Local Heroes

Tracy Cooper

Tracy Cooper

Chief Executive of artsdepot

artsdepot opened in 2004 and has been going from strength to strength ever since. Last year 154,000 people stepped through its doors, attending over 527 events. Tracy took up the post of Chief Executive at artsdepot in 2006 after gaining a huge amount of experience in charity and events during time at the Royal Albert Hall and Marie Curie Cancer Care, among others. Tracy is deeply passionate about maintaining artsdepot’s presence and mission in North Finchley and wider London, returning early from maternity leave in 2010 to steer the venue’s fortunes after it lost all London Borough of Barnet funding. It broke even in five months.

artsdepot continues to be a major asset, providing opportunities to experience and participate in the Arts to people of all ages, from the 11,477 children & young people, to the 244 hot lunches served to socially isolated older people this past year. artsdepot received a grant of £300K from Arts Council England in 2016-17, but paid £303K back to the public purse in taxes during the same period. With artsdepot’s impact on the local estimated at around £3.23 million, it’s money well spent

Tracy Cooper

Rosie Canning and Lindsay Barnfield

Organisers - Finchley Literary Festival

Rosie and Lindsay founded the Greenacre Writers group in 2009. The group’s activities spurred them into producing their first literary festival with Greenacre Writers' Mini Lit Fest taking place in 2012. Owing to its success that they repeated it with added events in 2013. Seeing that there was a need and wider interest within the local community, they re-named the event ‘Finchley Literary Festival’ in 2014 and expanded it to include various workshops, readings, talks, walks and a Spoken Word event in several venues around the Finchley area. Perhaps the highlight for many participants at the last event was the popular Music and Performance Poetry Palooza!

Rosie continues to organise Greenacre Writers but Lindsay has stepped down although she continues to collaborate on a number of projects. Greenacre Writers has a strong online blog presence and has expanded into three writing groups: Finish That Novel group, a Writers' Workshop group and a Novel Focus group providing support for dedicated writers at every stage of their work.

Tracy Cooper

David Lardi

Director - Finchley Chamber Choir, Finchley Symphony Orchestra

David may have retired as conductor of the North London Symphony Orchestra (NLSO) in December 2015 after 40 years of service, but he continues to bring his enthusiasm and experience to bear with the Finchley Chamber Choir and Finchley Symphony Orchestra. David started with the NLSO aged 24, when they were struggling on many levels, and took them from being unable to get through a whole piece together to "performing large scale repertoires that they couldn’t have dreamt of before."

During the course of his career, David has conducted on ITV, recorded for the BBC, LWT and London Radio. He has also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3, where he has been interviewed by Petroc Trelawney. Thanks to David, the Finchley Chamber Choir and the Symphony Orchestra continue to put on captivating evenings at the Trinity Church in North Finchley, usually every couple of months.

Tracy Cooper

David Smith

Chairman - Finchley Society

The Finchley Society exists to preserve and improve the buildings, open spaces and transport around Finchley and Friern Barnet, while seeking to explore and protect the history and special features of the area. It’s a completely independent organisation, existing on donations alone but buoyed by solid support from the local Mayor, Councillors, MPs and many big names from the arts and entertainment world. David has had the honour of being a member of the society since its founding in 1971, and became Chairman in 2007.

The society was initially formed by the famous entertainer Spike Milligan, who lived in Finchley for 19 years and was dismayed at how many of the town’s characterful buildings were falling into dereliction. He became the society’s first President and helped enlist Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman as the first patron. David oversaw the unveiling in 2014 of the Spike Milligan statue in the gardens of the stunning Stephen’s House, where the Finchley Society meets eight times a year.

Tracy Cooper

Councillor Daniel Thomas BA (Hons)

Finchley Church End (Deputy Leader)

Daniel Thomas is one of the three Conservative Councillors for Finchley Church End Ward, serving now for nearly eleven years since being first elected in May 2006. He’s deeply involved with many matters at Barnet Council and sits on the committees for Assets, Regeneration and Growth, General Functions, Housing, Policy & Resources, Urgency and Local Strategic Partnership (and others where he sits as a substitute).

