December 2020


Why can’t you see me?

grace-1Grace showing off her new braces

Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into life with cerebral palsy. In the fifth of a series of articles, Grace uses more f-words than we’ve ever published before

Hi everyone. It’s me again, Grace. Today, I thought I’d tell you all about something very exciting that’s happened. For most teenagers, this isn’t a big deal, but for me, it’s huge. Basically, I’ve finally got braces on my top and bottom teeth!

The reason why I’m so excited – and having them done at 17 – is because two years ago, I was under the Royal London Dental Hospital to get braces, and they told me they were able to put the braces on and I was going to get straight teeth. They started off with my top front six teeth, but the bracket fell off one. They said that it was fine to have five brackets and to get the sixth one back on when I went back for my bottom teeth.

So, I went back for my bottom teeth and I went into a massive room with cubicles full of dentists. I got called into a cubicle and I asked the student who was doing my teeth: “You’re going to do my bottom teeth right?” She said to wait for her tutor to come over, so I just thought she meant the fully qualified dentist will have to do it. Because of my movements, it was a bit tricky, and I also need suctioning, otherwise I’d choke on my saliva!

The fully qualified dentist came over and said that because I move too much and need suctioning, they were unable to give me braces. I said: “Why don’t you just do it yourself, because you’ve got more experience?” Oh no, she couldn’t do it herself because she was too important, so I said: “Why don’t you sedate me, because I’m sedated for everything else?” But she said they couldn’t do that because it’s a luxury treatment, not a necessary procedure to be put under for. I went mental. “Just because I’m disabled, it’s like it doesn’t matter if I look good and have straight teeth! But all these f**king able-bodied people can get f**king straight teeth! Just because that f***ing doctor f**ked up the birth and made me f**king disabled! You’re f**king discriminating against me!”

On the way out, I shouted at everyone getting their braces fitted. “F**king good for you, you get f**king straight teeth, but I don’t because I’m f**king disabled and the dentists here are discriminating bastards!”

Later that day, my mum promised me that she would try to find a good orthodontist that might be able to give me braces, and that’s what she did. To cut a long story short, I’ve finally got my braces on my top and bottom teeth. I want to thank my amazing dentist, Ama, for not giving up on me and making my dream to have straight teeth come true.

I’ve got to stop typing now, because I’ve gone over the word count. Happy Christmas and see you all next month.

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

Restoring Wanstead Park

Wanstead-Park-Lake-stitched©Luciano Ocesca

In the 10th of a series of articles looking at the developing plans for restoring Wanstead Park, Richard Arnopp of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands explains the latest spanner in the lake restoration works. Photo of Perch Pond by Luciano Ocesca

The Wanstead Park restoration project has always been something of a rollercoaster: nothing much happens for a while, and then developments come thick and fast. There’s quite a lot of news at the moment – some good, some less so.

The single issue that preoccupies the Friends of Wanstead Parklands – and everyone who cares about the park – is the state of the lakes. Created in the first half of the 18th century, the lakes were intended to create vistas of water around three sides of Wanstead House. Originally nine in number, the five survivors (the Basin, Shoulder of Mutton Pond, Heronry Pond, Perch Pond and Ornamental Water) still form one of London’s finest waterscapes and are the park’s defining feature.

Sadly, the lakes are not in good condition. Only one – the Basin, owned by Wanstead Golf Club – seems to have no serious problems. As for the others, the water level in the Shoulder of Mutton Pond fluctuates seasonally, and it would benefit from some de-silting, but it is otherwise fairly stable. However, the other three lakes are in a bad way. The concrete lining of Heronry Pond is completely compromised, and even with constant replenishment via pumping from a borehole, it is impossible to keep it anywhere near full. The neighbouring Perch Pond looks healthy but appears to be heavily dependent on leakage from its western neighbour. Worst of all is the Ornamental Water, which has taken a turn for the worse in recent years for reasons which are not yet fully understood. Water levels have remained persistently low, and even when the lake was flooded by the River Roding in December 2019, immediately began to fall by about 7cm per week until, within a few months, it was back to where it had been before.

