Photo of Cllr Dinah Keal

Dinah Keal

Dinah Keal has been nominated by her daughter, Hannah. Hannah says: “My mum truly embodies the phrase ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. She’s campaigned tirelessly to improve our local community for everyone in it, as a local councillor and activist.

She first got involved in local politics when Norton, our community was flooded. She led a successful campaign to get £10.3 million flood defences to protect local people. That was the event that led to her getting involved in local activism, nearly 20 years ago.

All this has been done whilst raising three daughters, holding down a full time job at the Alzheimers Society and supporting her husband, who suffers from severe OCD.”

Who has it helped/who will it help?

“Our entire community. Amongst her other achievements have been leading the charge to create a Sports Centre for our local community, social history project the Woodham Stone Collection, and saving a local bowls club from closure (it’s now a thriving community centre). She has also created the Castle Garden as a community space for theatre and wildlife.

In order to get flood defences for our community, my mum had to overcome the Environment Agencies system for allocating funds, which favoured cities.

The flood defences have protected our community from further devastating floods on countless occasions. At the time of the floods, my mum also supported (in particular vulnerable and elderly) local people who were being taken advantage of by insurance companies.”

What’s worked?

“Mobilising local communities to protect our interests. My mum has used traditional grassroots campaigning techniques (spending countless hours knocking on doors, gathering signatures for petitions, market stalls) to galvanise our diverse community around projects.”

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

“My mum’s latest adventure is challenging proposed fracking in Kirby Misperton, near to where she lives. She is the press spokesperson for the group and has won national coverage and mobilised local support for the campaign, which has seen the community take Third Energy, the fracking company to judicial review.

My mum has also been active in connecting with other activist groups across the country to share best practice and help each other with resources.”

What’s next?

“I think despite her many achievements and the wealth of experience she brings to community dialogue, my mum still lacks confidence, particularly with things like public speaking.

Sadly, I think imposter syndrome is something even the most accomplished women can suffer from. I think she’d benefit from advice and support in getting over this and realising she’s unstoppable!”

Why we’re sharing these stories

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!

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