October 2019


Greatest Briton


Sir Winston Churchill was a world leader, statesman and local MP. Ahead of a talk at Wanstead Library about the iconic politician, Jef Page, president of the Ilford Historical Society, reviews the life of a man he believes was the ‘greatest Briton of all’

Winston Spencer Churchill (1874–1965) was a larger-than-life character, lucky to be born in Blenheim Palace with a massive silver spoon in his mouth, son of the beautiful American heiress Jennie Jerome (he worshipped her) and Lord Randolph Churchill.

Winston attracted both tragedy and attention – hardly surprising as he liked smoking massive seven-inch long Cuban Havana cigars and stuck up a V-sign second to none.

From being reviled in Tonypandy, South Wales where, as Liberal Home Secretary, he sent troops onto the streets during the miner’s strike (1910–1911) and promoted the disastrous Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign in 1915, he led Britain to victory and triumph in 1945. He almost seemed to like war. He fought at the battle of Omdurman (1898), as a journalist was at Spion Kop (1900; as was Gandhi) and escaped from a prisoner of war camp during the Boer War. And he got himself onto the front line of the Western Front during the First World War. A world-renowned statesman, when asked what his favourite period of his long life was, he immediately replied without hesitation: “1940,” when Britain stood alone during the Second World War and he became Prime Minister. He said history would be kind to him – because he would write it – and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was bumptious, pushy, an adept ‘string-puller’. Lord Beaverbrook (Max Aitken, owner of the Daily Express) said of Winston that on the crest of a wave he had the makings of a dictator.

John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, more recently questioned Churchill’s status as a hero following a 2002 BBC poll in which he had been voted the greatest Briton of all.

Wanstead and Woodford’s MP from 1924 to 1964, just months before his death aged 90, a skilful artist and bricklayer, he suffered periods of “black dog” depression. Out of office, depressed and mistrusted by the Conservative Party (Winston had been Home Secretary and a member of the Liberal Party from 1904 to 1924), he was considered a political adventurer. His cavalier attitude to party loyalty during the 1930s left him isolated and his was a lone voice against the rise of Fascism, Hitler and the Nazis. So, when in 1939 he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, they sent out just a two-word telegram to all ships: “He’s back”. He had changed sides from the Liberals to Conservative, winning the seat of Epping in 1924. But in Britain’s darkest hour in 1940, after the failure of Neville Chamberlain, Churchill was the only man the Labour Party, led by Clement Atlee (he lived on Monkhams Avenue, Woodford from 1921 to 1931), would serve under in the wartime coalition cabinet and government. Yet, this success didn’t stop Winston being immediately voted out of office as soon as the war was won, though he did return again as prime minister in 1951.

Churchill didn’t visit the constituency much and he didn’t have a home in the borough. However, he got on well with Conservative politician and businessman Sir James Hawkey (1877–1952) and in 1955 it was Churchill who came here to open the hall named after Hawkey (Winston laid a foundation brick in 1954). Hawkey was chairman of Woodford Urban District Council (UDC) from 1916 to 1934 and the newly merged Wanstead and Woodford UDC from 1934 to 1937, and later three-times mayor.

During the war years (1939–1945), it was his wife Clementine who really nursed the constituency. Winston said “my most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me”. Clementine nursed him through his “black dog” periods, helped the PDSA to care for animals in Woodford during the war, attended many fetes, balls and constituency meetings, especially during the Blitz, and in 1951 opened the door to the 1,000th new house built in the borough.

Churchill’s statue on Woodford Green was unveiled in 1959 by Viscount Montgomery. Was Churchill worthy of his number one spot as the ‘Greatest Briton’? Definitely!

Jef’s talk – which has been organised by Vision RCL – will take place at Wanstead Library on 13 November from 2pm to 3pm (free). For more information, call 020 8708 7400

Guide Dog Training School seeks temporary homes for its students


The Guide Dog Training School in Woodford Bridge is seeking local residents to become volunteer ‘boarders’ and give a temporary home to one of their dogs while it is being trained.

“The dogs live with their boarders for varying periods from seven days to seven months,” said a spokesperson for the centre, which pays for all expenses during the stay. Volunteers must be able to bring their dog to the school between 7am and 9am each morning and collect it between 4.30pm and 7pm.

Email redbridge@guidedogs.org.uk


More powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in and around Wanstead


Powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the west of the borough have been extended after residents overwhelmingly supported Redbridge Council’s proposals to update a Public Space Protection Order for the area.