Addressing the state of the lake system is one of the central themes of the Parkland Plan (covering restoration and management), which was adopted by the City of London earlier this year.

Making plans is all very well but they also need to be paid for. There we have run into a problem. The key to funding the Parkland Plan was that radical works were assumed to be required to the lakes to bring them into line with the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. It was anticipated these modifications could cost up to £10 million, based on what had been spent on a similar project on Hampstead Heath.

This presented an opportunity for Wanstead Park, as the spending 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 have been used as match funding for a parallel bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to pay for a whole range of improvements to the park.

Unfortunately, the recently published engineer’s recommendations have rather thrown a spanner in the works. He concluded that the works required were far less extensive than had been assumed. Provisionally costed at around £500,000, this is only 5% of the ballpark figure we were working on before. This means the complex funding package for the Parkland Plan will need to be rebuilt from scratch.

We know that Epping Forest is working on new funding options. However, in the meantime, we will be pressing for early implementation of those aspects of its Water Management Strategy that might make an appreciable difference. In our view, the change in funding assumptions for the Wanstead Park project, as well as the worsening state of the lakes, has created a new situation. Most of these options would not be unduly expensive. In our view, they now need to be explicitly decoupled from the main project and expedited as a project in their own right.

Over the last decade, the Friends have been patient and supportive as Epping Forest officials raised awareness within the City of London of the plight of Wanstead Park. Our interventions (notably a 2017 ‘summit’ of stakeholders at the Palace of Westminster) have helped to build a ‘coalition of the willing’ and identify practical ways of doing something about it. Now, we are exploring ways in which we can unlock new sources of grant aid for the park as the requesting charity. Next month, I will pass on some good news on a current instance where we have been able to do just that. However, as far as the lakes are concerned, the ball is in the City of London’s court. Wanstead Park’s custodian needs to put the current setback behind it and come up with a new funding strategy. The present situation is too dire for action to be delayed much longer.

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

Declaration of Trust


Hollie Skipper from local solicitors Wiseman Lee takes a look at the issues surrounding property co-ownership and explains why some property owners may want to consider making a Declaration of Trust

When you own a property with another, a trust relationship is automatically created between you, and the rights and duties of each of you are set out in law.

However, co-ownership law is limited and will not record any personal agreement you may have made with your co-owner in relation to how you own the property, in what shares, what each of you will contribute and what will happen to the proceeds if the property is sold. If the property is held under a joint tenancy, in the event of the death of one of you, legal ownership passes to the other. However, if you both make a Declaration of Trust, then the law will step in to protect the terms that each of you agree.

Declarations of Trust are useful for couples who own a home together and wish to record their individual financial contributions to protect their interests in the event of a relationship breakdown, or for those providing financial assistance to their children or grandchildren for the purchase of a property. Individual contributions can be ring-fenced so that if the property is sold, the contribution is protected as much as possible. This will be largely dependent upon there being sufficient proceeds from the sale to discharge any mortgage.

A Declaration of Trust can record:

Each party’s financial contribution and the percentage split of ownership.

What each party will receive in the event the property is sold.

How much each party will contribute towards mortgage payments or outgoings.

The division of any rental income.

Specify that neither party can secure a debt or remortgage without the other’s consent.

Set out the terms and timescale if one party wishes to buy the other out.

You can create a Declaration of Trust even if you have owned the property in question for a long time, but there may be Capital Gains Tax implications when doing so. A declaration can also be prepared in conjunction with a new purchase and will be signed on completion.

Declarations of Trust are also useful for tax and estate planning. The legal owner(s) of a property can gift their interest by declaring they hold it for another. Although they remain the legal owner in name and continue to have some control over the property, it will fall out of their estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Declarations of Trust are a complex area of law and careful consideration and professional advice is required.


