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A fond farewell to involved Resident, Edina
We said a fond farewell this month, to one of our long-standing involved residents, Edina Williams after she stepped down as Chair from our Customer Sounding Board.
Edina has been involved with Golding Homes since the transfer of properties from MBC in 2004, and may have stood down as a ‘resident rep’ for Lenham, but she’s not expecting the phone calls from her neighbours to end any time soon.
“Oh yes, I still get calls from people who want some advice,” commented the sprightly 81 year-old. “I help where I can.”
It’s hardly surprising that Edina is still the first person some people think of when they have a housing-related query. She has, after all, been working alongside Golding Homes for far longer than the association has existed.
Edina is proud of the fact that she was a member of the Tenants’ Consultative Forum back in 2004 when the group was asked to come up with a name for what was then called simply Maidstone Housing Trust. What is even more astonishing is that back then, at the birth of Golding Homes, Edina had already been playing a vital part in the life of local residents for a good 25 years or so.
Edina and her husband John began their life together in Hollingbourne, but with five children from two marriages they joined the waiting list for a Maidstone Borough Council home and in 1970 they were offered a place in Douglas Road, Lenham. Towards the end of the decade Edina was asked to stand as a parish councillor and soon found herself helping to tackle problems, help people and support community events.
“I enjoy helping people, taking part in meetings and trying to do my bit to help village life – although Lenham is more of a town these days,” she commented.
Her skills did not go unrecognised. In the late seventies, Maidstone Borough Council’s then Chief Executive Richard Bushrod came up with the idea of asking local people to stand as resident representatives – or ‘tenant reps’ as they became universally known – and Edina found herself with another job.
“In those days we had to collect signatures from neighbours to show that we had their support,” said Edina. “It’s not quite the same with today’s Customer Sounding Board, which encourages anyone who is interested to get involved.
As a tenant rep, Edina served on the Tenants’ Consultative Forum, which held jumble sales to raise funds, offered training courses in areas such as health and wellbeing and first aid and acted as a sounding board for the council’s housing initiatives. Edina still has the newspaper cuttings from 2004, when Maidstone Borough Council transferred its housing stock to the trust that was to become Golding Homes. She also has some fascinating photographs of an event a few years later when the couple’s tidy home was ‘invaded’ by the team from BBC One’s Politics Show.
“Dover District Council was considering going down the same voluntary transfer route, and so our lounge became a TV studio for the day so the BBC could film a discussion between representatives on both sides of the debate. I was also invited to take part alongside Peter Stringer, who was Chief Executive of Golding Homes at the time; it was a great experience,” she recalled.
In the early days Edina also enjoyed serving on the gas and repairs committee, playing her part in helping to improve people’s lives and supporting the work of the council, the trust and now Golding Homes. Her fondest memory is more recent, though. As a member and long-term chairman of Golding Homes’ Customer Sounding Board, she played a part in life-changing decisions on grants made from the association’s community chest fund. After the group agreed to donate £1,000 to Leybourne Grange Riding Centre for the Disabled back in the spring of 2017, members were invited to tour the premises. “It was a lovely visit, particularly as that was where we had sent our own pony, Mistletoe, when she ‘retired’ and some of the team remembered her,” Edina said. Mistletoe’s place in the couple’s affections is now filled by Tizer, a lively Jack Russell/Chihuahua cross, and the couple have numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After an impressive ‘career’ spent serving her community over half a century, Edina now plans to devote more time to hobbies including gardening and cooking, although she doesn’t regret any of the time she has devoted to Lenham.
“I have enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “I love being involved in the community, I’ve made some great friends and had many experiences I would not otherwise have had and been privileged to meet some fantastic people.”