Nabila El-Ahmadi: multi-tasking mum

27 May

Everyone has a story. Despite looking after four school-aged children and having a demanding job, Islingtonian Nabila El-Ahmadi, 36, manages to be a school governor, Arsenal fan and get to her boxercise class. Interview by Nicola Baird

Nabila El-Ahmadi at Lizzy’s on the Green planning the Bollywood themed prom for Year 6 leavers at St Jude & St Paul’s Primary School

Nabila El-Ahmadi at Lizzy’s on the Green planning the Hollywood themed prom for Year 6 leavers at St Jude & St Paul’s Primary School

“I was born and raised in Islington. I went to Pakeman Primary School on Hornsey Road, and then to Hornsey Girls School. I then went to Barnet College for A levels and to London Guildhall University (now London Metropolitan) to do a degree in law. I still live in Islington, and I’m still involved with Islington schools as a parent governor at Highbury Fields School.

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“I loved where I grew up on in Hornsey – it’ll always be home to me. I was born in the Mother’s Hospital and then lived in Crouch Hill for 23 years until Mum moved to Broxbourne. My mum was quite strict but used to let me stay out until 10pm, I wonder about why she did that, but my brothers looked out for me too.

Nabila El-Ahmadi: "I really like driving. I need to do a super car drive day so I can try a Ferrari or Lamborghini."

As a teenager Nabila El-Ahmadi worked at a garage as an apprentice mechanic. “I really like driving. I need to do a super car drive day so I can try a Ferrari or Lamborghini.”

“I’m one of eight – I’m number seven. I’ve got one younger brother and four older brothers so perhaps that’s why I was a bit of a tomboy. My room was blue and filled with pictures of Arsenal players and luxury cars. I loved that room with the Mercedes, Range Rovers and Bentleys on the wall – everything I can’t afford. I look at cars as pieces of art, not bits of metal.

“During the school holidays from the time I was 15 until I was 18 years I worked as an apprentice mechanic in a garage. Then I went on to work part time in a big dealership during the school holidays. It was character building! You had to have a tough skin and deal with the jokes. I really like driving.

Emirates Stadium: AISA's Paul Matz lives just 12 minutes away.

Gunners fan Nabila El-Ahmadi has worked as a steward at both the Emirates and old Highbury.

Places Nabila likes in Islington

  • I like the Emirates, but I prefer old Highbury. I went a couple of times to Highbury as a spectator and the last match I saw was when Ian Wright broke Arsenal’s goal scoring record. He lifted up his top and had 179 on the vest.
  • I like Newington Green. I remember when Lizzy’s café wasn’t here. Lizzy’s is great – the only café I’ve been to which gives you blankets so you can sit outside. And I like the little park.
  • clara-euphorium

    Cafes at Angel.

    Angel is a nice place to spend the afternoon. It’s got lots of cafes, cinema and such a diversity of shops and people.

  • Mum’s in her 70s now but still comes with my Dad to Holloway to buy meat at the Algerian butchers on Seven Sisters Road. My parents are fussy about meat: it has to be halal and really decent. Every Sunday I look forward to my Dad’s Moroccan chicken tagine.

Working life
“I am an avid Arsenal fan and was a steward for 12 years working at both Highbury and the Emirates stadium. I gave up when my last child was born (he’s six now). I do really miss it. But it was eye-opening – no language fazes me now. You had to deal with difficult behaviour and build a rapport. I was lucky I never had to eject anyone.

“I’m a voluntary sector broker working in social care in London. It’s interesting and I have a sense that I’m doing something good for families who need services, but might otherwise miss out. Part of my role is to network and form partnerships with organisations like Home-start UK and Sure Start Children’s Centres. I’m really interested in children and their welfare, and safeguarding.

“I absolutely love boxing. I do a boxercise class. It’s a really good stress release and quite technical as well. It’s good to have found something I really enjoy at the gym as I hate jogging and find yoga and meditation quite boring. My mind just wanders and I start thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner, I can’t be in the zone. My niece, who is 15, and daughters 14 and 11, wish they could box. They’ve all got junior boxing gloves. We’re all looking forward to the new boxing gym opening at Sobell and wish they would hurry up. All girls need a couple of sessions of self-defence.”

  • The new boxing gym is due to open at the Sobell Centre on Tuesday, 16 June. Basic info here.
  • Lizzy’s On the Green is open most days. The café want to celebrate its second birthday by asking people to send them suggestions for the future and how the café has benefitted the area. Email:
  • As long as you are over 18 years old you can be a school governor. Find out more here. There’s also info about what governors do from the National Governors Association here 

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via at Thank you.

If you liked this interview please SHARE on twitter or Facebook or join the Facebook group. Even better follow (see menu top right) or follow me on twitter @nicolabairduk

This blog is inspired by Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola


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