October 2019


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

Restoring Wanstead Park

IMG_5866-7©Richard Arnopp

In the fifth of a series of articles looking at the developing plans for restoring Wanstead Park, Richard Arnopp from the Friends of Wanstead Parklands brings us up to date on hopes to resolve the problems with the park’s lakes

The lakes in Wanstead Park are the most visible remaining features of its past as one of this country’s great landscaped gardens. All completely artificial, they are now nearly 300 years old, and for most of their history have suffered from fluctuating water levels.

As the Friends have described in previous articles, this has been due to several factors:

  1. The failure of systems designed to supply water to the lakes from outside the park.
  2. The loss of much of the natural catchment area to development since 1900.
  3. The introduction of modern drainage systems and other services around the park, which has lowered the water table and created leak paths.
  4. The loss of the River Roding as a source for the Ornamental Water.
  5. The unfavourable geology on which much of the lake system sits.
  6. The lack of effective lining, or its deterioration beyond repair, in two of the most vulnerable lakes, compounded – in one case – by wartime damage.

Wanstead Park was listed as a Grade II* landscape “of special interest” by English Heritage (now Historic England) in 2001, following an earlier Grade II designation in 1987. Since 2009 it has been classed as “At Risk” on account of its deteriorating condition. The state of the lakes was a major factor in this.

For more than a decade, the Friends of Wanstead Parklands has been working with the park’s guardians, in particular the City of London, to identify long-term solutions to the problems with the lakes. In 2013 a Wanstead Park Project Steering Committee was set up, involving all major stakeholders, to try to develop an achievable and sustainable plan for the restoration and future management of the park. Under its auspices, the consultancy LDA Design was engaged, and produced a draft Parkland Plan which has gone through several drafts as the knowledge base has developed, circumstances have changed and costs have been clarified. The latest draft proposes three themed work packages. Two of the packages are framed to meet the objective of getting Wanstead Park off the “At Risk” register. These would require a substantial capital funding package involving a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We hope to be in a position to publish details of the finalised Parkland Plan shortly.

The City commissioned a hydrological survey from JBA Consulting which provided a much clearer understanding of the way the lake system works. However, the whole project was galvanised by a development in a quite different quarter. Under the requirements of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, the Environment Agency confirmed in December 2017 that the lakes in Wanstead Park, which were classified as “Large Raised Reservoirs”, should be raised to “High Risk” status, as an uncontrolled release of water in a major flood event could, in theory, put people’s lives at risk. It should be emphasised that this was not a cause for panic or a criticism of the way the lakes had been maintained, but an almost automatic consequence of the way the new regulations now dealt with lake cascades of this type.

The City of London’s response was to arrange an inspection by the independent civil engineer who monitors the management of reservoirs. He advised that an engineering assessment of the dams needed to be undertaken in the first instance, as it was likely they would need to be strengthened, perhaps raised, and provided with new spillways. The engineering assessment has now been commissioned and should be completed by the end of 2019. It is anticipated the modifications required could cost up to £10 million, based on what has been spent on a similar project on Hampstead Heath.

As far as the City of London is concerned, a bill of this size is not good news, but potentially presents an opportunity for Wanstead Park. This was because spending to strengthen the dams would come from central, rather than Epping Forest, budgets, and it would make sense to carry out other improvements and repairs to the lakes at the same time. Any non-statutory element of the work could potentially be used as match funding for a parallel bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. A grant from that quarter could be used to cover a range of non-water-related improvements to the park, and potentially offer the prospect of covering more ground on a shorter timescale than had ever been contemplated, albeit perhaps with a rather later starting date than previously hoped.

Given the likely deadline for the completion of works on the lakes, timings for a lottery bid would be very tight if any of the spending was to be used as match funding. This is a once and for all opportunity which must be got right!

Similar projects in Highams Park and Hampstead Heath have brought big improvements, including in aesthetic terms. The work will inevitably be disruptive, but the City of London intends to plan and carry it out carefully, taking into account local concerns.

Watch this space!

For more information on Wanstead Park, visit wansteadpark.org.uk

Listen and learn: Manu Brazo


In the 18th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces us to Spanish saxophonist Manu Brazo, who will be performing at Wanstead Library this month.

