favourite interview – but that’s impossible, as whoever I’m focussing on is always my fave. All the interviews are free to read, but they do just capture a moment in time. So to celebrate passing the 200th interview ¬†and the third year of this blog here is a look at some of the most popular interviews and a few insights into Islington Faces successes.

Local police patrolling the canal at Angel. (c) islington faces

Local police patrolling the canal at Angel in December 2016. There are no interviews with them in here, but I love the way they didn’t mind me taking a random snap. If you prefer pix to words you can follow on Instagram @islingtonfaces. Thanks to everyone who reads or enjoys (c) islington faces

First a huge thank you to estate agent Charlie Perdios (interviewed July 2016) at Anthony Pepe who opened an office in Highbury, and soon after funded Islington Faces’¬†switch to this lovely web design. And an equally big thank you to his friend, design maestro, Simon, at Oxinternet who built the website (from Cornwall) and then helped me move the interviews over.

The first Islington Faces meet up was held in Finsbury Park at Blighty Cafe. (c) islington faces/feb2016

The first Islington Faces meet up was held in Finsbury Park at Blighty Cafe. There are six interviewees in this photo. (c) islington faces/feb2016

I also got free Instagram and Lightroom sessions from the training team at 3 Discovery based in Islington High Street (see the interview with Jessica and Alan in November 2016 ) Рand you can too!

Some more thanks yous to:

  • I’ve had intern support this year from just one person, Isabel Vandergirt – Wilson. Over a couple of days she¬†took photos, wrote copy, did vox pop interviews in Chapel Market and Camden Passage and all because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. What a star, thank you!
  • Blighty Cafe boss Chris Evans (interviewed March 2013) encouraged me to hold a get-together of readers and interviewees back in February. It was a lovely event and I’m planning to hold another in 2017. Meanwhile Chris has opened another cafe, over in Tottenham at 226 High Road, N15 4AJ. It may not be in Islington, but it is very close to Seven Sisters¬†tube (Victoria line), so definitely one to visit.
  • You – and¬†anyone who has ever suggested a potential interviewee. As there is usually only me working on the Islington Faces blog (and as I also need to do paid work) I tend to progress¬†through my list of suggestions slowly, but many thanks to all the great ideas as it is hugely helpful. The more the better…


All change – in a good way
Everyone interviewed on Islington Faces is special but several have enjoyed amazingly exciting changes this year including:

  1. Buymeonce.com (tagline: because throwing away stuff is rubbish) is now a real shopping website run by¬†inspirational founder Tara Button (interviewed in September 2015) who employs a team of staff and has UK and US hubs. Here’s her latest video message about the concept. I’m so excited for her – and love¬†the idea. It’s how my husband found out about everlasting DM shoes…

2) Good news too for the endlessly community-minded, hardworking Caroline Russell (interviewed November 2013) who¬†became a Regional Assembly member at the May Mayoral elections. What a fantastic change after years of voluntary campaigning around Islington in addition to her road safety work. As a Regional Assembly Member (from the Green group) she now represents Londonwide – and is also the only Green councillor in Islington (representing Highbury East). Here’s more about her on the¬†assembly people pages.

Nell, 12, meets Scooby (a rescue horse who now stars in the circus) and Martin Burton, owner of Zippos Circus.

Here’s Martin Burton, owner of Zippos Circus, with my then 12-year-old daughter, Nell,¬†and¬†Scooby (a rescue horse who starred¬†in the circus at the 2013 show Islington Faces attended in Finsbury Park). Next time the circus is close to Islington be sure to go. @zipposcircus

3) The most popular interview on Islington Faces¬†is with Martin Burton, circus founder (interviewed April 2013) who founded Zippos Circus¬†– starting it on Highbury Fields. His interview¬†has had more than 3,000 views, and no wonder. He started the interview in his waggon, parked by the big top in Finsbury Park opposite the Happening Beigel Bakery, by telling me about a¬†fire-eating accident that kept him in intensive care for a year… The¬†2nd most read interview is the one with Islington royalty – John Walters, Pearly King of Finsbury (interviewed October 2014). This has been read more than 2,000 times! That’s even more than Arsenal legend¬†– Charlie George (who starred on Islington Faces in September 2016) and so far has had 1,797 views. When I posted a note about¬†this on twitter @nicolabairduk there were another 1,000 peeks. BTW a special thanks to Arsenal in the Community’s Samir Singh (interviewed June 2014) for helping me to organise the interview with Charlie.

Islington Faces isn’t a popularity contest though.

Some of the best interviews are with people who don’t use social media, so only the followers and lucky readers get to¬†hear their stories. For tips on who these might be – and some nice photos – please have a look at the new Instagram account @islingtonfaces ¬†Even better follow it! There’s also a Facebook page, although this isn’t exclusively for posts about people who live or work in Islington – it also has some of my other writing ranging from childcare to travel and news about new books.

3) I was thrilled that Islington Faces inspired a story telling tent at Plimsoll Road’s¬†2016 street party in September. Several brave neighbours shared their life story to an audience which was recorded by journalist Katharine Quarmby. She followed this up with a lovely Christmas memories session.¬†You can listen to all these interviews on her website.

4) HERE ARE MY FAVOURITE MEMORIES OF ISLINGTON FACES LIVE… a short film with the highlights from when Islington Faces took to the stage in October 2014 to celebrate the 100th ever interview. The interviewees talk about running King’s Head Theatre, firing rockets, being a Mayor, running a pop up language cafe, and even the joy of discovering old bottles in the garden which were once filled with Sawyer’s lemonade and drunk by our Victorian predecessors. Plus there’s a rare chance to hear¬†Ethiopian songstress Hanisha Solomon perform. With thanks again to Carlos Torres for filming and editing this.

Sadly, three special people featured on Islington Faces have died this year. I was unable to attend any of their funerals, or memorial services, but said my own quiet goodbye. The world seems smaller without:

Angela Sinclair-Loutit (interviewed September 2012)

Colin O’Brien (interviewed September 2015)

John Webber (interviewed in May 2015)

Here’s to 2017
With best wishes and many thanks to all Islington Faces’ readers. May 2017 by happy, safe and filled with opportunities to talk, read and do. Nicola x