We post photos regularly on Facebook, and occasional news below:

Friends of Canonbury Square won a Mayor’s Civic Award – L-R Alessandro Gallieni; Judith Parker; Ian McVeigh; Mayor Troy Gallagher; Alex Guilbard; Councillor Nurullah Turan; Islington Gazette Editor Andre Langlois; Beatrix Payne; Abdirizak Burlaeg and Paul Ballantyne.

Islington Council presented the Mayor’s Civic Awards and the Ben Kinsella Award to the borough’s unsung heroes at a special ceremony at the Town Hall last night 16th March.

The last two years have seen many residents adapting to new challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic putting new strains on mental and physical wellbeing. This year’s award winners were all nominated for caring for others or doing work that improved the lives of people in their communities. They were presented with their awards by the Mayor of Islington, Cllr Troy Gallagher.

The winner of the Ben Kinsella Award 2022 is Tyler Clancy, an incredibly resilient and driven young person. After losing his friend to knife crime last year, Tyler became involved with Platform Youth Hub. He has since shown himself to be a true leader and inspiration to his peers, organising LGBTQIA+ events and offering support to friends dealing with grief.

The Mayor’s Civic Awards were presented to:

Hanna Araya and Danayt Leul, two young people who arrived in the UK as unaccompanied asylum seekers, speaking no English and knowing no-one here. They were referred to Grandmentors, a programme for care experienced young people, and have subsequently developed their own passion for helping people. After being introduced to charity The Little Things, they have spent their time feeding the homeless. Taking over the hot drinks station outside the fire station on Old Street, they have offered warm beverages to those who need them, even throughout the winter when freezing temperatures would discourage all but the most dedicated to stay at home.

Lawrence Curtis, who set up Healthy Minds, Healthy Bods, turning his experience of unemployment and depression into a project that has brought healthy habits, exercise positivity, dance and joy to many, especially in the Highbury area. As well as taking people out on walks and doing Zumba on Highbury Fields, Lawrence gave out weekly mental health packs to others during the lockdown, which were described as ‘a lifeline’ in his nomination. Hundreds of people are mentally and physically healthier because of his determination, positivity, creativity and persevering personality.

Islington Parkrun Volunteers, a group that facilitates the biggest weekly social event for all ages in Islington, the Highbury Fields Parkrun. The volunteers get up early every Saturday and Sunday, week in, week out, to provide a free timed run for Islington residents. Their service is hugely appreciated by all those who attend the Parkrun, who praise it for boosting their mental and physical wellbeing, and providing a social space where people can meet new friends.

Beatrix Payne, Mads Iversen and Ian McVeigh, who set up the Friends of Canonbury Square group a few years ago. They have since worked hard to keep the community gardening project meeting at least once a month, bringing together the residents of the square as well as those who live nearby and don’t have access to private gardens. They have a huge positive impact in Canonbury Square and are described in their nomination as ‘always helpful to those around them’.

Lunita Williams, the dynamic leader of a diverse group of volunteers who have transformed an overgrown and neglected area of Highbury Fields, making an outstanding contribution to the well-being of the local community. As well as managing the Highbury Fields Garden volunteers, she has also volunteered at Canonbury Primary School for more than 20 years. Lunita has achieved all this with flair, enthusiasm and tenacity.

Mayor of Islington, Cllr Troy Gallagher said: “These awards give us the opportunity to show our gratitude for the fantastic people in Islington who go above and beyond to improve the lives of others. We all know that the last two years have been incredibly difficult for many people, so I am very pleased that we can raise up our champions who have done so much to support their communities and help us move towards a more equal future.”

André Langlois, editor of the Islington Gazette, which sponsors the awards, said: “It is always an honour to read through the nominations for these awards. Over the past two years, more than ever before, the value of those working for their communities has been plain to see.

“These winners are all fully deserving of our praise and an inspiration for what can be achieved.”


February 2022

Friends of Canonbury Square volunteers spent Saturday Feb 19th tidying up the West Garden in the wake of storm Eunice. She had shaken quite a lot of dead wood from the two magnificent London Planes standing in the centre.
Where possible we broke up the sticks and branches into small pieces and scattered them on the flower beds to let them rot down, as would happen in a natural woodland. 
Thanks to the 19 volunteers who turned out. Five of the volunteers were under 10 years old and did a great job creating piles of sticks and sweeping up leaves. 
We deadheaded and cut back the anemones, grasses and lavenders revealing snowdrops and small daffodils. We tidied up the beds around each gate and made the garden a little more presentable. 
Amazingly we achieved this in the two hours of intermittent sunshine before the rain began and we ran for cover. 
Enjoy the early spring and see you all on Saturday March 19th.