Deep roots


Wanstead resident Jean Medcalf has published her first poetry book at the age of 89. To Everything There is a Season is a collection of lyrical, spiritual poems about nature. In the second of a series of articles, Jean introduces Network, a poem with an apt Christmas message

I came to live in Wanstead just before Christmas 1960. I remember my very first Christmas as a newly-wed. I carefully prepared the turkey, put it into my shiny new oven. Myself and my husband went visiting, planning to return to a delicious dinner. Unluckily, I wasn’t used to the new oven. I forgot to switch it on and we returned to raw turkey! 

Winters were much colder then and, of course, we had no central heating, just coal fires and oil heaters. Hot water was provided by a 1930s cast-iron boiler in the kitchen, which had to be stoked each day with coke. I used to get up at 6am to light the coal fire. The children got dressed in the living room as it was the only warm room, and I put their woollen vests on the fireguard to warm. Milk would freeze in the bottles on the doorstep, clothes froze rigid on the washing line, and there were beautiful Jack Frost patterns on the windows.

There were very thick fogs in winter as well. When you were out in the street, you literally could not see your hand in front of your face, and when driving with my husband, I kept the passenger door open to see the kerb!

The Saturday before Christmas, as we did our shopping, we could hear the sound of carols along the High Street, from the Women’s Voluntary Service at the Corner House. The Salvation Army band came round the streets in their uniforms and peaked caps, and sang Christmas carols gathered around a barrel organ, and there was a big Christmas tree on the Green.

We bought our turkey, ham and sausages in Dennis the butchers and the tangerines, dates and nuts from Harveys. Also, a real Christmas tree, which looked pretty but dropped needles all over the carpet.

Woolworths was the shop for Christmas decorations: packets of paper chains, which had to be painstakingly licked and glued together, red and green crêpe paper, tinsel, fairy lights, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil to hang on the tree, pink and white sugar mice with string tails for the stockings, and of course, glue and glitter for home-made Christmas cards.

I used to buy the children’s Christmas presents from the lovely toy shops we had in those days. Vane’s the bookshop in Cambridge Park. Reed’s on the corner of Wanstead Place, which sold bicycles and toys, a lovely little shop near Snaresbrook Station that sold wooden doll’s furniture and Gravatt’s in Nightingale Lane for all sorts of toys, jigsaws, little dolls, paint boxes, board games and colouring books.

And who can forget the big treat for children – a visit to Santa in his grotto at Bearman’s in Leytonstone, the wonderful department store that I am sure many local people will still remember fondly.

by Jean Medcalf

Time to check the network

Time to tie the knots of ravelled aunts
Catscradle the newcomers from the womb
To pleach the family tree with distant cousins
To trawl the book for the forgotten few

Alone, bereaved, insane and old.

Time to test the warp and weft for strengthening
Renew the wear with friendship and with love
Darn in the weaker spots with woven letters
All frayed edges must be unafraid

Test tension, teach it to relax.

Time for our network now to be elastic
A trampoline to bounce us out of grief
A loving safety net to ease our falling
A laughing hammock curved for troubled nights

Secure in bonds of love

Time for no gaps that you and I might fall through
Time for no depths that we might leave unplumbed
Time for no breadth and height to be omitted
Time for the Big Fisherman to net us

Time He took the strain.

Jean’s book To Everything There is a Season is available in paperback (£4.75). Visit

Thank you, Wanstead


As he prepares to leave Wanstead Parish, Revd Dr Jack Dunn reflects on his four years as Rector, and talks about a Christmas appeal to help keep rough sleepers safe this winter

A year like no other, 2020 has had its highs and lows. We had wonderful news from the Heritage Lottery Fund, inaugurated our winter night shelter and raised funds to sponsor a refugee family. We also had to shut our church doors, learn to embrace Zoom and, sadly, take more funerals and comfort more bereaved families than we ever thought possible.

