In this occasional feature we meet Ken Rowland, local campaigner, volunteer and keen music lover.
Initially I moved to London from the North East with Midland Bank in the early 80s, settling in Barnet a decade later. The idea was that the ‘provinces’ provided summer holiday cover to key flagship branches – a practice that would be unheard of today.
The arrangement was only for six months and then I’d return home to continue my career. But the lure of London proved so strong that I made the transfer permanent and I moved lock, stock and barrel ‘down south’ and soon after met my wife Mary.
After living in various bedsits and flats in North London (south of the water was never an option) it wasn’t until moving to High Barnet that we really felt at home. The reasons were as true then as they are today: access to London, good schools, great transport links and all while living five minutes walk from some stunning countryside. It proved to be an excellent area to bring up our three wonderful children.
Early memories of the area include being a coach for three seasons of a girls’ youth team for the famous Whetstone Wanderers and I’m pleased to say that many of the players are still friends to this day.
Having ‘retired’ in 2012 I thought life would get simpler but I think I’m busier than ever. I set up a small independent vinyl record business called Slim’s Records, appearing at local events in my red 1969 VW Campervan.
I am also involved in a number of local community projects including driving the mini bus each week for Barnet Old People’s Welfare. This admirable local charity based at the Fern Room in Salisbury Road provides an opportunity for elderly residents to meet and socialize.
However, nowhere is perfect. I am a keen local activist who tries to help the community in anyway I can. Unfortunately High Barnet is not blessed with good Internet, which is why I created a local pressure group ‘Fibre 4 Barnet’ to try to help improve broadband provision for the broader community.
I also work with local groups Love Barnet and the Chipping Barnet Town Team in order to make a difference to the area. The real and present threat to jobs and businesses from the planned redevelopment at Brake Shear House is a great example that could have a damaging and lasting effect on the local economy.
Following the loss of several hostelries, thankfully my favourite is not only still trading but also thriving and few things beat chatting to friends over a pint in the Sebright Arms. The current licensees Trevor and Martina have not only transformed the fortunes of the pub (which Fergus McMullen calls ‘the old lady’), but have also made it a true ‘local’ supporting good causes and individuals experiencing a tough time. I hope it will be trading for another 137 years! I’m also a keen follower of local blues band, Hokum (check their Facebook page for upcoming gigs). We also often pop down to the Jazz Café in Camden (just 25 minutes on the tube) which attracts a real variety of artists and bands because of its intimate scale.
Favourite shops include a couple of preloved/secondhand specialists in East Finchley: Black Gull Books (superb range and especially strong on music) and Alan’s Records (an amazing independent shop with fair prices run by the affable Alan – not competition as I sell new vinyl). We are also ‘friends’ (members) of the Royal Academy and visit regularly, most recently for the extraordinary Ai Wei Wei exhibition.
You will often see me walking my dog Ash on Hadley Common – a daily pleasure that I would miss terribly if we ever had to move: thankfully that’s not on the immediate horizon. So if you see me and want help with something or just fancy a chat don’t be shy and please say hello.
Earlier this year we had a great trip to New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Travel really does broaden the mind, but there’s nothing quite like coming home.
For more info on the campaign including details of a public meeting on 12 November please email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit Fibre 4 Barnet on Facebook or phone 07900 695650.