Enjoy snooker? A wild walk? A countryside ramble? Perhaps a book discussion? Theatre outing? Or just meeting like-minded people? Letchworth Arts and Leisure Group (LALG) has something for you. And this unique organisation has just celebrated its 35th anniversary.

With some 130 leisure activities every month and a membership of over 1,500 households in and around Letchworth, including many from Fairfield, LALG demonstrates how enthusiastic volunteers can create something magical.

Among those many enthusiastic volunteers is Fairfield resident Elaine Fox, LALG’s chair. Elaine is also the point of contact for the thriving Fairfield Book Group, part of the wide-ranging LALG family, which meets monthly at Fairfield Bowls Club (email fairfieldbookgroup@lalg.org.uk for details). Fairfield also features in other LALG activities, with Fairfield Hall an occasional starting point for a walking group stroll through our local countryside, for example.

The non-profit organisation was the brainchild of William Armitage, who ran Letchworth’s David’s Bookshop with brothers David and Simon and two non-family directors. Conceived as a bookshop club, the plan was for single subscription access to numerous activities. From an initial four groups in 1987, LALG swiftly expanded. By 1991 there were theatre trips, concert visits, trips to a brewery and to Lincoln Christmas market, cycling, rambling, history, philosophy, writing, discussing books, art and design, films, and bridge. Annual household membership then was £5. Today it is just £10, with no more to pay other than any room hire, transport or food and drink costs.

That buys access to a huge number of activities, all detailed in the monthly online newsletter (available printed and posted for a small additional sum). And if, as it once did, it tells you the musical South Pacific is by Rodgers and Hammerhead, not Rodgers and Hammerstein, blame auto-correct spellcheck.

Covid brought challenges. But LALG continued to thrive. Says Elaine Fox: “We have proved that LALG has the resilience and the strength to cope with what life throws at us.”

Trips and Events, Arts and Books, Crafts and Gardening, Food and Drink, Languages, Social Groups, Sports and Games, Walking Groups (17 cater for all levels) are among the many group categories. Monthly members meetings (with a small charge toward room hire) have fascinating speakers. Litter pickers have collected 778 huge bags of rubbish in the past 18 months.Membership brings discounts at over 40 local businesses, plus links with organisations offering further activities.

Visit the lalg.org.uk website to discover more or pick up a newsletter from David’s Bookshop. Thoughts on possible new groups are always welcome at newideas@lalg.org.uk. Proposals from Fairfield are particularly welcome.

David Walker