June 2019


Photographic memories (part 10)

WWPS-Social-MeetingV2©David Tyrrell

In the 10th – and last – of a series of articles celebrating the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society – which is now in its 126th year – club member Alan Simpson continues to offer an insight into the group’s history. Photo by club member David Tyrrell.

When the opportunity came to move club meetings to Wanstead House Community Centre in 2014 – only 70 years after it was first suggested – the chance was taken. Once there, it was not long before the club had outgrown its ground-floor meeting room and moved into the much larger room in the attic (once the home of the defunct Leytonstone and Wanstead Camera Club). The only downside of the move to Wanstead House was that the change of evening (from Tuesday to Monday) meant several members could no longer attend, including Peter Smith, a long-standing member and former chairman.

Meeting only twice a month, and not at all in some holiday periods, left some members wanting a more regular programme. With this in mind, in 2015, informal get-togethers in the Wanstead House bar were introduced on Tuesday evenings in the weeks with no formal club meeting. Workshops were also organised on the use of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. In addition, David Tachauer, and then Brian McCarthy, took on the role of organising outings to places with photographic potential. These extra activities all proved to be successful and truly meet one of the society’s early aims, viz ‘the discussion of the subjects connected with photography in a social manner and the encouragement of photographic research practice among the members by mutual and friendly assistance’.

The move to Wanstead House, a presence on social media (notably Flickr and Facebook) and an injection of new blood and new ideas into the committee all helped to revive the society’s fortunes, and membership numbers began to rise again – in mid-2018, there were 38 paid-up members (membership now costing £65 per annum; £45 for concessions). Many of the newer members had no background in ‘traditional’ photography, their photographic interest having formed in a world of camera phones, selfies and transient online images. To help these and others develop a wider skills base, the society now places less emphasis on competitions and its programme regularly includes practical hands-on sessions and outings. This is in some way a return to the motives of the society’s early years when the founder members gave instruction and demonstration sessions, but now with greater participation.

To celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary, Dave Tyrell organised an 1893 Foundation Cup inter-club competition. This was held in October 2018, with WWPS battling against local rivals from Loughton Camera Club, Romford Camera Club, Barking Photographic Society, Chingford Photographic Society and Chigwell Camera Club. Alongside the competition, an exhibition of members’ work was on display at Wanstead House for a two-week period.

The society’s founders would be amazed at the developments that have taken place since they formed their club for ‘the advancement of photography, technically and artistically’, in the modern methods of producing photographs and in the ease with which photographs can now be mass-produced. They would no doubt also be amazed that the club they founded 125 years ago is still meeting regularly and fulfilling their original aims.

A History of Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society was originally written in 1968 by George Hunt and updated in 2002 by Gillian Hutchinson. Alan Simpson updated the text again for the group’s 125th anniversary. Visit wnstd.com/wwps

Charting the Charter (part 6)


In the sixth of a series of articles following the progress of the Wanstead Environmental Charter, Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) looks at how the council’s Local Implementation Plan will help.

The Wanstead Environmental Charter has been gathering pace since its launch at the start of May. Most of the local schools attended the launch and signed up for the principles of making Wanstead a cleaner, greener place. Each has been taking things forward, with Wanstead High School working toward the internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award.

Litter pickers continue to clean up the area – maybe one day people will stop dumping the waste in the first place.

There has been great support for the charter from The Stow Brothers, who hosted the launch and promotes the campaign on its front window and with the distribution of the leaflet. We need more businesses to follow their example. The charter organisers are looking for support for flowering boxes for street railings. There is also the aim to cut waste and free Wanstead High Street of single-use plastic.

On the council side, there are exciting developments with the publication of the Local Implementation Plan (LIP), which seeks to put the London mayor’s transport strategy into action. The overall aim is to get 80% of travel to be by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041. The LIP is being rolled out neighbourhood by neighbourhood. The guiding principles are cutting speeds, by introducing 20 mph zones, bringing in one-way streets and narrowing junctions. Rat running is to be addressed by using traffic calming measures, deploying planters to close cut-throughs and introducing one-way streets.

Walking and cycling will be encouraged, with better, safer routes. In the case of cycling, hangars to store bikes will be available. There will be a big increase in electric charging points to encourage electric vehicles. There will also be more parking permit schemes, plus school streets to address pollution.