The current aims of Redbridge Music Society are to promote and support talented young musicians in the early years of their careers and to provide a diverse range of musical genres to the Redbridge public. This month, outstanding young saxophonist Manu Brazo, together with award-winning piano accompanist Bryan Evans MBE, will perform music by Vaughan Williams, Verdi (Traviata Fantasy), de Falla, Gershwin and others.

Twenty-six-year-old Manu Brazo was born in Utrera (Seville). After completing his undergraduate studies under Juan Jimenez at the Manuel Castillo Conservatory of Music in Seville, he continued his studies at London’s Royal College of Music (RCM) for a Masters in Performance degree. He made his concerto debut in the UK with the Guildford Symphony Orchestra in 2016, playing the Glazunov Saxophone Concerto, and since then has performed with a number of orchestras, including the London City Orchestra.

Manu has won many awards and prizes, including the 2016 Manuel Castillo Conservatory Concerto Competition. He was invited to join the London Sinfonietta Academy and to collaborate with the Youth Musician Symphony Orchestra (YMSO). In 2018 he was selected to take part in the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, which saw him perform at the Snape Maltings Proms conducted by Marin Alsop. He was chosen for the Tillett Trust Young Artists Platform for 2018/19 and is currently a Philip and Dorothy Green 2019/20 Young Artists Award holder – an award given by Making Music to celebrate the best of the UK’s young musical talent.

Manu has performed at notable venues in the UK, including the Royal Opera House, and has played in Norway, Greece, Spain and Indonesia. He recently performed with Bryan Evans as the opening act for Sir Cliff Richard at the Greenwich Music Time Festival. He also opened at the official Downton Abbey live concert at Highclere Castle.

Accompanist Bryan Evans studied at RCM and whilst there won all the accompanist prizes. He has performed at major UK venues, including London’s Wigmore Hall, and in many countries across the world. He has performed on BBC Radio 3 and TV and is a leading exponent of performing chamber opera from the piano and is currently music director of Diva Opera. In 1993 he was awarded an MBE for his services to music.

The partnership of two such outstanding musicians promises to make Redbridge Music Society’s opening recital of its 2019/20 season a very memorable event.

Manu and Bryan will perform at Wanstead Library on 29 October from 8pm (tickets on the door: £10; members: £7). For more information, call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure and is affiliated to Making Music.

In Love with the Past

1858202903_d7b8cb65a2_oAftermath of the Blitz, 1940

Join prizewinning author Jean Fullerton at Wanstead Library this month as she discusses her latest novel A Ration Book Childhood, which explores a dangerous secret, set in the darkest days of the Blitz.

Hello everyone, and for those of you who don’t know me or my books, I’m Jean Fullerton, an award-winning, bestselling author of 15 historical novels.

I’m also a native East Ender, born and bred in Stepney where my family have lived since the 1830s. Unsurprisingly, all my novels are set in the overcrowded and boisterous streets around the London Docks. I believe my background gives me a unique home-grown perspective into the history and culture of the old riverside communities.

I first fell in love with history at school when I read Anya Seton’s book Katherine. Since then I have read everything I can about English history but I am particularly fascinated by the 18th and 19th centuries and my books are set in this period. I just love my native city, and the East End in particular, which is why I write stories to bring that vibrant area of London alive.

My first series introducing the Nolan family spanned the 1830s and 1840s, after which I jumped forward to the lean, post-war years of the late 1940s for my east London district nurse series featuring nurses Millie and Connie.

My current Ration Book series follows the Brogan family as they battle Hitler and each other during the dark days of World War Two.  The first three books in the series, A Pocketful of Dreams, A Ration Book Christmas and A Ration Book Childhood are already released, and A Ration Book Wedding will follow in May 2020. I’m currently working on A Ration Book Daughter scheduled for release in May 2021.   

But writing a book is only one side of the coin; having someone read and enjoy it is the other. When I’m not worrying over the plot and creating characters you fall in love with, hold your breath for and shed a tear over, I love getting out and about meeting readers.

