New Highgate Society chair on how Covid has boosted love for the area

William Britain, the new chair of the Highgate Society

William Britain, the new chair of the Highgate Society - Credit: William Britain

The Highgate Society has a new chair, with William Britain taking over the top job from Elspeth Clements. 

William, who has served as the society's treasurer for a number of years, was elected at the society's AGM in May.

Elspeth chose to step down after three years in the role and will now be a vice-president. 

William told this newspaper he feels Covid-19 has highlighted how important neighbourhoods are.

He said: "Our connection to where we live and work has become so important. I think people have realised the importance of their local areas over the last year, because they've been spending more time at home.

"And maybe they're popping out for lunch in a way they wouldn't have done – they are more involved in the community."

He said the Highgate Society's aim has always been to make the most of the place where we live and work, and that this is vital in 2021.

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In his acceptance speech after the election, he spoke of how Highgate is a quintessential "15-minute neighbourhood" – where most needs can be fulfilled in the local area – particularly given the way Covid-19 changed working habits.

He said he feels it is an exciting time be taking over the voluntary role, as life slowly gets back to some kind of normality.

William, who has lived in the village since 1987, said he is keen to ensure the society remained at the heart of local life. He said he feels it has done a good job "keeping going" during the Covid-19 crisis. 

He said he is looking forward to being able to re-open the refurbished 10A South Grove base of the society – and to getting the community to visit it. 

"Highgate is a fabulous place and I'm so aware of how privileged we are," he said.

"I'm excited to get the hall back and getting people connecting again and playing our part! We are not just an amenity society, but a social hub."

Throughout the pandemic the Highgate Society has continued with many events, including weekly Zoom discussions on Mondays and virtual coffee mornings. 

William said getting in-person events back up and running, and returning 10A South Grove to its position as a community hub are among his priorities, as soon as Covid-19 rules allow.