Our library has lost two of its supporters in the last few weeks.
Vi Gostling MBE was our President: very appropriate as she opened the original purpose-built Harrow Green public library in 1960 as a Labour councillor for Leyton. She chaired the Libraries Committee with great interest, and remembered the fine librarians with whom she worked. She often described Leytonstone library as a ‘powerhouse’ with cultural events on many nights of the week.
She was outraged at the council’s plan to close Harrow Green library in 2011 and spoke passionately at the council meeting against the closure. Vi attended our events at the community library where she always gave encouraging speeches.
She died peacefully in Whipps Cross hospital aged 97, having lived in south Leytonstone all her life, working relentlessly and effectively for cultural opportunities for adults and children in Waltham Forest. We are delighted that her 1,000 or so books have been donated to us. Roll on the day when we have big enough premises to display them all!
Nicholas Russell was a Labour councillor for Cann Hall ward until 2014 and lived in south Leytonstone. He attended many of our meetings from the start and was an avid supporter of our plan to provide a local library after the council closure. He understood the need for local people to have their own easily available venue for reading and getting together through literacy and the arts. Nick was only 45 and died of a heart attack. He was a politician of integrity and dedication.
Our library was represented at his funeral which was packed with people from the many areas of his life. Speaker after speaker praised his lifelong dogged determination in pursuit of disability rights, peace and social justice.
Both are great losses to our area, south Leytonstone, but both would be relieved to know that we are still fighting for the principles so dear to their hearts.