 May 2021

We had a great session yesterday with 20 volunteers, five of them children. We dodged the welcome rain showers to plant some lavender, sow some sunflower seeds, sweep, weed and tidy. The highlight was planting the Lobelia and Aubretia nurtured from seed by our Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteer Grace. Look for these lovely plants in the raised beds by the east gate of the east garden.

Our next gardening morning will be 19th June. We hope to see you then.


April 2021

Many thanks to the 18 adults and children who turned up on Saturday morning to give a bit of love to Canonbury Square’s public gardens. It was a glorious spring morning and we swept, weeded and litter picked.

First-timers Javier and Diego restored the pile of logs and sticks that is the Canonbury Square Bug Hotel, just by the bird bath at the East gate. Aysha, Esmelda and her daughter did a great job weeding the central beds while Stephen, Steven, Frances, Alex, Ian and David tidied up the West garden. Petra and Mads began the laborious process of aerating the lawns in the East garden.

Our next community gardening session will be on Saturday May 15th from 10am, we hope to see you there.


March 2021

An amazing 23 volunteers turned up last Saturday 20th March to spruce up Canonbury Square’s public gardens. Many masked and all at a distance, we swept, weeded, tidied. We spread well-rotted manure under the roses, grapevines and currant bushes courtesy of our neighbourhood goats, sheep and cows at Freightliners Farm https://www.freightlinersfarm.org.uk/new-page

It was great to be outdoors and active again. Our next gardening morning will be Saturday April 17th.

We hope to see you there.


Annual General Meeting
Thursday February 4th 2021 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Online – email info@friendsofcanonburysquare.org.uk to register
Electing the management committee and seeking ideas for activities in 2021.  
Organised by Friends of Canonbury Square
With the support of Islington Council

October 2020

A total of 22 volunteers  joined us to spread compost, plant bulbs and give Canonbury Square a bit of TLC. Welcome to Ludo who did amazing work wheelbarrowing three tonnes of compost to the perimeter beds. Garry, Emma, Petra, Judith and Douglas planted and protected some new shrubs. Christina, Clara, Tricia, Christabel and Rosemary planted a load of tulip and daffodil bulbs. Stephen, Philip, Alex, Hatun and Liz did great work sweeping leaves and tidying up. Thanks everyone for your help and support.

Our next session will be on Saturday 21st November.


September 2020

Many thanks to the 20 volunteers who turned out on the third Saturday of September to remove the orange netting that had been protecting the new plants. We also swept up 15 bags of leaves from both the East and West gardens and began the annual task of pruning and removing dead wood from the shrubs.St Mary’s Councillor Nurullah Turan joined us for a while to give encouragement and listen to local concerns.

We look forward to seeing you for our next gardening day on Saturday October 17th when we hope to be planting some spring bulbs.


July 2020

Gardening in the time of COVID

We had a fruitful community gardening morning in July with 15 volunteers sweeping, litter picking, dead-heading, watering and giving both gardens of Canonbury Square a good tidy. We also had a chance for a chat and a good catch-up with each other now lockdown restrictions are easing.

A small work party gave the iconic phonebox on the corner with Canonbury Road a good wash and polish. To continue to look after this phone box, Friends of Canonbury Sq will need to set up as a registered charity so we need some trustees. Anyone aged 18 or above can be a trustee, the role is not likely to involve more than eight hours a year of your time and will offer good experience in communication and leadership. Please get in touch if this is something you would be interested in.

We will take a break in August and plan to hold the next gardening morning on Saturday 19th September. See you then!


March 2020

The turf had been laid and the planting in the raised beds is starting to show its spring growth. With the Magnolia in full flower, things are looking beautiful in Canonbury Square’s East garden.

The orange fence will soon be replaced but the lawns and beds are likely to remain cordoned off for a few more months to give the new plants time to establish themselves.

Our next gardening session is Saturday 21st March, meeting by the new sun dial in the centre of the East garden. Hope to see you there.



Jan 2020

We spent a beautiful, crisp January morning in Canonbury Square’s West garden mostly sweeping up twigs and sticks that had fallen during storm Brendan. Many thanks to the thirteen volunteers who turned out including first-timers Ria and Tomek. We discovered a number of small signs of spring such as the snowdrops and hellebores pushing through the soil in the perimeter beds. We cut back some of the deadwood from the winter, generating six bags of garden waste for the council to collect. Hots cups of tea and coffee and Gill’s home–made panettone kept us going.