These are the broad principles but it will be for residents to shape what exactly they want via the upcoming consultation process. In Wanstead, it is intended to roll out some of the ideas next year. It is this type of imaginative thinking that offers a real way forward. There are parts of our borough that look like concrete jungles – whether that be shopping centres or streets, where the majority of front gardens have been paved over. Key, though, to success is community involvement. These ideas can only progress when the community has bought in and participated in the process. It has to be the community totally involved in bringing about change, not something being done from outside.

So, things are moving forward with the charter agenda, but key to all progress is community involvement. Please come forward and be part of the change.

For more information on the charter and to get involved, visit wnstd.com/charter

Floating ideas (part 4)

River-Roding-1©Geoff Wilkinson

Rising at Molehill Green in Essex, the River Roding passes through the Wanstead and Woodford area en route to the Thames, bringing with it a very real flood risk to local homes. In the fourth of a series of articles charting the River Roding Project – which aims to reduce that risk – Andy Naish from the Environment Agency offers advice on protecting your property. River photo by Geoff Wilkinson.

The River Roding Project recently held a community drop-in event at Kelvedon Hatch Village Hall, near to the proposed flood storage area in Essex. This was a chance for local residents, community groups and landowners to find out more about the project, how we plan to minimise disruption and how it will reduce flooding impacts in the Wanstead and Woodford area.

Once we know which existing defences need refurbishing, we will hold a similar community drop-in event in Woodford so you can find out more. We will also be looking for opportunities to include environmental enhancements along the River Roding in the local area. Stay tuned for further details on our website.

Protecting your property
If your home or business is flooded, it can be costly, not just in terms of money and time but also inconvenience and heartache. While it’s impossible to completely floodproof a property, there are lots of things you can do to reduce the damage potential. The most important thing is to act now so you’re prepared if there is a flood in your area.

Whether you rent or own your home or business premises, there are many things you can do. Some are simple and temporary, while others involve permanent structural work. You can also make improvements so that even if the worse happens and floodwater enters your property, it causes less damage, so drying-out and cleaning up is faster and easier. This means you could move back home or open for business far more quickly.

Options to limit floodwater entering property:

  • Installing flood doors
  • Flood boards, which can be installed when flooding is imminent
  • Air brick covers: specially designed covers for ventilation bricks
  • Non-return valves: to fit on drains and water pipes to prevent water backing up

Options to reduce the floodwater damage:

  • Put irreplaceable or valuable items on high-mounted shelves
  • Fix your TV and hi-fi to the wall 1.5m above floor level
  • Fit a pump to extract floodwater (needs to be Gas Safe)
  • Lay tiles rather than carpets
  • Use water-resistant materials such as stainless steel, plastic or solid wood rather than chipboard in the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Raise electrical sockets and fuse boxes 1.5m above floor level

Professional advice
We strongly recommend seeking professional advice before investing in any flood protection. It is important to get an impartial flood risk mitigation assessment completed by a qualified flood risk specialist who is completely independent from any product or measure. You could contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (rics.org) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (architecture.com).

How much will it cost?
The average cost of reducing the flood risk to your property is between £6,000 and £8,000, including a survey, products and installation.

Buying products
Before you buy any product, check it’s been tested and is up to the job – it should display the BSI Kitemark or equivalent national quality standard PAS 1188.

A comprehensive list of flood resistance products and information can be found in The Blue Pages directory on the National Flood Forum’s website (bluepages.org.uk).

To find out if your property is a flood risk, visit wnstd.com/checkflood

For more information on the River Roding Project, visit wnstd.com/rrp or call 0370 850 6506


Time is money


Steve Wilks is a volunteer for the St Francis Hospice boutique in Wanstead and looks at the practical ways residents can support the charity by donating their time… or unwanted clothing.

Having had the obligatory spring clear out this year, the result was that I had accumulated bags of unwanted clothing and linen, which has been sitting in the cupboard but never seen the light of day. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to reduce clutter, and I then decided it would be better served taken to a local charity shop where someone could benefit from using it and a charity could make some money from it.

St Francis Hospice is one of the latest shops to open up on Wanstead High Street, and given its size and range of items sold, I thought it would make best use of the items to display.

St Francis Hospice is an independent charity that provides the very best in specialist care for local people with complex needs related to life-limiting illness, and inspires and educates others to support a service provided completely free of charge to patients and their families.

