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MBE for Castlehaven Community Association’s Eleanor Botwright

Community workers has helped raised millions of pounds in heart of Camden Town

05 January, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Eleanor Botwright receives her award at the Town Hall

TO see a monument to the work of Eleanor Botwright, who has been awarded an MBE, you only need to stand at Castlehaven Community Association and look around you.

The tireless community campaign­er, who has run the CCA since it was set up in 1985, has raised an estimated £17m over the years, helped hundreds of people find work and access services, and turned a patch of wasteland into a thriving community garden and sports pitch. She has been a community activist since the 1970s when she was living in west London with two young children and working part-time in the catering industry.

She had noticed how there was a desperate need for children’s services and activities in Shepherds Bush and decided to do something about it. Eleanor raised money to build a shed in a park, Little Wormwood Scrubs, where many young families would meet, and to stock it with toys and games. It was the start of her involvement in the voluntary sector. 0

In 1985, Eleanor applied for a job in Camden Town to start a community association in Castlehaven. A group of residents sought funding through Camden Council to set up a charity and employ an experienced community develop­ment manager to create a new space for their community – the start of Castle­haven Community Associat­ion.

The work at Castlehaven includes everything from running voluntary groups to holding free monthly solicitors’ advice sessions. The centre hosts councillors’ surgeries, organises the distribution of foodbank vouchers, and hosts CLASP (Camden LGBT Advice and Safety Project), Iraqi Elders Refugee Support Group, language classes, youth disability projects, soup clubs and careers advice and training for young people. Through partnership projects, the CCA has given more than 60 international interns a chance to volunteer at the centre. Camden Mayor Richard Cotton hosted a ceremony for Eleanor to receive her award at the town hall. Because she was born in Ireland, royal protocol means she was not permitted to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.

Instead, the Queen’s represent­ative, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London Kenneth Olisa, gave her the award.

Councillor Cotton said: “In a way, it seems more appropriate that someone who has done so, so much for Camden should come to the town hall to receive her MBE. “Eleanor is many things to many people – she is a fantastic negotiator and she has achieved so much for the community. “She has transformed the area. You go there and see so many young people playing football, so many older people who are no longer isolated, and none of this would happen without her.”

He added: “She said the work of the association is not just down to one person – but it takes someone to build that team. She has incredible drive, she has a real passion and she gets things done. She has done as much as anybody to improve the lives of people living in and around Castlehaven.”

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