This month, I was delighted to have a chat with lovely Fairfield resident Laura Probert: wife, mother, healthcare worker and event planner extraordinaire.

AF: Thank you for meeting me today! Will you introduce yourself?

LP: Sure, I’m Laura Probert and I moved to Fairfield – gosh, is it two years ago now? We’ve had two proper Halloweens here, so this is the third Halloween – three years ago! 

AF: I love how you count the years in Halloweens! Haha

LP: Halloween is important! Haha I’ve just recently started working at the community hall. I’ve been helping out while the lovely Roger is away. Unfortunately there’s not much to do at the moment with lockdown, because all the clubs and classes are obviously closed, which is really sad.

AF:  What kind of work do you do outside of the community hall? 

LP: For my day job, I work as a paramedic in London which I do part time because I have two children. I schedule my work around my husband’s shifts – he’s also a paramedic. That’s why I started working at the hall – to kind of fill the days that my husband is at work and the children are at school. I love coming and helping out here. It’s nice to help the community feel more positive. And it keeps me out of trouble! 

AF: Haha So how old are your children?

LP: Freya is eight and Thomas is five and a half. Such an awesome age! They attend school here, and thankfully they love it. Growing up in Fairfield feels quite special because it’s just such a great place.

AF: How did you guys find Fairfield? Are you from this area?

LP: No, I’m originally from Cornwall actually! My husband and I met on the job when I was new to London, and when we wanted to start a family we moved to Letchworth, where Freya started school. Luckily, she got into Fairfield. We decided it would be nice to be able to walk to school, so we moved on to the Park, which has turned out to be the best thing we ever did. 

AF: What do you think it is about Fairfield that makes it such a special place? Because I know exactly what you’re talking about… it feels like a little bubble of domestic bliss. In fact, my husband refers to this place as ‘The Shire’. Haha

LP: Yeah, exactly! It’s almost like living in a community project that is unlike anywhere else. I think we’re very lucky to experience the feeling of safety and connectedness and how everything is just so beautiful. Everyone keeps their gardens nice. There are so many lovely walks, the buildings are beautiful. The people are friendly. Everybody knows everybody and the children all know each other. And of course, we have an amazing Halloween and Christmas. And it does feel like a bubble. Which I love.

AF: You’ve mentioned Halloween a few times – why don’t you tell me a little bit about your love for that holiday and how it ties into the work you’ve done here? 

LP: The first year that we were here, everyone was saying, “Oh, Halloween is amazing” and I’m just a big kid – I love dressing up and parties and decorating – so I couldn’t wait! And we were blown away that first Halloween. Everyone really goes to town and it was such a great night with our children; we had so much fun! Then the year after was the birth of the Halloween Ball and my non-profit Fairfield Events company. It was hard work, but it was a lot of fun! We were so looking forward to doing it again this year, with some great ideas, but they slowly fell away with the realisation that it wasn’t going to happen because of the pandemic.

AF: This pandemic has ruined so much. 

LP: Yeah, it’s really sad. We had big plans for Christmas as well this year, hoping to organise a pantomime and maybe even a visit from the big man himself, which would have been amazing. And then we had plans for New Year too! Hopefully next year, we can get back to planning some really fun events that we can all enjoy as a community. 

AF: How do you feel the response has been to the pandemic?

LP: Well, I feel like our community pandemic response has been really good: a lot of people helping their neighbours and there’s that wonderful family that made masks to donate, which is so cool. I heard it was over 5,000 masks – that’s amazing! So many people got involved by putting pictures in the windows, and the cheer for NHS workers every week… I did feel quite thankful about being in Fairfield during the scariest time in the Spring.

AF: Roll on a coronavirus vaccine! 

LP: Absolutely! I hope that this next lockdown goes smoothly and everyone stays safe. And that we can try to have a nice holiday season, albeit a muted one. But I think once people know things are safe and we can socialise again the way we want to – what feels natural – there are going to be huge celebrations! I can’t wait for that day. 

AF: I think we all feel the same way! Thank you so much for speaking to me today, it’s been lovely.

LP: It was my pleasure – thank you!

Amber Fortier moved to Fairfield Park in 2017 with her husband and three young children. She is originally from New York.