Always working hard for the ward, Daniel has only missed one Council meeting in the last year, and regularly hosts surgeries on rotation with fellow councillors Eva Greenspan and Graham Old on the first Wednesday of each month at Stephens House, East End Road, at 7.00pm. Most residents contact Daniel via email, asking for help with planning issues, potholes, street improvements and much more. Daniel was instrumental in securing a new local library on Regents Park Road and the council financially supporting improvements at Stephens House. Outside of his work for Barnet Council, Daniel also works with the Finchley Charities as a Trustee.

Tracy Cooper

Malcolm Godfrey

General Manager - Stephens House & Garden

Malcolm came to Stephens House and Garden in August 2012, having established a great reputation for working with historic venues to maximise their profile and returns. Starting his work with heritage venues just before the turn of the millennium, Malcolm has a wealth of experience in coordinating their use for TV and film productions, as well as enabling them to host exhibitions, events and corporate hospitality days.

A former Naval officer with 28 years of military service, Malcolm is also a keen amateur historian and has enjoyed researching the past of all the buildings he has had the pleasure of being involved with. He has also presented on TV and radio about various historical subjects. Stephen’s House is of course home to the well-known statue of Spike Milligan, posed on a bench as if about to engage in conversation, unveiled in 2014. The statue was erected at the initiative of the Finchley Society, of which Spike was President.

Tracy Cooper

Geoffrey Hanson

Director - East Finchley Arts Festival

Geoffrey founded the East Finchley Arts Festival in 1997, initially solely programming classical concerts in the All Saints’ Church in Durham Road. However, since then it has expanded to include a wide range of performing arts and venues. At the annual event every October, audiences can now enjoy poetry, children’s entertainment, school performances, piano recitals, theatre, folk music, local walks, a choir as well as The London Mozart Players in three venues: The Phoenix Cinema, Black Gull Books as well as All Saints’.

Last September, Geoffrey announced his retirement as Director of Music at All Saints’ after nearly 30 years, having started there in 1987, although he still continues in his role with the Festival. Geoffrey is a distinguished composer and organist in his own right, and his career has seen him travel to Paris, Italy and the USA. You’ll see him again at the East Finchley Arts Festival later this year, celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Tracy Cooper

Elizabeth Davies

Chairman of the Trustees - The Finchley Charities

In 2018 The Finchley Charities celebrates 530 years in existence. The Finchley Charities operate sheltered housing for elderly residents of Barnet who are in need, at three sites around Finchley, providing beautiful settings and a caring community, with a total of 156 flats. Work is now almost complete on a further 16, one-bedroomed flats in Wilmot Close, N2. Elizabeth was first appointed a trustee in May 2010 and was then appointed Chairman in September 2014. Elizabeth has a particular interest in caring for the older population and is interested in the NHS and elder care.

Having been fortunate enough to be able to buy her own house, Elizabeth realises the great comfort that having a safe and secure home gives an individual. She is involved in local Barnet activities, a former chairman of Dollis Park Residents’ Association, a member of the Friends of Montclair (the US town twinned with Barnet) and a member of the Gordon Road Allotments Association.

Tracy Cooper

The Archer Team

East Finchley newspaper

Running the vibrant local free newspaper since 1993, The Archer team have covered every interesting local event and personality for the last 25 years and have an intimate knowledge of the people, places and stories of East Finchley. Named in honour of the dynamic statue that stands over East Finchley station, The Archer is totally independent, non-political and non-religious. It is run by and exists for the community in East Finchley, and is delivered every month to over 9,500 households in the area.

Starting solely as a print paper, The Archer has expanded with the times to have a website and an active Facebook page. Both feature more regular updates, photos and comments on local stories and issues, but all of it is still written, designed, produced and delivered entirely by a team of volunteers. Costs are covered by support in the form of advertising by local businesses, and everyone contributes for free. In 2010 the paper received the London Borough of Barnet Civic Award for services to the community, and long may it continue.