The new order includes additional restrictions, including begging, public urination, loitering and spitting.

“Public concern prompted a consultation with residents, which received 1,693 responses with an overwhelming majority in favour of all the restrictions,” said a council spokesperson.


Old enough to…

Hallowe'en-group-picAlexandra Wilde and the Redbridge Rhymesters with children from Snaresbrook Primary School

In the fourth of a series of articles looking at the work of Age UK Redbridge, Barking & Havering, Janet West looks back at a week of activities that marked Older People’s Day

From 30 September to 6 October, Redbridge celebrated Older People’s Day by putting on activities throughout the week. Older people had the opportunity to pick up lots of information on a whole variety of topics. There was a safety themed day at Central Library in Ilford with presentations from the Fire Service, the Bogus Caller Partnership, Trading Standards, Safer Transport and the Old Protectors. Throughout the week, Redbridge Vision offered free places on several of their exercise classes from rowing to Nordic walking.

Central Library also hosted Silver Tuesday, with laughing yoga, a talk by Jeff Page about leisure history and a very enjoyable interactive songs and stories session by local resident Jane Grell.

Meanwhile, Wanstead’s Allan Burgess Centre was also busy with events. Redbridge Music Lounge popped in for a singalong session with service users on Monday and another fabulous poets’ corner took place on Tuesday, led by Alexandra Wilde of the Redbridge Rhymesters and accompanied by children from Snaresbrook Primary School. Alexandra holds these sessions on a regular basis at the centre.

On Wednesday, the centre held a celebratory lunch attended by the mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Zulfigar Hussain. The mayor got to see what the centre has to offer for older people, with its freshly cooked lunches and many activities on offer throughout the week. More importantly, it offers the opportunity to socialise, make friends and have a good chat over a cuppa, with many of the service users stating this is the biggest benefit to them as it helps to reduce loneliness and isolation.

On Thursday, while the Allan Burgess Centre held a quiz for its visitors, Age UK Redbridge, Barking & Havering organised a health and wellbeing event at Wanstead Library. There was an array of organisations taking part, offering free reflexology and health checks. Advice was on hand for anyone who needed it following their check-up. There was also reiki and pranic healing; an art table staffed by a student from the Relax and Create class run by Brenda Coyle; chair yoga and chair exercise sessions; hydration and nutrition information from London Borough of Redbridge Community Lunch service and even a free tombola.

Here at Age UK, we celebrate our local older people every day, but we look forward to another week of special activities in 2020.

For more information on Age UK Redbridge, Barking & Havering, call 020 8989 6338 or visit wnstd.com/ageuk

Future for Whipps

Whipps Cross Hospital

In the third of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Wanstead resident Charlotte Monro explains why campaigning must continue, despite government funding confirmation

At a public meeting on 15 October, Barts Health Trust presented their current proposals for the new hospital and the other developments on the Whipps Cross site. There was intense interest from the 200 people attending, with pertinent and searching questions asked, and discussions continued as the meeting was breaking up.

Whipps is one of the six hospital developments the government has announced will benefit from a share of a £2.7bn funding allocation. A letter has been received from the Secretary of State for Health confirming government support for a ‘brand new hospital’. “We don’t know how much yet,” said Alastair Finney, Director for Whipps Cross Redevelopment, but the total divided by six gives £450m. Not nearly sufficient for a new-build hospital, he added, so the campaign needs to continue (please sign our petition!). At the meeting, we heard the reworked proposals for the strategic outline case:

A hospital of similar total size as the current one but compacted to a smaller footprint (about a fifth), between eight and 12 storeys high, with A&E, maternity and core services.

Fewer beds, apart from more in critical care and maternity, and more space for day surgery, including for children. The rationale for this, despite a growing population, is based on hospital and primary care clinician working groups’ vision of models of care.

Becoming a specialist centre for the treatment of frail older people, including residents from Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Some community or social care facilities next to the hospital.

Much of the site to be disposed of for housing and community amenities, with up to 1,700 new homes envisaged.

No commitment to sustainable building and energy design was evident.

“I fear you may be overestimating how much your plans will reduce the need for hospital beds,” said the final questioner to applause. No evidence has been presented as to how far their proposed model of care closer to home can or will reduce the need for hospital admissions, or the resources needed for this. Without additional beds, the future in reality will be a cut, and a new hospital under as much pressure as now, or more.

This is our hospital. Our say in it has to be real. This will only happen by our action. The next two months will be critical as the revised outline business case will be resubmitted at the end of the year, which includes the total capital needed. The new hospital must be based on need, not the funding on offer.

