The Wanstead Society will celebrate its silver jubilee by planting a new tree on the High Street this month in a nod to the community group’s first project in the late nineties. Scott Wilding reports
Back in 1997, an average pint would cost you £1.10, a litre of petrol was around 70p and I was still at Wanstead High School completing my A levels. But this was also the year that the Wanstead Society was born, and so in 2022, we turn 25.
To celebrate our silver jubilee, we are planting a tree outside Gail’s Bakery this month, which we hope will live at least another 25 years.
We’d like to thank Redbridge Council, who helped with the logistics, and for allowing us to celebrate our anniversary in this way.
We felt a tree was the right way to celebrate rather than a formal celebration. Urban trees provide heat shade, soak up excess water and give food and shelter to local wildlife. One tree on its own, of course, makes only a small difference. But in the 25 years we have been active, we have planted over 40 trees right across Wanstead, including the ones that stretch from Snaresbrook Station to the junction of Hollybush Hill. These were installed in the late 1990s and are still going strong; it was one of our first projects, but far from the last.
In over a quarter of a century, we have planted bulbs on Christ Church Green, funded the Wanstead Community Gardeners and helped pay for numerous community projects. From part-funding bins to fundraising for the refurbishment of the children’s playground on the green, we have always aimed to put something back.
Our next 25 years will see more challenges, but none more so than the environment. It’s essential that we do what we can to support local, native wildlife and plant vegetation if we want to tackle the climate emergency. This is likely to be the one really big challenge we all need to contribute to. In July last year, flash flooding caused by severe heavy rain resulted in huge damage to local homes and businesses. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, it’s clear climate change is right on our doorstep, and in some cases, flooding over it and into our homes.
Our projects would never be possible without the help and support of Wanstead residents. As a volunteer organisation, we rely on our members giving their time for free. And it’s our members who, through generous donations and selflessly giving up their time, have made Wanstead just that little bit better.
So, we hope that over the next 25 years, we can continue making Wanstead even better still, and with your help, we will.
For more information on the Wanstead Society, visit wansteadsociety.org.uk or write to: Wanstead Society, c/o Wanstead House, 21 The Green, Wanstead, E11 2NT.