I do this in a variety of places by giving talks on my life, historical talks based on the research I’ve undertaken for my novels in libraries, Women’s Institutes, U3As and other organisations, and even on cruise ships. Yes, I know it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Readers are everything. Without them, my stories are just paper and ink. As I already said, I love meeting readers and explaining how I craft the ideas rattling around in my head into a cracking 400-page novel. With that in mind, I look forward to meeting all you lovely Wanstead readers this month.

Jean’s talk will take place at Wanstead Library on 24 October from 6.30pm to 7.45pm (free; booking required). Visit wnstd.com/fullerton

For more information about Jean’s work, visit jeanfullerton.com


The biggest and best

IMG_20190907_170904_resized_20190916_042011108Donna Mizzi joins cow creator Karen Humpage (right). Arnold the cow collected almost £120 for Compassion in World Farming

One of our aims has been to make art more accessible. It’s a form of communication. If we’ve helped more local people enjoy art, that’s an important achievement, says Donna Mizzi, Art Trail Wanstead founder.

“For some reason, there’s art everywhere on the High Street!” “Gosh, there must be a helluva lot of artists living in Wanstead.” “What’s that cow doing in Majestic Wine Warehouse?”

These were just a few of the comments overheard during September’s Art Trail Wanstead. This trail has been the biggest and best in its 10 years, according to many visitors and artists. Almost 80 venues participated in the free 16-day event organised by Art Group Wanstead volunteers. Some small shops showed a few samples while larger businesses accommodated work by several artists. Florist Lillies of Wanstead even gave over its whole front window to flower art by delighted Leila Skye, while trail supporter The Stow Brothers used its window and walls to showcase the event. About 150 amateur and professional artists took part, and at least the same number of school children. In addition, 142 art postcards went on display, most created by local residents.

Children from Wanstead Church School and Aldersbrook Primary made hundreds of clocks for the event’s Time theme, many of which were displayed outside the Corner House. Other works ranged from paintings to photography, from pottery and jewellery to mosaic work, and varied in scale from tiny masterpieces in a miniature gallery to Karen Humpage’s huge papier-mâché cow.

Then there was the Wanstead Festival with stalls from designer makers and artists, and a wide range of free workshops. Snaresbrook Primary School produced seasonal trees to embellish and later show at the school as part of Victoria Senett and Emma English’s recycling workshop. Marsh Quilters demonstrated their colourful and intricate craft and ran popular workshops. Alison Stenhouse and Sally Asbury helped children make marine-scene artworks to draw attention to the Sea-Changers charity, while Eugene Coyle encouraged postcard designing and paper-plate clock making by children. He also sold contributed postcards for charity.

But the giant trail workshop, which invariably attracts the biggest participation, was the Lego “Build” attraction organised by Adult Fans of Lego. “We had more than 200 separate models made by our artist children (and a few parents!) on display all day,” said exhausted – but happy – co-ordinator Lee McGinty.

Meanwhile, other work provoked discussions. A photographic work by psychotherapist and artist Victoria Baskerville at The Duke showed phones obscuring the callers’ faces. Victoria explained: “We could argue that mobile phones have bought more connectedness through social media, but at the same time moved us away from ‘being in the moment’, connecting and being truly in relationship with each other.”


Celebrating culture

Lucinda-ImageLucinda Dickens Hawksley

Fabula Festival – Redbridge Libraries’ biggest cultural event of the year – is back this autumn and promises to delight residents with a jam-packed programme. Anita Luby reports

Fabula Festival (2 to 13 October) is a celebration of the arts and libraries and their power to transform lives. It’s delivered through a programme of performances, children’s events, author talks, films, writing programmes, workshops and arts projects. It gives residents the opportunity to participate in a range of new and exciting activities delivered by a range of local and national organisations, showcasing the very best in literature, music, drama, dance, film, art and technology.

Festival highlights include an evening with author Lucinda Dickens Hawksley at Wanstead Library (10 October, 7.30pm). Everyone knows Charles Dickens’ novels, but did you know he was also a keen actor, mesmerist and conjuror? Lucinda – who is also Dickens’ great-great-great-granddaughter – will talk about the man behind the novels: the journalist, social campaigner, dog lover, travel writer, and a man who was so influential in his own time that when he died the whole country went into mourning. She will also look at the changes he helped bring about in society, which still have resonance today.

Elsewhere in the festival, there are writing workshops galore and opportunities for emerging artists to learn from established performers. Spoken word artist Yomi Greeds Sood from Apples & Snakes will be leading a masterclass for aspiring writers followed by a performance event featuring him and rising star on the poetry circuit, Debris Stephens.

The ever-popular Kids Take Over events at Redbridge Central Library over the weekend of 12 and 13 October are once again delivered in partnership with Discover Story Centre. Kids of all ages will be treated to an array of author events such as David Litchfield, Sufiya Ahmed, Nadia Shireen and Simon Moles, writing workshops, comic book workshops, exhibitions, theatre and dance performances. There will also be opportunities to explore the world of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) in our award-winning digital makerspace: Lab Central.

Thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England, the festival is even bigger and better this year as we celebrate the power of libraries during National Libraries Week (7 to 13 October). Focusing on the theme of libraries in the digital age, visitors to the festival will get the opportunity to discover the digital innovation taking place across Redbridge Libraries from Hublets, Yetitablets, eBooks, eMagazines, makerspaces, film streaming, a tech lending library and more. All of this can be accessed for free with your library card to open up a world of possibilities.

Fabula Festival is curated and produced by Redbridge Library & Culture Service, managed by Vision RCL on behalf of Redbridge Council.

For more information and to book tickets, visit visionrcl.org.uk/fabula


Photo story 2

Stairway-to-Heaven©Jim Williams

In the second of a series of articles by members of the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society, Jim Williams tells the story behind this image taken on his way home from work

This picture may be nothing special to most photographers, but to me it was a milestone breakthrough, realising I had recognised the possibility of getting this shot.

I have been a regular member of Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society for just under three years but still consider myself a novice when I compare myself to other members I admire. Some people just have the knack of finding the right angle to make an average image great. I often wonder how they see what I don’t and whether you can teach someone creativity or if it’s something you just have or you don’t.

I must say, since joining Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society, I have started to continually look at my surroundings to see if there is a potential photograph within my sights. I now look skyward as much as down and left or right.

Leaving my office in Fitzrovia at 4.30pm daily, and walking the same route to Tottenham Court Road Tube station, I noticed this facade in Percy Street showing a reflection of a few clouds with the staircase visible through the glazing. I immediately realised that with the right weather conditions the staircase would look like it was passing through the clouds. Camera in hand every afternoon I left work, my journey down Percy Street was finally rewarded with ideal conditions – a very bright sunny afternoon with plenty of fluffy clouds in the sky. This gave a great reflection with the staircase clearly visible.

A bit of teasing with the Detail Extractor Filter from the Nik Collection bolt-on to Photoshop gave me an image that achieved first place in a club competition. A pleasing result, but not as pleasurable as knowing I had imagined the picture before I had actually seen it.

To find out more about the Woodford and Wanstead Photographic Society – which meets weekly at Wanstead House – visit wnstd.com/wwps

Join local historian for a wander around Snaresbrook

P1060109---CopyThe Great Eastern Railway brackets at Snaresbrook Station

Local historian Lynn Haseldine Jones will lead a walk around Snaresbrook this month looking at the evidence for commuters.

“We begin at Snaresbrook Station, where the railway first came in 1856, changing the nature of the village from a predominantly Georgian settlement to a bustling Victorian suburb. There is still evidence of the Great Eastern Railway, hardly noticed by passengers on the busy Central Line,” said Lynn.

The free 90-minute walk departs at 2pm on 9 October (booking required).

Visit wnstd.com/snaresw


Spring-flowering bulb giveaway and planting weekend this month


Redbridge Council will be giving away spring-flowering bulbs to the community this month, encouraging everyone to plant them as part of the Big Bulb Planting Weekend (18 to 20 October).

This is part of a borough-wide movement to bring everybody together to beautify our streets… Bulbs can be planted in spaces that benefit the community,” said a spokesperson.

The bulbs – which include daffodils, tulips and crocuses – must be requested by 10 October and can be collected from Wanstead Library.

Visit wnstd.com/blbs