September 2021


Future for Whipps

mcagCampaigners gather support on Wanstead High Street

In the ninth of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro reflects on the recent announcements regarding the Margaret Centre and bed numbers

Our battle to save the Margaret Centre in Whipps Cross is having an impact, but has not yet secured into the future this valued and much-loved palliative and end-of-life care unit. This became evident to Action 4 Whipps members meeting with the Barts Health Trust’s Whipps Redevelopment Team in order to understand better their recent announcements on bed numbers in the new Whipps, and the Margaret Centre.

The assurance given in recent announcements and in a letter to local MPs that end-of-life care will now be looked at “in a way that could be delivered from the Margaret Centre” does not, it appears, necessarily mean there would be an in-patient specialist unit. They could not say if there would even be an identified building as part of the new hospital, or anywhere else. There will be what is termed a ‘hybrid model of care’. St Joseph’s Hospice is to be involved in developing this.

To us campaigners, it is self-evident the award-winning, proven model of care provided by the Margaret Centre should be the starting point for any future model. This is so close to our community’s heart, as we found at our two stalls on Wanstead High Street recently when the Margaret Centre action group had hundreds of people signing postcards to Barts’ chief executive. Julie Donovan was there: “For me, it was quite emotional. I spoke to three people who had a loved one die in the Margaret Centre and were delighted with the care and support provided. I also spoke to a lady whose husband died on a ward and didn’t get to the centre. All were shocked at the thoughts of the service being changed.”

The voice of our community and elected representatives speaking in unison is powerful, but we need to make it even more so. NE London Clinical Commissioning Group (which covers a vast area from Havering to Hackney) is being handed a lead in planning this care. Our community and patient groups must be heard wherever decisions are being taken, and we must build our campaign.

On hospital bed numbers, Barts Health have announced – in reaction to the huge concern over 51 beds fewer – that the new Whipps Cross will “have at least as many overnight beds as the current site, if that is required to meet local demand for healthcare at the time of opening.” The number of over-65s in the catchment area is projected to grow by 25% within three years of the new hospital opening. Action 4 Whipps campaign points out and believes this warrants planning now for an actual increase in bed numbers. The size of the rebuild is not flexible; it’s already outlined in the current planning application. The footprint for the new hospital is also fixed by the budget. So, without an increase in hospital space, last-minute expansion of bed numbers will come at the sacrifice of essential staff training and work facilities, creating unacceptable difficulties for the future.

To join the campaign or share views, email


Young writer’s first book will help kids afraid of the dark

Screenshot 2021-09-28 at 11.10.50

Ten-year-old Wanstead resident Riku Fryderyk has published his first book, which tells the story of a young prince who escapes from his castle at night to discover that the midnight hour doesn’t have to be frightening.

“In this story, I want to help children who are afraid of the dark by making them think differently about what might be there that they cannot see,” explained Riku, who wrote the story when he was eight.

The Witching Hour is published by Pegasus and available in paperback.



In memory of Jean Medcalf: her legacy will live on in her poetry


Wanstead resident Jean Medcalf passed away peacefully on 20 September.

Born in Leytonstone in 1931, the 90-year-old poet had lived in Wanstead since 1960.

A funeral service will be held at Christ Church on 15 October (for details, call 020 8530 8743).

“No flowers please, but donations can be made in church and will be used for planting flowers in Wanstead in Jean’s memory… I am also going to publish the next volume of her poems as she would have wished. Her legacy will live on in her poetry,” said her daughter Sally.


Refugee donation centre


A refugee donation drop-off centre opened at Redbridge Town Hall earlier this month.

The centre is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm until mid-October, when it will be reviewed.

Donations are taken to a distribution centre in Havering, where they are sorted and distributed to families across north-east London.

Clothes are not required, but pushchairs and baby bottles are among the items needed.



It was waved through: councillor’s concerns over café kiosk approval

Acr278492177427841704557Visualisation of the café kiosk on Christchurch Green

Wanstead resident Paul Canal – who is a Conservative councillor for Bridge ward – has raised concerns over the process by which plans for a café kiosk on Christchurch Green were approved.

“Trust in our planning system is based on transparency… That system suffered a near-fatal blow when 200 residents objected to the café and it was simply waved through… I have written to the council asking that the application be resubmitted, a new consultation period opened and for it to be referred to the planning committee,” said Paul.


Christchurch Green tree decorated with messages of hope


Messages of hope decorated a sycamore tree on Christchurch Green earlier this month as part of the Spreading Kindness Through E11 initiative.

“We were so pleased to be able to bring back the Kindness Tree to the Wanstead Festival. This time, we were joined by Wanstead Climate Action to encourage messages about hope for a brighter future, both within our community and for our planet. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. It was definitely one of our most decorated trees to date!” said Elsa Arnold.