St Francis Hospice relies on donations from the public and sales made by volunteers in the shop to promote fundraising. They are looking for new volunteers who can spare a few hours during the day to man the till, sort out the stock of donations received daily for the shop and to present and merchandise this on the shop floor as well as answering queries.

The charity relies on the sales from its group of shops – which are located in the east London area – to fund its activities, so the more these shops can open with volunteer help, the more likely they can reach their goals. The charity’s retail outlets achieve an annual turnover of £2.4m, but the stores also help them raise awareness of the services they provide at the hospice and in the community.

I have a few hours to spare at the weekend, and having seen the advert requesting volunteers, I decided to help out on one of their busiest days. Potentially, they are looking to open on Sunday, so they are looking for more volunteers to help out then too. You can commit to as many or as few hours as you can manage. Every little helps. Full training and support will be given and a brief induction is provided.

It is a great thing to get involved with. You meet people from all walks of life who are often looking for something which they may not necessarily find elsewhere. You will also be amazed at the items that get donated, often some brand new items. So, if you are looking for a new dress or book or something to brighten up your home, pop in and see what is around. Remember, any donations are eligible for Gift Aid, which boosts proceeds even further.

The St Francis Hospice charity shop is located at 56–58 High Street, Wanstead. For more information, call shop manager Rosel Tonelli on 020 8049 7014 or visit sfh.org.uk/volunteer

Stunt suffragette


This month, professional stuntwoman and local resident Lucy Allen will be giving a presentation about the suffragette movement, partly inspired by her window-smashing work on the 2015 film Suffragette.

This month, I shall be returning to the Wanstead Park Women’s Club to give my latest talk ‘Suffragette and the Petticoat Rebellion’. I have already shared my adventures as a stuntwoman with this group and also told tales about ‘The Ship of Dreams’, the doomed liner Titanic and what it was like to work on the Oscar-winning film.

This time, I will be in window-smashing mode talking about my experiences working on the 2015 film Suffragette and telling the story of the suffragette movement in, I hope, a lively ‘Lucy-style’ way, using the actual voices from the women themselves. Last year was the centenary year of some women getting the vote, which inspired me to produce this talk.

The suffragettes hold a special place in my heart because they were so fearless and bold. My first London theatre performances were in a production of The Petticoat Rebellion when I was only 17 and a member of the National Youth Theatre. This play certainly taught me a lot about what the suffragettes went through and why they were fighting to get votes for women. Years later, to my delight, I am still performing, but these days in film and TV as a stunt performer. So, it was perfect for me when I got the call to be a ‘stunt suffragette’ in the feature film staring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and this time I got to physically smash a very large window – not as easy as you might think, as I will explain during my talk.

Of course, being a local resident (I’ve lived in Forest Gate for 19 years), I am aware that our local history includes suffragette royalty: Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst’s daughter, who lived in Woodford Green for many years. She is remembered with a blue plaque near Woodford Tube station and you may know Pankhurst Green – there is a little silver plaque there remembering her, as she lived nearby in Charteris Road.

The Wanstead Park Women’s Club welcomes all newcomers, so if you want to hear more about the suffragette movement and their brave militants, such as Emily Wilding Davidson and Constance Lytton, please join us. I will also have a small table sale of suffragette memorabilia and any profit will go to the fantastic women’s charity Womankind Worldwide, which works to empower women and girls in Africa and elsewhere. We shall start the evening singing The March of the Women, the official anthem of the Women’s Social and Political Movement. So, please come along in good voice! I hope to see you there.

Lucy’s talk will take place at Aldersbrook Bowls Club on 8 July from 8pm (visitors: £2; booking required). Call 020 8925 4875

For more information on Lucy’s talks, visit talks4groups.uk


Prickly pals

aaaaaheog© Rachel Nellist

Ahead of a family learning workshop about hedgehogs at Wanstead Library this month, Anna MacLaughlin, a nature conservation ranger for Vision RCL, explains how you can help these spiny mammals.

The humble hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of our most beloved mammals, but sadly, we’re seeing worrying declines across the nation.

Evidence shows that over the past 15 years populations have declined by nearly a third in the suburbs and cities and by over half in the countryside, with estimates suggesting there are less than one million hedgehogs left in the UK. Whilst hedgehogs are legally protected from trapping or intentional harm, the legislation does not directly deal with the key drivers of decline.

