Ginny Greenwood MBE: West Hampstead charity worker turned health entrepreneur talks pilates, dance and working with Boris Johnson

Ginny Greenwood MBE delivers pilates and dance classes for her business Exercise with Me. Picture: G

Ginny Greenwood MBE delivers pilates and dance classes for her business Exercise with Me. Picture: Ginny Greenwood MBE - Credit: Archant

A West Hampstead charity worker has helped raise more than £17 million for good causes and worked with Boris Johnson - now she’s turned to pilates.

Ginny Greenwood MBE, recently appointed in the New Year's Honours List, spent her career fundraising across the arts, theatre and education, yet these days she's delivering health and fitness classes for the elderly.

After she travelled South America and South East Asia in 2016, the mother of three and grandmother of five set up Exercise with Me which provides individual and group classes to boost older people's health and also help them recover from injury.

Ginny, 62, who lives in West Hampstead having moved to north London in 1979, said: "The people who come to my classes will typically have joint and back problems and weakening muscles because as we get older it's inevitable our body will progressively decline.

"Particularly with older people they can feel isolated, so getting out there and exercising, going to a class, joining a dance, walking or swimming group, meeting people and socialising, it's all good for one's health.

"There's physical, mental and social fitness, putting those three things together is what my classes look at."

Before entering the world of health, Ginny's fundraising work - which she calls "part of her DNA" - included kickstarting the Hampstead and Highgate Festival, delivering the Institution of Civil Engineers' 200th anniversary, and steering The Mayor of London's Fund for Young Musicians.

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There have been hurdles to overcome, however. Ginny's ex-husband was imprisoned for company fraud in 1995, which she says changed everything, leaving her to bring up their three children on her own.

There was trying to ensure Boris Johnson kept an eye on the time, too, The then mayor and now prime minister was a patron for the London Music Fund while Ginny was chief executive, a role which he performed well, she says.

"He was obviously extremely busy," Ginny said, "but our desks were on the same floor as his so I had a decent amount of interaction.

"In terms of our events that would be three times a year (he would attend). He's very intelligent and charismatic but not great at timekeeping.

"That was sometimes an issue, reminding him that he needed to be there to make a speech at whatever time!"

Now, five years on, having been made an MBE, Ginny reflects on her standout achievement with pride.

She said: "I opened the letter from the cabinet office and I just couldn't stop grinning. I was talking to myself, saying 'I don't believe it, this is amazing' and my grin was getting wider and wider.

"It's about six or seven weeks before you can tell anyone so keeping that secret was quite hard.

"I kept looking at the letter to make sure it was real. I was really honoured and just very chuffed. It's a lovely, lovely thing to receive.

"I haven't yet found out when I go to Buckingham Palace, but I'm hoping I can invite three people. Otherwise one of my kids is going to hold it against me forever!"

For more information about Ginny's health and fitness business, visit her website here.