Please join us indoors at Islington Town Hall for the Friends of Canonbury Square AGM on Monday 27th January from 6:45pm. The next gardening morning will be 15th February.


October 20th

It was a glorious day for gardening in the West side of Canonbury Square. We had a great turn-out including visiting volunteers Els from Kinderdijk and Gary from Milton Keynes.

Thanks to: Christina and new member Avril for spreading a tonne of mulch; Abdirizak, Gary and Ian for sweeping the pathways and leaving the leaves on the beds for the birds and insects; Stephen and Graham for planting around 300 bluebell, snowdrop and daffodil bulbs; Gilly and Carolyn for tidying up the roses and tackling some much-needed pruning and Caryn and Trish for filling gaps in the central beds with very welcome anemones and cyclamen. 

Not only did we get a huge amount of work done but we were able to have a good catch-up over Gill’s delicious banana bread – thank you Gill.

Our next session will be on Saturday 16th November. See you then.


September 21st

Thank you to those 14 volunteers who on Saturday worked hard to tidy up the West garden. It was a beautiful late summer day and a lot of time was spent on the seasonal job of leaf sweeping. We have created two piles of leaves in the borders to provide cover for insects and birds. 

We also pruned some of the border shrubs to let in light and encourage better growth next Spring, generating three huge bags of cuttings for collection.

Thanks to Carolyn and Judith for bringing some plants for the centre beds and thanks to Gill for baking delicious shortbread.

Get ready for October 19th when we hope to have some bulbs and start planting some shrubs and ground cover.

July 20th

A big shout-out to the volunteers who came out on Saturday to tidy the West side of the square. It was a warm, calm day and the team did a lot of trimming, sweeping and dead-heading.

Many thanks to Gill for making delicious shortbread for us.We will be taking a break in August but will be back in the West side on Saturday 21st September.

A technical problem to do with pipe-work means Cadent has tweaked its plans and the East side of Canonbury Sq is likely to remain closed off until mid to late October. This is disappointing but not unexpected. It should not affect plans to restore the square and get the new planting plan dug in before Winter bites.     

 Hope to see you on September 21st.

June 15th

Thank you to those who turned out on Saturday to work in the West side of Canonbury Square. 

A fantastic amount of work was done from pruning the vines, dead-heading the roses, spreading compost, bedding in some donated plants (thank you Liz and Jack Lambert!), trimming the holly and sweeping the hard surfaces.

All of this in three hours!

The West garden looks great – and a couple (John and Angel) planning to be married in late August have picked it as the location for their wedding pictures. 

May 18th

Thanks to everyone who turned out today. It was a pleasant morning with a bit of sunshine. We were very efficiently able to spread compost (just before the rain came) on a third of the perimeter beds

We gave the place a good tidy of leaves, old branches and dead wood filling four big bags with garden waste.

Since starting to lock the West side of the square at night we have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of litter – especially broken glass, bottles and cans. 

We are looking for a few more volunteers to help lock and unlock the gates. We would also really benefit from a digitally savvy volunteer willing to manage the website, Facebook page and Friends of Canonbury Square’s general online presence. If you are interested please get in touch.

Mulching on a May morning

Many thanks to everyone who turned out on Sunday Feb 24th.

It was a lovely, sunny, early spring day and we were very productive moving plants around in the raised beds in preparation for the Cadent work to begin.

The large clumps of Stipia grasses look great and have inspired our planting plans for this Autumn. The bulbs we planted last autumn are already starting to show green shoots with one daffodil already in bloom.
Early days but it all looks promising.
See you on Sat 16 March for the next session.

Friends of Canonbury Square’s Annual General Meeting
Tuesday 29th January 2019
19h10 to 20h30
Committee Room 4, 1st Floor, Islington Town Hall.
We need your views on planting plans and designs for when Cadent completes its work in the Square.
We will update you on Cadent’s plans and briefly reflect on what we have achieved together over the last year.
It will also be a great opportunity to meet and chat with your neighbours.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is something specific you would like to add to the agenda.
Feel free to invite anyone you think might be interested but do let us know if you will be attending so we can plan accordingly.
Best wishes,
Beatrix, Ian, Francois and Mads.