Last winter, our night shelter opened inside Christ Church halls, providing our guests with a hot meal, shelter, breakfast, a listening ear and a smile. We were overwhelmed by the support of the local community: financially, volunteering and donating clothing and food. This project above all others summed up the wonderful Wanstead community, helping others less fortunate than themselves.

This winter, things will be very different. Covid-19 restrictions mean church halls across the country can no longer be used for shelters, yet the need for emergency accommodation is greater than ever, with more people set to lose jobs and homes.

Partnering with Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter, we plan to provide emergency accommodation in a local hotel, funding 15 individual rooms per night to run from November through to the end of March 2021. We’re delighted to have again been chosen to feature in the Aviva Community Fund, and our Christmas appeal crowdfund is now live. We’re praying the local community and Aviva employees will want to support us once more.

Charities worldwide have been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis and yet the local community in Wanstead has been so supportive. Just as we entered lockdown in March, our fundraiser to sponsor a Syrian refugee family went live. This was not great timing, yet, once again, we were amazed by the generosity of the local community and we soon hit our target. Our application has now been approved by the Home Office. We hope to welcome a family to Wanstead in 2021 once resettlement flights resume from Jordan.

Following last year’s restoration of St Mary’s – thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund – we received the huge boost of a further £72,500 grant. This will help us to work with consultants and architects to secure and plan the longer-term future for both St Mary’s and Christ Church, and explore how both churches can be developed to serve our communities better. We would love to hear from members of the wider community about how our church buildings can better serve everyone – young and old, people of all faiths and none. After all, the church is there to serve everyone, not just churchgoers!

If this year has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me that community is everything. I will really miss the Wanstead community. Thank you for your generosity and great kindness.

To donate to the Wanstead Parish appeal, visit

Park & ride?


A previous article highlighting ideas for new cycle routes in Wanstead Park generated many ‘lively responses’. Here, Friends of Wanstead Parklands member Gill James reports on plans for a consultation in 2021

The new draft Epping Forest Cycling Strategy aims at encouraging responsible cycling in the forest. Cycling is permitted throughout Epping Forest, with the exception of Wanstead Park. Epping Forest has 284km of shared-use paths, which makes it a great place to explore by bike.

When cycling in Epping Forest, you are asked to follow the cycling code of conduct, which includes the following rules:

  • Let people know you are there with a greeting or bell
  • Give priority to pedestrians and horse riders
  • Approach corners and descents with caution as dogs, wildlife and cattle may cross your path unexpectedly
  • Do not race bicycles – this includes digital KOM/QOM ‘chasing’
  • Use the existing routes and avoid skidding

Cycling in Wanstead Park
The current regulation forbidding cycling in Wanstead Park is incongruous with the rest of the forest. The Friends of Wanstead Parklands and City of London agree that cycling in the park has become a ‘free for all’ and clearer revised guidelines are necessary. Many lively responses to an article in the September edition of the Wanstead Village Directory showed a majority in favour of more shared-use routes in Wanstead Park.

The City of London has now indicated they wish to move from the current, restrictive model to one which better reflects the time and will develop a separate cycling policy for Wanstead Park. Once various strategies for achieving a more harmonious situation have been considered, consultation with the public will follow in July 2021. This will be your chance to have a say.

The Friends of Wanstead Parklands will be acting as a consultative body with Epping Forest and will suggest three options:

  1. A shared-use ‘commuter’ route between the Northumberland Avenue gate and the Warren Road gate. This would allow people to cycle straight across the park to the Tube, shops and schools using a hard surface already used by motor vehicles.
  2. A shared-use circular leisure route on existing wide paths for families to enjoy.
  3. Allowing responsible cycling anywhere within the park. Complaints about cyclists in the rest of the forest are rare. This would put the park in line with current practice in the rest of Epping Forest, thus avoiding further confusion over which paths are permitted and which are not.

