My Hampstead: Community activist Janine Griffis on lampposts, air pollution and her NW3 adventure

09:00 20 July 2014

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum stand, Janine Griffis (left) and Carissa Bub.

Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum stand, Janine Griffis (left) and Carissa Bub.


Janine Griffis, 57, is the chairman of the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, a new community group set up to help shape the future of Hampstead. She lives in Denning Road and also chairs the Pilgrim’s to Willoughby Residents Association.

What brought you to Hampstead? We were young, living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and my husband’s law firm opened a London office. We leapt at the chance to come for a three-year stint. The plan was that I would take a break from work, we would start a family and then we would return to the States having had our adventure. That was in 1986. The family has grown up and we are still having our adventure.

What makes it such a special place? I love that it takes me 15 minutes to walk the five minutes up the High Street, stopping to say hello to people I know.

How has it changed since you arrived? There has definitely been a “smartening-up” of the village in general. One thing I don’t miss is the old 1960s lampposts. The first campaign I became involved with locally was working with the traditional lighting champion David Christie and other residents in re-instating traditional lampposts in the neighbourhood. They have improved the streetscape enormously.

What is the area’s best-kept secret? Is Artichoke a secret anymore? We have shopped at this greengrocers in Heath Street for years but Deana has transformed her father’s shop into a veritable temple of fruit and veg.

You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to? I would visit 2 Willow Road, the National Trust property. It is always those things around the corner that we take for granted.

As guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported? I would be interested to know how traffic congestion in the village and South End Green is affecting our air quality.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met? Margot Fonteyn. I met her toward the end of her career on what must have been a ghastly Midwestern tour. She was the most gracious and elegant person I have ever met.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say? Great life, good fertiliser.

Janine Griffis was in conversation with Tom Marshall


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