Dec 15th

Eleven volunteers turned out on Saturday to tidy and prune in the cold. A number of shrubs were carefully cut back to allow other plants some space for imminent flowering. Mads led the team which generated 15 bags of garden waste.
We moved to the Compton Arms at noon and warmed up with mulled wine and lively discussion regarding new trees and spring planting. The consensus was that we’d be happy to see the palm trees in the central circle replaced if they are removed during Cadent’s gas works which are planned to take place from March 2019. A final decision can be taken at the upcoming AGM which will be in late January or early February. Watch this space for a confirmed date.
Have a great Christmas break and see you in January.

Nov 17th

Many thanks to the team of around 12 volunteers that turned out this month to spread compost, plant bulbs and shrubs and broadcast seeds.

We were able to plant up the two large containers by the East gate with some shade-loving shrubs. Most of the bulbs went into the ornamental beds in the West garden so, all being well, we should see some snowdrops, daffodills and bluebells appearing here from January onwards. Bulbs were also planted around the memorial bench for Rose Emily Parker. Pathways were swept while flapjacks and gingerbread baked kindly by Lynn and Gill keep us all going. We ended the morning with 13 bags of garden waste left for the Council team to collect.
Passers-by commented on how much tidier the East garden is looking and, it appears, more school children and families are using the Square.
We can’t wait to start properly planting up the raised beds on the East side to bring back a bit of colour and bloom. But these plans are on hold until Cadent have finished their work burying a gas governor under the hard paving in the centre of the square.
Next gardening day will be Dec 15th with a festive Christmas twist

Oct 20th 2018

Thanks to all those who came out to garden today on what was another beautiful, warm, late-autumn morning. We had nearly 20 volunteers who swept leaves, weeded and tidied the flower beds, pruned and began getting the East side of the park ready for the winter. Rosemary and Mads shovelled two tonnes of compost into the planters beside the East gate, ready for planting up with shade loving plants later in the year. Graham, Francois and Ianne worked in the West garden clearing the beds and making that side of the square a little more presentable.

Today we filled 25 bags of garden waste for the council to collect.

Many thanks to Lynn and Gill for their delicious cakes and welcome to new “Friends” Najib and Alex.

Our next gardening day will be 17th November and we expect to be able to plant some spring bulbs on both sides of the square.



Oct 16th 2018

Gas supplier Cadent is planning major and, in the short-term, disruptive works in Canonbury Square. We agree that this upgrade of existing gas distribution equipment serving 50,000 homes is needed. But we are very concerned the current plan to locate key equipment under the West lawn of the East side of Canonbury Square will leave a permanent scar in this historic and much loved public space.
The Canonbury Society, Friends of Canonbury Square and St Mary’s Ward councillors have asked Cadent to consider other more suitable locations for this equipment in Canonbury Square and we are waiting to hear from them.
Cadent will be holding a public information presentation in Canonbury Square on Wednesday 17th October from 4-7pm, please come along to find out more and share your views on the work with Cadent.
These works may affect your property, route to school and route to work. Make sure you have all the information you need.
You can contact Cadent on info@communityrelations.co.uk

Sept 15th 2018

Today was a beautiful early autumn day with plenty of warm sunshine. A team of about 10 volunteers swept up leaves from the paths, weeded and tidied the beds, mowed the lawns and began the big job of pruning the perimeter shrubs to improve sight-lines into the square.

We got a surprisingly large amount of work done during the morning, producing 28 bags of garden waste ready for the council team to collect!

It was great to have help from our St Mary’s Ward councillors Angela Picknell and Narullah Turan, with his lovely kids, before they all headed off to the opening of the new playground in Milner Square. A big thanks to Angela who got stuck in while dressed in her smart clothes.

Especial thanks to Liz for all the mowing and Ian for supplying the biscuits.

See you all again on Saturday October 20th when we hope to be planting bulbs and spreading compost.


July 2018

There was a great turn-out for the first-ever community gardening morning for the Friends of Canonbury Square on Saturday 21 July as neighbours and families gathered to weed, sweep and rake leaves. Fiona Mackenzie-Cardy of LBI Green Space gave some useful training in the safe use of tools to protect backs and joints,  as well as suggesting lots of ideas for the future. Watch this space.

We also gained entrance to the park gardeners’ shed which is packed with garden tools, hose pipes and wheelbarrows — everything we need for our gardening mornings.
Thanks to everyone of all ages for giving their time and putting some sparkle back in the square.
A special thanks to St Mary’s Ward councillors Nurullah Turan and his children for their hard work sweeping and weeding; and to Angela Picknell for taking the time to come and meet us.

Thanks to Lynn for the delicious shortbread biscuits and many thanks to Obiorah who has been sleeping on a park bench since just before Christmas 2017 and helped us sweep the flagstones on the West side of the square.