For more information on the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, visit

Staying positive


Councillor Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Wanstead Village, Labour) looks at how the pandemic has impacted blood testing facilities for Wanstead residents, and is pleased to see phlebotomy services slowly improving

Among the turmoil caused by COVID-19 this year, many Wanstead residents will have noticed the walk-in blood testing service at the Heronwood and Galleon unit off Hermon Hill (the last remnant of the old Wanstead Hospital site) shut its doors during the pandemic.

As a Wanstead Village councillor and member of the Redbridge Health Scrutiny Committee, I tried with others on the council to establish what alternatives were available while it was closed, but the answers weren’t satisfactory. Some local residents were told to go as far as Loughton, to a clinic where queues stretched around the block; others were sent to the Langthorne Clinic in Leyton, though this service was not commissioned by Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), so they risked being turned away when they arrived.

In fact, neither of those services were the nearest walk-in option: phlebotomy provided at Whipps Cross Hospital (who are actually responsible for running the Wanstead unit) would have been more accessible, but understandably, many people may have been reluctant to visit an acute hospital at the height of the pandemic, and it is certainly not as accessible for our community as a short trip on foot to Hermon Hill.

It wasn’t clear for how long the local service would be closed over the summer or why such a popular service had been deemed fit to close at all – Barts Health, who provide the service, said the site was requested for use by the CCG for pandemic response purposes. In any case, it was a relief when the service at Heronwood and Galleon reopened on 21 September, and it has, by all accounts, been working well as a walk-in service, open from Monday to Friday from 8am to 1pm.

Unfortunately, the wider picture for phlebotomy provision across the borough remains less positive. In October, a serious incident was declared for phlebotomy across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) CCG – waiting times for non-urgent blood tests in parts of the tri-borough area had reached as high as 16 weeks. Since this low-point, the CCG has increased resources available for blood testing, including an additional centre at South Woodford Health Centre and supporting GP services to deliver blood tests; waiting times are now slowly coming down.

On the Health Scrutiny Committee, we have been particularly keen to ensure the CCG share their messages with the community more widely so people know how the situation with blood testing in the borough is progressing, and what the best ways of finding a blood test near you are. The CCG website is updated weekly, so you can check for details of testing sites and how to book. We’ll keep asking for updates and pushing for the best possible service for patients too!

For more information on blood tests, visit

Have your say on crime: council and police want your opinions

DSC_4012-(1)©Geoff Wilkinson

Redbridge Council, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, is asking people who live or work in the borough to take part in a survey to help shape both organisation’s crime priorities.

“We want to understand how you feel, what your concerns are and what we can do to make Redbridge safer. If you have been impacted by crime over the last two years, please fill in the survey and tell us what you think our priorities should be,” said Leader of the Council, Councillor Jas Athwal. The survey closes on 10 January.



Church and school selected for Co-op’s Local Community Fund

1582715146_b657e350-b739-4957-a626-4a1fa5e54bf7©Kira Vos Photography

Wanstead Parish and Snaresbrook Primary School PTA have been selected for the next round of Co-op’s Local Community Fund.

“When you buy selected Co-op products and services, 2p for every £1 spent goes into your membership account… You can select the local cause you would like to support,” said Diana Varakina, Co-op’s Member Pioneer for Wanstead and South Woodford.

The church will use the funds to support their outreach programmes and the PTA will buy new equipment for nursery and reception classes.


Wanstead knitting group continues fundraising with Christmas gifts


Wanstead-based knitting group Social Knitworks is raising funds for rough sleepers by selling a range of festive knitted items, including crocheted Christmas puddings (£6.50), large snowmen (£8.50), Santa bears (£12) and knitted heart tree decorations (£2).

Last month, the group raised £374 for The Legion and Wanstead’s Corner House Project through sales of knitted poppies.

“I have been amazed by the support we have received,” said Liz Hickson, who established the group in 2018.