Hedgehogs face a multitude of threats across both urban and rural landscapes. They are faring poorly in the countryside due to an increasing loss of hedgerows and high levels of pesticide use in the agricultural landscape, reducing the invertebrate prey available for them to feed on. Likewise, our towns and cities present a range of challenges to hedgehogs; impermeable boundaries that restrict their movement, over-management of green spaces and gardens, entanglement in litter, fencing and netting and the increased density of road networks. It’s currently estimated that every year between 167,000 and 335,000 hedgehogs are killed on UK roads.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! Despite making up only 6% of our land, urban landscapes are proving increasingly important for wildlife. Recent analyses from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species suggest that declines of hedgehogs in urban areas may be slowing down thanks to the concerted efforts of communities. Sympathetic green space management by local authorities, businesses, schools, cemeteries and individuals mean metropolitan environments are acting as a refuge, boosting hedgehog populations.

Many threats to hedgehogs can be reduced through simple changes. Hedgehogs travel two to three kilometres per night, so need to move freely through a well-connected mosaic of habitats. You can help link areas by creating small ground-level boundary holes in fencing or walls, to allow them to find food, mates and safe areas to nest. Avoid chemicals where possible; pesticides often impact non-target species. Hedgehogs are the natural predator of many invertebrates, particularly slugs and snails, so encouraging them will actually assist with removing critters from your garden. Hedgehogs use different nests for daytime resting, breeding and hibernation, all of which are vulnerable to the human urge of ‘tidying-up’ our outdoor spaces. Let some areas grow wild, with a mixture of bramble patches, long grass, leaf piles and dead wood, and check an area over thoroughly before strimming, mowing or lighting bonfires.

Remember, what’s good for hedgehogs will have the knock-on effect of being beneficial for much of our other wildlife too.

The Hoggy Habits workshop will take place at Wanstead Library on 31 July from 11am to 12.30pm (free; booking required). Call 020 8708 7400

The Art of Essex

Thaxted-300July-Thaxted by John Tookey

‘This is Essex’ is the theme for an Essex Art Club competition, which will be judged at the group’s annual exhibition at Wanstead House this November. Mary Springham invites artists to join the historic club and enter. Image July-Thaxted by John Tookey

Essex is the theme for our special competition for members of Essex Art Club. The prize is £120 for a picture of 120 square inches, to celebrate the 120th year of the club.

We are pleased to announce the submitted works – which will be displayed at our November exhibition at Wanstead House – will be judged by Professor Ken Howard OBE, who was our club president for many years and is now our patron.

Essex Art Club has been encouraging artists and holding exhibitions since 1899, and the post of president has been held by Royal Academicians, such as Sir Alfred Munnings and Professor Howard. Sir Frank Brangwyn and Walter Spradbery were vice-presidents, as was John Nash, brother of the more famous Paul Nash. Our current president is John M Tookey, a member of the Pastel Society.

An annual exhibition has been held at Guildhall in the City of London many times and one Winston Churchill MP contributed a painting in 1950. The club did abandon the annual exhibition in 1916 due to “exceptional circumstances”.

Walter Spradbery played a significant role in the development of the William Morris Gallery as a memorial to the aspirations, achievements and fellowship of William Morris. Sir Frank Brangwyn presented a substantial gift to Walthamstow in the form of paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture, including pieces by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Brangwyn’s own work included large murals depicting the British Empire, which are still held in the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea.

Ken Howard says painting should be about “celebration, communication and revelation“, and with that in mind, we offer members a varied programme of demonstrations, talks, painting sessions, three exhibitions a year and a regular newsletter. We welcome new members.

The deadline for entry to the Essex-themed competition is 30 September. For more information about Essex Art Club and the competition, call 020 8504 0584 or visit essexartclub.co.uk 

Hogarth & Wanstead


Jef Page, president of the Ilford Historical Society, will be talking about William Hogarth’s painting The Assembly at Wanstead House at an event organised by Redbridge Heritage Centre this month.

In April 1728, Lord Castlemaine – Sir Richard Child (1680–1750) – wanted to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Dorothy (nee Glynne). Nothing too grandiose, he chose a tea and card party held in the ballroom of his sumptuous palace: Wanstead House. To mark the occasion, he decided to record it by having an up-and-coming artist record the event.

Twenty-five years earlier, to record his betrothal, he paid for portraits of his wife (sadly, sold on before I had a chance to see them) and himself. Looking resplendent in full-bottomed wig and bright-blue silk gown, he looks self-assured. Those paintings were completed by an unknown artist in the circle of famous painter Michael Dahl. But in 1728 he was too old and Lord Castlemaine decided on a young man who was just starting his career: William Hogarth (1697–1764).

