Doris Connolly was born in Great Yarmouth in 1924, whilst her husband Don, was born in Kent two years later. Both were community stalwarts on the New Parks estate in Leicester for more than half a century.
The couple met as teenage evacuees on the streets of Leicester during a blackout, married in 1945 after Don began a 40-year stint as a miner at Desford Colliery for more than 40 years. They would live, work, and campaign in the Leicester area for the rest of their lives.
Having been active in the former BraunstoneFrith Tenants' and Residents' Association before moving to Pickwell Close, New Parks, the Connollys were founder members of New Parks Residents' Association.It is no exaggeration that they then dedicated their lives to improving the lives of people on the estate, even though – maybe because – they had eight children.
The couple were instrumental in securing the New Parks Community Centre, in
Oswalds Road, for the estate, and New Parks Adventure Playground, in Glenfield Road. Don was chairman of the New Parks Community Project, which helped turn New Parks Community Adult Education Centre into a college.
As committed social campaigners and lifelong members of the Communist Party, the couple received a unique honour by having a street named after them. Connolly Close, off Birkenshaw Road, is named after the couple, and includes eight council houses and two council flats, created as part of the city council's first new-build council house project in decades.
Don was chair of the Leicester branch of the Communist Party for three decades and a member of the Party’s East Midlands District Committee for a period. He also chaired the Leicester Committee Against the Poll Tax in the 1980s and the Leicester Tenants' and Residents' Association.
Doris was a long-term volunteer behind the bar at New Parks Community Centre and organised an annual Christmas toy collection for youngsters on the estate. She died in November 2009, aged 85.
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