Let’s make it happen.

For information on the future of Whipps Cross Hospital, visit wnstd.com/whipps

To view the petition, visit wnstd.com/wxp


Wanstead Flats music festival plans for 2020 withdrawn


Plans to run a three-day music festival on Wanstead Flats in September 2020 have been withdrawn by organisers MAMA Festivals.

The event – which would have been attended by up to 50,000 people – had already received approval from the City of London Corporation.

“This will come as welcome relief to residents who were concerned about the impact of the proposed festival on their neighbourhoods as well as the environmental damage it was likely to cause to this area of nature conservation,” said Councillor Sheila Bain.


Wanstead Park’s historic Temple remains open as usual despite ongoing repairs

temple-1©Richard Arnopp

Repairs taking place at Wanstead Park’s historic Temple are set to continue.

“As well as painting, the contractors have carried out repairs to the columns and tympanum and repointed brickwork. But additional problems have been found, and the work will take longer than expected,” said the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

The work follows recent refurbishment of the toilets, which were in poor condition. CCTV has also been installed outside the building to deter vandalism and misuse.

The Temple was built around 1760 by John, 2nd Earl Tylney of Castlemaine and originally housed a menagerie. It has since been used as accommodation for keepers and is now a visitor centre, open on the first full weekend of every month from 10am to 3pm.

Call 020 7332 1911


Wanstead cricketers prepare to compete in Masters World Series

ccteamThe team heading to Cape Town

Four members of Wanstead Cricket Club’s women’s team will be representing England in the Indoor Cricket Masters World Series in South Africa next week.

Saba Nasim, Natasha Bourke, Nanette Kritzinger and Jen Liu will be in Cape Town for the tournament, which runs from 19 to 26 October.

“I am thrilled to be chosen to represent England in the indoor World Cup in Cape Town. I first started playing the indoor game in 2014 and it was a fun experience. The skills needed are different as it is fast paced and everyone has a part to play as each player has to bowl and bat in each game. I have learnt a lot about my indoor game this past year training with the more experienced players.
Hopefully we can do well and bring home the trophy! I know everyone has worked very hard and we have come together really nicely throughout our training days in Birmingham. I’m really looking forward to it!” said Saba, who captains the Wanstead team.



Practising qi gong promotes positivity, wellness and a balance in life, says Mina Wolton, who offers classes in the ancient mind-body-spirit system at Wanstead House

My name is Mina and I have lived in Wanstead for nearly 25 years. I am a qi gong practitioner and have recently started teaching classes at Wanstead House Community centre.

I have always been interested in health and wellbeing and played sports all my life. However, ill health in my thirties led me to exploring complementary therapies, particularly qi gong. What they all had in common was working with a life force and being able to tap into that energy to energise, heal and create harmony within.

Qi gong, which was documented in China over 2,000 years ago, has become popular throughout the world for its many health-giving benefits. Qi (pronounced ‘chi’) is the Chinese word for life force or energy (also known as ‘ki’ or ‘prana’).

Nature is infused with qi, which is why when we are by the sea, near mountains, in forests, gardens or just looking at clouds floating in the sky, we experience qi at a deep level and feel the restorative power of that energy field in nature.

Gong (or ‘kung’) means ‘work’ or ‘effort’, so qi gong is the cultivation of that qi through practice and dedication and learning how to direct its energy. It consists of static and flowing movements, which are coordinated with breathing to circulate and direct qi around the meridians (energy pathways) of the body.

Just some of the many benefits of regular qi gong practice include relaxation, boosting the immune system, strengthening the body and a sense of wellbeing. The exercises are performed with a certain amount of tension but, paradoxically, in a relaxed way, and are suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness.

What I have discovered through my 20 years of learning qi gong under Sifu Ram, my qi gong master, is that it is incredibly empowering. I have learnt to take personal responsibility for my health.

You learn to emulate the crane (the animal that symbolises our style of qi gong), so we learn grace, strength and fluidity, which then becomes a metaphor for how to approach life.

In a small, confined space in around 15 to 20 minutes (as a required minimum) per day, you can do a series of exercises to promote a sense of positivity, wellness and balance in life.

Mina runs monthly qi gong taster sessions starting on the first Monday of the month at Wanstead House, 21 The Green, Wanstead (four sessions: £35). For more information and to book a place, call 07970 988 354 or email mpwolton@yahoo.co.uk

Inspired diabetic


As part of Black History Month events taking place locally in October, chef Lyndon Wissart will be explaining how he managed to cure his Type 2 diabetes in 105 days… without medication

My name is Lyndon Wissart and I am from London. I have recently undertaken a journey, which has involved tackling and overcoming struggles with my health.

