MY PRIMROSE HILL: Sharon Ridsdale speaks of her strong community and a life-changing book

Sharon Ridsdale volunteer coordinator at Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Sharon Ridsdale volunteer coordinator at Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Volunteer coordinator at Primrose Hill Community Library speaks of her love of the area and the changes it’s gone through since moving there in 1989.

What brought you to Primrose Hill?

I used to take my children to the fireworks show here and loved the area, but it was mainly because it was close to my work at the Royal Free Hospital. When I heard a local authority flat had become available, we moved in straight away.

When you look back at what Primrose Hill was like when you first moved to the area in 1989, how has it changed?

Well for one thing, the transport is much better! We get more buses to and from the area and links within the community seem to be stronger too. The number and diversity of events at local churches, the community centre and the community library has grown massively. It’s not all been good, though. I’ve become quite concerned about independent businesses and shops in the area. So many have closed their doors that I worry about the kind of high street we’re promoting.

If you were guest editor of the Ham & High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?

Well, for one thing there’s a lack of affordable housing here. If you just have expensive houses it curtails the social and ethnic mix of people in the area and it leaves you with a weakened community. I don’t think most people want areas of London like Primrose Hill being excluded from certain types of people.

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Who is the most inspiring person you’ve ever met?

My neighbour and close friend has been an inspiration. She was forced to move here from Iraq after her disabled daughter couldn’t get the treatment she needed. The way she has reacted to problems life has thrown at her has been astounding.

What’s the most life-changing book you’ve ever read?

As a librarian there are obviously so many books I could list. But Felix Holt: The Radical, by George Eliot, changed my world view. I came from a family of Conservatives, but that book turned me into a life-long socialist. Everyone should read it.

Which other place in the world would you twin with Primrose Hill?

It’s strange. I’ve travelled widely so you’d think I could think of somewhere, but I can’t. What can I say – Primrose Hill is unique and I love it.

What makes you smile when you walk home?

A sense of belonging. Neighbours will always come out and greet each other and the community feeling here is still so strong. That alone puts a smile on my face. My library work is also important as it gives me a great deal of pleasure.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

“I jumped in with a smile”.

Sharon Ridsdale was in conversation with Paul Wright