Photo of Leigh Coghill by Sean Hansford

Leigh Coghill is a committed campaigner for all kinds of environmental causes. Nominator Adela Pickles says:

“Leigh is a true Yorkshire hero, although originally from Wolverhampton. She is currently involved in leafleting Thirsk and Malton constituency about fracking before the election.

She first appeared on my radar last year at the anti fracking rally in York, standing on a table addressing the crowds about the dangers this industrial process presents to the 40% of the UK unlucky enough to live on top of shale gas-bearing geology.

Last year, Leigh spent all her free time from her job at York City Council volunteering for Frack Free York, until we asked her to help us in Ryedale as well.”

Who will it help/who has it helped already?

Leigh has organised several coaches from Scarborough, Malton and York to support the community at Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire at rallies and peaceful demonstrations.

She has attended 40+ local group meetings in order to help co-ordinate activities throughout Ryedale and York and liaises with the Kirby Misperton Protection Campers to organise information days, pot luck lunches and other events to help raise awareness about fracking in the local area.

She also organised a Ryedale tour and all the publicity for Bentley Effect, which played to packed houses three nights running last week in Gilling, Helmsley and Pickering.

What’s worked?

Persistence and positivity. Leigh says “As someone told me recently, yes it can feel like hitting your head against a brick wall, but you never know when one of those bricks is about to fall!

We recently managed to get a front page story in the local press the day before the election; a great victory for us which was a the result of some hard preparation, many, many phone calls and a good dash of luck!”

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

Leigh has been down to Westminster to attend All Party Parliamentary groups on fracking and shale gas and has learnt about lobbying and working with MPs to influence change.

Communication is Queen! Being part of a team means you share your successes, and your failures. Be honest about the help you need, and what you can give to others. And then stick by your word.

Get to know your community. It’s not always plain-sailing but it’s astonishing what happens when people come together – avid vegans working with 4th generation dairy farmers, and life-long Tories and tree-dwelling anarchists side-by-side. Take the time to talk to people. It might turn out they have a very useful contact.

What’s next?

It all depends on the political landscape. All opposition parties are calling for a ban, whilst the Conservatives are for shale gas extraction.

The plan remains the same, step up the pressure on politicians, seize media opportunities and get ‘out there’ on the streets to educate and empower the public to make their own decisions.

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

Contacts who understand the economic (as well as the wellbeing and environmental) case for preventing fracking. Leigh says “I’m a lover, as well as a fighter! I’m all for taking the battle to the fossil-fuel overlords, but really I want a clean, sustainable energy future for everyone. Being able to connect our frack-free campaign with a more positive renewable energy campaign would be brilliant.”


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An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in our region!

Do you know a Yorkshire woman who deserves recognition, or would you like us to feature your story? Then please share it!

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