In 2015 I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, with indications that I was in a danger zone with the symptoms involved. Since then I have managed to cure myself of diabetes without medication. I have also written a book called The Inspired Diabetic, which details my experience in the hope I can help others with the same condition.

Though my parents are of Jamaican heritage, I am originally from London, and have been trained as a professional chef with 30 years of experience under my apron in restaurants and hotels around the capital. According to current statistics, people from a BAME background have a greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes (people of African-Caribbean decent are three times more likely).

It has become an increasingly undeniable truth that the diabetes epidemic affects people globally and the fact that these unfortunate circumstances can be changed – and even rectified – with adjustments to diet and lifestyle makes this an essential subject to address, which is what I have tried to do by writing my story, charting the steps I took to reverse my own blood sugar levels.

The Inspired Diabetic is a book about lifestyle, nutrition, fitness, exercise and, of course, diabetes. I believe my story will be of interest to many, with diabetes affecting over 400 million people worldwide.

Changes in lifestyle and diet means diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases on the planet. It is also the subject of growing media interest as journalists become aware of the scale of the disease.

Here follows my blood sugar level-reversing journey, which is amazing. This was all done naturally, without medication. As a general guide, haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels of less than or equal to 40 mmol/mol is normal.

  • October 2015: HbA1c level: 92 mmol/mol
  • November 2015: HbA1c level: 77 mmol/mol
  • December 2015: HbA1c level: 60 mmol/mol
  • 1 February 2016: HbA1c level: 41 mmol/mol
  • 29 February 2016: HbA1c level: 39 mmol/mol
  • 8 June 2016: HbA1c level: 38 mmol/mol
  • 19 October 2016: HbA1c level: 36 mmol/mol

Lyndon will be discussing his book at Wanstead Library on 15 and 24 October from 5.30pm to 8pm (tickets: £5). To book, visit wnstd.com/libevents

For more information, visit wnstd.com/lw


Anti-Semitism: discuss

dr-1David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg is a lifelong campaigner against fascism and racism, and at this month’s East London Humanists meeting, he will be giving his perspective on the scourge of anti-Semitism and inviting discussion.

After the horrors of the Holocaust were exposed to the world, most people thought it inconceivable that anti-Semitism could surface again in any serious form, but anti-Semitism has proven to be a light sleeper in Britain. And while abuse and attacks targeting Muslims and refugees are more commonplace, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain in recent years has begun to rise. It has rarely been absent from the headlines, not just because of the reported incidents, but because it has become a political football.

I grew up as a Jew in inner London, then later in Ilford. From around 16 years old, I became an anti-racist activist. I instinctively associated British anti-Semitism with the political right and far right. In 2011 I published a book called Battle for the East End, which focused on Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, a fundamentally anti-Semitic movement that built 500 branches around the country in the 1930s, and won adherents among all classes to its poisonous ideology. In the more mainstream right wing, I was aware it was a Conservative government that passed Britain‘s first modern immigration law – the Aliens Act – which was directed overwhelmingly against Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. Fortunately, my grandparents were able to get in.

Several decades later – in the 1980s – when Mrs Thatcher appointed three Jews to her cabinet, I remember former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan lamenting the fact her Cabinet now contained too many “old Estonians” and too few old Etonians.

But much of the media coverage has centred on allegations against the Labour Party – the party that introduced legislation about equalities – and specifically against Jeremy Corbyn. I was active in the Labour Party for a few years in the 1980s, and rejoined in 2015 when Corbyn stood for the leadership. I knew very well how strong his commitment was to supporting minorities and at first the allegations struck me as bizarre (and they still do), but there is no doubt that this perception has come to be believed by significant numbers of Jews, and we need to understand that. Corbyn is well known too for being a strong advocate of justice for Palestinians. Somewhere along the line, attitudes to Jews, on the one hand, and attitudes towards Israeli nationalism and Israeli government policies on the other, have become blurred in an unhelpful way. Under considerable pressure, the Labour Party adopted what is known as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, with a set of associated examples, though the examples are controversial and the actual breadth of this alliance is certainly open to question.

This is just some of the history and some of the issues I look forward to unpicking. I hope you will come and unpick them with me!

David’s talk will take place at Wanstead Library on 28 October from 7.30pm (free; visitors welcome). Visit wnstd.com/elh