The house was completely rebuilt 1715–1722 by Colen Campbell in the new classical style and its palatial grandeur must have impressed everyone. Hogarth’s painting makes the room appear small but in reality the ballroom must have been massive. The furnishings were opulent: the carpet Turkish, tapestries from Belgium, the chandelier, which a servant lights, was massive and the room’s decor was later finished by William Kent, much to Hogarth’s annoyance. But why isn’t Dorothy seated beside Richard – far right, dignified in a red coat? She looks over her shoulder towards him holding up a top card for a winning marriage: the ace of spades. In the centre, the family and guests are playing an unidentified card game, whilst everyone else stands around wondering when they will get a chance to sit down and play. One woman in black is only seen in silhouette, whilst another, far left, at the back, is completely turned around – a real cheat. Another woman standing beside the massive fireplace fans a pack of cards – really bored and fed up. Twenty-five figures in total.

Hogarth was painting in a new style, creating a ‘conversation piece’ where the figures don’t engage with each other. But why did it take three years to complete his first top commission? He may have been distracted by his elopement and marriage to Jane Thornhill in 1728 or perhaps Castlemaine was slow in paying up, so William delayed finishing the work. We know from X-rays that Hogarth repainted Dorothy’s face to make her look younger. Of the young children, far left, the boy beside the most poorly painted dog ever seems to lean on a chair and it’s very dark and sketchy. Did Hogarth stay at Wanstead House to view the furnishings or just visit? We’ll never know.

Jef’s talk will take place at Wanstead Library on 17 July from 2pm to 3pm (free; booking required). Visit wnstd.com/hog

6,5,4,3,2,1… read

aRASRC19_027© Dave Warren 2019 for The Reading Agency, with thanks to Pancras Square Library

Library Development Officer Christine Thompson invites Wanstead’s children to take part in a space-themed reading challenge this summer and read six library books over the holidays.

The Reading Agency’s annual Summer Reading Challenge is aimed at children aged four to 12 years and helps get almost three quarters of a million children into libraries to boost their reading skills and confidence.

Children’s reading can ‘dip’ during the summer holidays if they don’t have regular access to books and encouragement to pick them up.

In 2019, children across the UK will be able to take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, entitled Space Chase, an out-of-this-world adventure inspired by the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. It is also the 20th anniversary of the annual reading challenge itself. Children taking part will join our super space family, the Rockets, for a thrilling mission to track down books nabbed by mischievous aliens. There will be loads of fun, loads of prizes and, of course, a medal for each child who completes the challenge. Visit the new Eat It exhibition by Redbridge Museum to gain an extra sticker.

This year’s theme will feature bespoke artwork from top children’s illustrator Adam Stower, and will celebrate adventure, exploration, reading and fun. Taking part is easy. The aim of the challenge is for children to read any six library books of their own choice during the summer holiday. Children can read whatever they like – fiction, fact books, poetry, joke books, picture books, audio books or even eBooks – just as long as they are borrowed from the library. The scheme promises to encourage reading that is out of this world.

A number of events will be taking place at Wanstead Library alongside the challenge, including alien slime-making, space lab detectives, professional storytelling from John Kirk and snack attack, a healthy eating event. This year there will also be a junior book reviewer competition for seven- to 10-year-olds taking place in partnership with Thy English Academy. Pick up your review sheet at the library.

Younger children who are not yet reading can earn stickers and a certificate of their own for visiting the library and borrowing books throughout the summer.

Library staff, with the support of teenage and adult volunteers, will be on hand to listen to children read and to help them discover new authors and explore a wide range of different types of books.

Summer Reading Challenge 2019 runs from 13 July to 7 September. Participants can sign up anytime (free). For more information, visit wnstd.com/src19

To apply to be a Summer Reading Challenge volunteer, visit wnstd.com/vol


St Mary’s story

(A)-DSC_2188-St-Marys,-Wanstead-2© Geoff Wilkinson

A series of talks will take place at St Mary’s Church this month exploring the building’s history. Canon Professor Mark Chapman, Professor of the History of Modern Theology at Oxford University, is one of the speakers.

In the middle of the 19th century church architecture was big business – there was a wholesale rebuilding of medieval buildings and many celebrity architects. Only about a hundred churches were left untouched by the Victorians. Our ideas of what a church should look like come from their rather vivid re-imagination of the Middle Ages.