Watch Wanstead’s cutest canines at charity dog show


A dog show and family fun day will take place at Wanstead and Snaresbrook Cricket Club on 2 October.

The showing classes will include perfect puppy, golden oldie and best hairdo categories, with all funds raised donated to Dogs on the Streets, a charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the UK’s homeless community.

The event – which runs from 11am to 4pm – will also include obedience challenges, canine food and product stalls, live music, entertainment and refreshments.

Tickets for entry are priced at £5, which allows access to all attractions.



Car-free High Street and festival return attracts large crowds


Between 6,000 and 10,000 people were estimated to have enjoyed the Wanstead Festival on Christchurch Green earlier this month, with residents also cycling and playing on a car-free High Street, which was closed to traffic to promote active and sustainable travel options and clean air initiatives.

“The festival and our High Street event was a great opportunity for the community to come back together after a difficult 18 months,” said Councillor Jo Blackman.

The annual festival is run by Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure.


Redbridge Business Forum


Redbridge Council is seeking feedback from local business owners to help shape a new Redbridge Business Forum.

“This will provide an opportunity for business leaders to connect with each other and to engage with the council. It will also give businesses the chance to be more directly involved in borough priorities, plans and development,” said a spokesperson.

An online survey is open until 29 October.



Yoghurt pots among new items you can now recycle in your black box


Plastic tubs, pots and trays are now accepted in Redbridge Council’s kerbside recycling collections.

In addition, empty aerosol cans and clean aluminium foil and foil trays can also be included in the black recycling boxes, which were previously restricted to plastic bottles, tins, cans and glass.

“Always rinse out any food waste as this makes items unrecyclable. Rinse and scrunch up any foil. And please note, black plastic can’t be recycled, so please don’t put it in your box,” said a spokesperson.



Redbridge Lane West allotment petition discussed at council meeting

IMG_20210923_184131261Plot holders outside Redbridge Town Hall ahead of the meeting

The petition to save Redbridge Lane West allotments from being taken over by Cadent was debated at a Redbridge Council meeting yesterday.

“Although the response from councillors was generally supportive, indications from the leader and deputy leader of the council made it clear they believe a reduction in the impact of Cadent’s use of the site is sufficient. So the threat has not gone away. We are more determined than ever to make sure that our allotments are saved,” said plot holder Sally Parker.



Rediscovering Art

IMG_2010©Elsie Drew

Art Group Wanstead member Elsie Drew developed a passion for art at a young age. But with a family to nurture and a career to develop, painting was put on hold. Now, in retirement, Elsie has rediscovered art all over again

As a child, I was always drawing on scraps of paper or sketching in books. I remember drawing Art Deco-style ladies with large Afghan hounds at their sides that I copied from magazines. One of my elder brothers was a very talented artist and he would often show me how to draw or to paint in oils. I now know my preference is watercolour.

It was my mother who took me on my first visit to an art gallery when I was 13. We went to the Whitechapel Art Gallery where they were showing some of Henry Moore’s sculptures. I wished I could have stayed all day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my art classes at school. When I was in my last year at junior school, my teacher read William Blake’s The Tyger to us, but it was years later before I realised Blake was a wonderful artist as well as a poet. The local council held an art exhibition for all the schools in the area and my painting of a tiger coming through the trees was picked to be shown. My art teacher at senior school was considered very Bohemian with lots of beads and bangles and very bright colours on long swirling skirts. I can still see her now and remember her as a wonderful teacher.

After school, my life became very busy, leading to a family and a career, and drawing and painting no longer played such a pivotal role.

After my husband passed away, I decided to join an art class organised by Age UK and realised I had been missing art in my life. I received great encouragement from everyone and have formed wonderful friendships in the process, as well as passing on my childhood wonder and rekindled passion for art to my grandchildren. Rediscovering art – in particular watercolour – has been wonderful in my retirement.

My art is constantly changing. When I first started, I felt I had to copy my subject in the finest detail. It was very precise and would frustrate me when I felt the perspective and colours weren’t right and the picture didn’t convey my feelings towards the subject. Then, through art classes both online and locally, I found that it didn’t have to be like that. I was shown how the water could flow over the page, taking the colour with it and mingling with other colours to produce new ones and wonderful unintended shapes. If you have the patience to let the water dry, it will show you the way forward, allowing you to use ‘mark making’ and other mediums to achieve what you want to express on paper.  I have learnt that there is no wrong or right way to approach art, just different ways, and the process of creating a piece is uniquely personal and of a moment.

It’s only recently that I have found the courage to show my paintings and did so at the last local art trail before lockdown. I also entered three paintings in a virtual exhibition organised by Essex Art Club.

I now happily go out and paint, and my friend and I can often be seen in Wanstead Park with our sketchbooks and paints enjoying chats with walkers and other artists and the Wanstead community.

For more information on Art Group Wanstead, visit