Fay Weldon, celebrated novelist and president of Friends of Guys Marsh (FOGM), joined the trustees and committee recently (Wednesday, 7th May) at the Learning Centre, HMP Guys Marsh, to mark the achievements of Mrs Linda Cowley, their retiring chairman, and to thank her for her work steering the organisation’s work over the past five and a half years of her chairmanship. At the surprise event, Mrs Cowley was presented with a beautifully appliquéd cushion, specially commissioned by the committee members from Vicky Hukins who had embroidered the cushion with the words ‘For our splendid Chair. You are a star’ and on the reverse, with the signatures of Linda’s committee colleagues.
Linda was a founding trustee of the Friends of Guys Marsh, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. She took over the chairmanship from Sir Barry Wilson in 2008.
“When Sir Barry Wilson asked me to take over from him, I couldn’t see how I was ever going to be able to achieve as much as he had – it was a daunting task,” she said. “But with a strong committee to support me, I think we have achieved an awful lot in those years and have also raised our profile.”
Linda has worked closely with the prison’s governor, management team and other agencies in order to develop and champion a number of important projects that support prisoner rehabilitation. Most recently, she has been working with the prison to set up the Jailhouse Café at Guys Marsh to provide risk-assessed prisoners with catering and customer service skills. She has also organised a number of highly successful fundraising events.
Andy Chattaway, Acting Governor of HMP Guys Marsh, commented: “During her tenure as Chairman of Friends of Guys Marsh, Linda has been responsible for many projects including the funding of a resettlement coordinator, and of a Barnardo’s play worker, as well as training courses for both prisoners and staff, to name but a few. The prison is enormously grateful to her for her ten years of commitment to the prison.”
Linda will continue as a trustee of Friends of Guys Marsh. She has been succeeded as chairman by Joanna Kozubska. Also retiring was Beryl Adams, who has recently stepped down as secretary to the Friends after ten years in the role.