When the Victorians built or ‘restored’ church buildings they had a particular set of ideas they wanted to put into practice: almost always they used Gothic forms, which they felt were properly ‘Christian’ (rather than pagan) and they tended to emphasise ritual, symbolism and colour. This was quite different from earlier church layouts in the Church of England, which emphasised preaching and offered few distractions to the eye. Victorian architecture is just one aspect of a bold and confident social vision, a way of trying to rejuvenate a past with the church at the centre. Nearly all the architects of the Victorian period were deeply conservative and feared the disintegration of society that would come from industrialisation and the rise of cities. Their vision was one in which everybody fitted into the social fabric and would be cared for.

But their predecessors were often very different: churches were built without too much recourse to the past – the forms were functional rather than historical. A church was first and foremost a fitting place for a sermon to be preached so everybody could see and hear. Its ideal form was determined by the practicalities of acoustics and visibility. St Mary’s stands well within that tradition: it might be a very unusual building because it was built during a time of conflict, but it stands in a tradition that reached its climax with the flurry of church building after the Battle of Waterloo. Large numbers of new church buildings were constructed with the aim of ensuring the growing population in the cities might have somewhere to sit and hear the teachings of the Established Church to ensure greater social stability in the era of the Peterloo massacre and political unrest.

In Wanstead there are fine examples of these two very different types of church – the one a Victorian recreation of something medieval and the other modelled on a Greek or Roman public building. Both were originally expressions of the mission of a church which was deeply embedded in the wider society.

We are always left with the same questions as our predecessors. How is our architecture related to the mission of the church and its relationship to the world? And that requires thinking, not about buildings, but about mission and what on earth the church is for in our post-Christian society.

Professor Mark Chapman will be joined by architect Niall McLaughlin and building conservationist Ian Angus for the talks at St Mary’s Church, Overton Drive, Wanstead on 10 July from 7pm to 9pm (free; all welcome). Visit wansteadparish.org

Old enough to…


In the first of a series of articles looking at Age UK RBH’s Allan Burgess Wanstead Activity Centre, manager Jackie Balman outlines a week of workouts and classes and invites anyone over 55 to pop in.

Hello, my name is Jackie Balman and I manage the Allan Burgess Activity Centre in Wanstead for Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering (RBH). The centre is located on the corner of Grove Park and Wanstead High Street. We are open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays for coffee. In this article, I would like to give you some idea of what we offer here at the centre. For Redbridge residents over 55, this place is an absolute must!

The activities we offer for a small charge will help to keep you active both physically and mentally. Mondays are all about exercise: there are two Zumba classes and a chair-based yoga class. Tuesdays offer a wide variety of classes: craft group, hourly computer classes, an art class, bridge club, card and board games and clay modelling as well as more chair yoga and Zumba. Wednesdays are a little quieter with our knitting club, book club (monthly) and hourly computer classes, plus another exercise class! Thursdays offer our long-established art class plus chair-based Yoga. And Fridays offer morning and afternoon chair exercise classes.

We also provide a nutritious lunch, cooked from fresh ingredients on the premises, and snacks and refreshments throughout the day. We offer cooked two-course lunches for the cost of £5 Monday to Thursdays, and a truly wonderful roast dinner on Fridays for £5.50. We can provide vegetarian, fish and other options for people with dietary requirements. The centre offers disability access and fully accessible toilets.

Of course, you don’t have to do an activity or indeed have a lunch to come to the centre; you can just pop in for a cup of tea or coffee, read the papers, socialise and engage with other like-minded service users and volunteers.

You can also just pop in if you have any questions about things that may be causing you concern or that you may be anxious about and don’t know where to look for advice. A very big part of our service is to provide you with information or signpost you on to other organisations within the borough that will help.

For me, personally, the centre offers something extra to all the above. We want everyone who comes in to find caring, safety, warmth, friendship, fun, humour, companionship and a reason to lift your spirits, all enveloped in a welcoming atmosphere. I have seen many service users living with depression, anxiety and loneliness start to turn their lives around just from spending time at the centre. So, I would ask you all to come along and try us out. I look forward to seeing you soon!

The Allan Burgess Activity Centre is located at 2 Grove Park, Wanstead, E11 2DL. For more information about times and available spaces, call 020 8989 6338 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk