December 2020


Why can’t you see me?


Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into life with cerebral palsy. In the sixth of a series of articles, Grace recalls meeting the holiday armadillo

Hi everyone. It’s me again, Grace. This time, I thought I’d talk about Christmas and how different it was and how different things still are as this year ends and 2021 begins.

OMG! It has been so different. Normally, people’s family get together, but that couldn’t happen this time because of COVID. But the way my mum thinks – which is dark, but true – if you want to have Christmas with your family, that could then be your last Christmas altogether! So, we all had to do Christmas differently.

For me, it was the first Christmas in 10 years that I haven’t done a Christmas show at Chicken Shed Theatre. Chicken Shed changed my life. Before joining, I hated leaving the house as I was embarrassed for people to see me because I was ‘different’. But I’ve been doing the shows now since I was seven, so it felt really strange not to. And here’s something stupid: Capital FM do a concert every Christmas called the Jingle Bell Ball and I’ve been going to that for the past four years, and for the past three, I’ve been to both of the nights! I absolutely love that concert because there are 10 different singers each night.

I’m a huge fan of the TV programme Friends, so last year I got to go to the Friends festival and – OMG – it was so sick. Basically, if you’re not that obsessed with Friends, you’d probably think ‘whatever’, but I thought it was amazing, especially for a photo shoot. There was only one thing I wasn’t that impressed with, but it’s quite silly. Basically, there wasn’t a lift at the main entrance, so I had to go round the back to the lift there. I was fine with that, but then when I got home, I watched a YouTube video of the festival and I had missed the walkway with a red carpet and pictures of the actors. So, I was a little disappointed I missed out on that, but I was able to recreate the credits and I got to do a photo shoot in a huge Friends mirror frame! I met the holiday armadillo (fellow fans will appreciate that) and there was a massive cinema screen that played Friends all day.

Normally, I don’t like to eat or drink out because I get insecure about being fed, but I ate there, so that was an achievement! Well, because I could eat in front of watching Friends it took my mind off people watching me, and anyway, why would they watch me being fed when they can watch Friends! Then I got to go on the set tour and that was amazing.

So yeah, that’s all I’ve got for you this month. I hope you had a lovely and safe Christmas and I will see you in February.       

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit

Restoring Wanstead Park

The-Grotto-built-in-1760©Jennifer Baptist

In the 11th of a series of articles looking at the developing plans for restoring Wanstead Park, Richard Arnopp of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands has some good news about the park’s historic grotto. Photo by Jennifer Baptist

Far beyond living memory, Wanstead Park’s boathouse grotto has been quietly mouldering away as nobody could decide what to do with it. Now, 136 years after it was accidentally destroyed by fire, we have a double dose of good news about this iconic building.

Not only has the City of London adopted a Conservation Management Plan to secure its future, but the Friends of Wanstead Parklands have secured a grant from the Heritage of London Trust for some remedial work to be carried out on the structure.

The Grotto was built around 1760 for John, second Earl Tylney of Castlemaine, overlooking the Ornamental Water. Unusually large and elaborate, it was on two levels, with a boathouse below and a room for entertainment above, and with a service area to the side. It isn’t known who designed the building, though the noted antiquarian, geologist and naturalist Dr William Borlase supplied geological specimens to be incorporated into it. The grotto survived the wreck of the estate and became a popular attraction when the park was opened to the public, with an admission price of sixpence. Sadly, it was burned out during maintenance work in 1884, leaving only the exterior walls. Since then, weathering and vandalism have led to further loss of fabric: little is now left on the landward side, and the spectacular waterside façade survives only as a denuded shadow of its former self.

The Grotto was added in its own right to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2017 (the park as a whole has been on the register since 2009).

The Conservation Management Plan was commissioned by Epping Forest and prepared by Alan Baxter Ltd, a consultancy specialising in conservation projects. It includes a summary of existing knowledge about the Grotto’s historical development as well as a consideration of its current condition and significance. It concluded that the Grotto is at a turning point in its history. In recent decades, its decline has accelerated, despite sporadic attempts at consolidation, to the point that visitors’ appreciation of the Grotto’s significance is being jeopardised.

The task was now to identify a sustainable future for the structure and to see its removal from the Heritage at Risk Register. The Conservation Management Plan recommended that, in the medium term, the City Corporation should, as far as possible, restore the façade to its 18th-century appearance. Nothing done should preclude fuller restoration at a later date if that was considered appropriate and funds became available. Issues of security, accessibility and interpretation would also need to be addressed. It was emphasised that, as part of a designed landscape, the Grotto could not be considered without reference to its immediate surroundings and the wider vision for Wanstead Park as a whole.

The Friends took an active part in the stakeholder workshops arranged by Alan Baxter Ltd and contributed documentary evidence and historic imagery to assist the project. The conclusions reached have our enthusiastic support – the Grotto is an important focal point in the landscape and a tangible link with the park’s rich history.

We were looking forward to seeing the plans take shape and become a reality when we were suddenly given an opportunity to help make it happen. In July, Friends of Wanstead Parklands Chairman John Sharpe received an approach from the Heritage of London Trust (HLT), a charity set up to provide help to London’s lost, neglected or ruined buildings and monuments. HLT told us it was interested in considering the Grotto for a grant in recognition of its ‘at risk’ status. After a site visit, the Friends submitted an application for a grant toward rebuilding the landing stage.

We are delighted to announce a grant of £10,000 has since been approved, with work planned to start later this year. The City of London will probably be able to add a further £15,000 to allow all the necessary work to be completed. The HLT briefed its Patron HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, about the project at a recent meeting. The duke, who is also Ranger of Epping Forest, is said to be taking an interest.

The Friends hope there will be other opportunities over the coming years to act as the lead charity to unlock new sources of funding for projects in Wanstead Park. We’ll keep you posted!

For more information on Wanstead Park, and to become a member of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, visit

Home activist


In the second of a two-part rebel guide for the home activist, Wanstead Climate Action member Tina Nieman Da Costa explains how reading and writing can help save the environment

Taking your carefully worded, attention-grabbing placard on the virus-riddled Tube and onto the streets of Westminster to be a visible reminder of dissatisfaction of the Establishment may not be an option for now. But this does not mean that you, as an activist, are restricted to angry ramblings on social media. Instead, take flight into new avenues of civil disobedience. Here are a few ways to make an effective statement of rebellion and take on the man from the comfort of your home office.

Stop the shop
The fast fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to our carbon spend. An incredible 10% of all human carbon emissions can be traced back to the fashion industry and up to 85% of textiles end up in landfills. Fashion is also responsible for the second largest consumption of water and a high rate of industrial run-off during the dying process. With online sellers booming, and the temptation to spend to feel good stronger than ever, it’s time for a radical rethink. Are we human or are we consumers?

Only 2% of plastic is recycled, yet production in the UK was around 1.7 million tonnes in 2020, 44% of which was destined for packaging. In this capitalist state of mind, the only way to curve this upward trend is at the point of demand. In a free market, you vote with your wallet.

Then there’s the human cost. People are working in warehouses and factories, risking infection to produce and deliver stretchy sofa covers, dancing Santas and the occasional sex toy, none of which are likely to be missed in any household. Amazon profits doubled during the pandemic, yet the people working on the warehouse floors have not seen an increase in their working standards. Furthermore, the tax-dodging tactics of these corporations mean that when their employees get COVID-19, we are picking up the tab.

Read well
Information is power, misinformation is dangerous. Read judiciously, but read a lot. Critical thinking is in short supply; expand your horizons one page at a time now travelling to the world’s cultural centres is not an option.

Write letters
Letter writing really does work. Did you know that if your local councillors get more than three letters on any given subject, they are obliged to call it in for scrutiny? You can also write to or email your MP; they were elected to represent you and it’s their duty to take your concerns into consideration and onto the floors of Parliament. You don’t need to be Marcus Rashford to bring change, but you do need to be persistent, so be prepared to write several letters before getting a response.

For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit

Feed the swans: think of our water birds as winter sets in


A network of volunteers who help protect the local swan population is encouraging more people to feed the birds this winter.

“With the risk of lakes freezing over, do think of the water birds that reside in our beautiful parks and on Wanstead’s lakes this winter. We have been very encouraged by the rise in interest in our swans since our last article, and we hope people continue to feed them a good diet of seed, granary bread and leafy greens. Do call if you have any concerns about swans,” said Tracey Adebowale-Jones.

Call 07970 404 866


Wanstead’s loss

001_Jill_Stock-copyJill Stock (22 May 1947 – 25 May 2019)

In May 2019, Wanstead resident Jill Stock was tragically killed when a car mounted the pavement. Kate Gloudemans remembers her mum and thanks the community for funding a memorial bench in her honour

Mum was visiting her family in Somerset when tragedy struck. The impact of her death extended far beyond her immediate family and friends – it was also a huge loss for many people in Wanstead and the wider community.

Mum was a nurse for 44 years, starting her career in intensive care, and then in later years, as a district nurse in Redbridge. She was a well-loved member of the community and always a friend to those in need. She was known for her caring, selfless nature and sunny disposition.

In the months after Mum died, we were so touched by people taking the time to share how Mum had been there to support them. She seemed to have had a way of being in the right place at the right time. Mum was one of life’s angels. She cared for everyone, especially the old and vulnerable, and she hated injustice. When something was wrong and needed resolving, nobody was more tenacious than Mum.

Mum loved Wanstead – she said it was ‘a very special community’ – and she put her heart and soul into it ever since moving here in 1975, from school PTAs to organising street parties, and bringing neighbours together (sometimes for the first time) to celebrate their neighbourhood. Mum also played a pro-active role in the Wanstead Neighbourhood Watch team. In 2017, she received an award from the Mayor of Redbridge for ‘Creating a Safer Neighbourhood’ and a past sergeant referred to her as a ‘legend in the world of policing’.

Mum also regularly shared many wise words of advice and consolation on the Wanstead Community Hub Facebook group. She was a familiar face at the monthly farmers’ market where she had her own stall, selling jigsaw puzzles of a Wanstead montage she created when she stopped nursing.

We were honoured to read so many wonderful tributes written in the local press. Her obituary on the Wansteadium website was the most-read article in 2019. Nearly 400 people attended her funeral, including a number of police officers. More than £5,600 was raised for charity in her memory and now, 18 months later, the community have come together to fund a memorial bench.

In November 2020, we set up a fundraising page to raise awareness so that all those who knew and loved her had the opportunity to join us in contributing to this fitting memorial. We reached our initial £2,000 target in just over a week, but contributions have continued to come in. Any extra money raised will be put back into the local community. The new bench will be situated outside the Co-op on the High Street. When it’s in place, we know she’d love you to join her to stop and chat (at a 2m distance for the time being).

For more information and to contribute to the fundraiser, visit

New Grow Zones to be established in Redbridge, but not in Wanstead

IMG_5009The verge along The Drive

Redbridge Council has agreed to increase the total area of road verges in the borough that are left to grow wild from 10,000 square metres to 20,000 square metres.

It follows a campaign by Wild Wanstead and biodiversity groups who asked for the Grow Zones project to be expanded in Wanstead and beyond.

However, the expansion will not include any new sites in Wanstead, although the verge along The Drive, heading from Snaresbrook to South Woodford, is set to be reinstated, having become an approved site in 2019.


Local businesses play their part in appeal to help rough sleepers

cakesimage0Cinnamon Cake Company cupcakes

The Wanstead Parish Christmas appeal to help rough sleepers has raised over £7,000 (and counting).

“Le Marmiton donated proceeds from a wine sale, Cinnamon Cake Company sold cupcakes and The Duke also donated. Bancroft’s School pupils forwent Secret Santa in favour of donations and Wanstead Church School PTA held a Christmas trail. In January, it’s Wanstead’s turn to cook for the shelter. Taking their turn at the stoves, alongside the volunteers, will be local restaurants Ajanta Express and The Lane,” said a spokesperson.


High Street noticeboards reglazed, ready for posters when library opens


Redbridge Council has replaced the glazing on the High Street noticeboards, located outside the Co-op and Tesco Express.

“We are very pleased to have worked with the council to get these valuable community assets in working order again,” said Councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas. Notices for community events, local information and announcements can be left with staff at Wanstead Library, who maintain the displays. “Hopefully, by the time this edition is published, the library will be open again!”



Wanstead Village councillors remind residents to get in touch for help

Screenshot 2020-12-21 at 13.21.29

Wanstead Village councillors would like to remind residents that despite the absence of advice surgeries, they are still available to help with local issues.

“While we are unfortunately still unable to hold face-to-face resident advice surgeries, please email us if you would like to make an appointment to speak with any of us,” said Councillors Jo Blackman, Paul Donovan and Daniel Morgan-Thomas. Residents can also join the councillors’ mailing list for monthly updates.

Councillor Jo Blackman:

Councillor Paul Donovan:

Councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas:


Consultation on making Wanstead a Low Emission Neighbourhood


Redbridge Council has approved the creation of two Low Emission Neighbourhoods, covering Wanstead and the Oakdale area of South Woodford.

The initiative will involve measures to reduce vehicle emissions and promote sustainable living, including segregated cycle lanes – on Blake Hall Road, Centre Road, Lake House Road and Aldersbrook Road – and enhanced green landscaping. Traffic is also set to be banned outside schools at certain times. Consultations will launch in January.

More information and links to consultations will be published here when available.


Popular pre-Christmas litter pick in Wanstead Park

IMG_1964Some of the volunteer litter pickers in December

A pre-Christmas litter pick in Wanstead Park proved a popular event.

“About 40 people [more than double November’s turnout], including lots of children, turned up for our Wanstead Park litter pick on a cold Sunday in December – coincidentally the day the Roding flooded again – and enjoyed mince pies and a free Friends of Wanstead Parklands newsletter at the finish,” said Gill James.

Park users are now invited to join the Friends of Wanstead Parklands New Year litter pick on 3 January, meeting at 11am outside the Temple.