September 2022


Please & thank you


Local resident Lorna Paterson first began helping others to learn sign language during lockdown. This month, she launches a monthly group at Wanstead Library to help more people communicate

I bumped into a neighbour at the supermarket during the first lockdown in March 2020. Unable to communicate, we gazed helplessly into each other’s eyes. The neighbour, who has impaired hearing, was unable to read my lips because we were both wearing masks. 

I’m a hearing person with British Sign Language (BSL) Level Two. My neighbour suffered hearing loss in later life and has had no opportunity to learn how to sign. Sadly, I was unable to use BSL to chat with her. That was when I decided to seek ways to share my skills with other Wanstead residents.

In a post on the Wanstead Community Hub Facebook group, and via an article in this magazine, I asked if anyone was interested in learning some common BSL signs. More than 30 people responded. 

While the pandemic ran its course, it proved to be difficult to arrange for small groups to meet in person to share and practise basic BSL. However, several people met with me on Zoom once a week to learn finger-spelling and share conversational signs: weather, family information, numbers and time. Over Christmas 2020, I took part in a signing choir at the Romford Festival and shared the carols we signed with the Zoom group.

The deaf community is proud and independent, but for many people, the experience of hearing loss is isolating. Children born with hearing impairments benefit from the amazing ‘deaf tech’ now available, but they also need community support. Loss of hearing is especially troublesome if it happens in later life, when it takes longer to learn new ways to communicate.

I have lived in Wanstead for 40 years. Until I chose to retire early, I was head of English in a high school in Waltham Forest. Now I’m employed by a Department for Education approved tuition agency as an academic support tutor for university students with disabilities. As a qualified teacher, in theory, I’m qualified to teach BSL Level One, but I don’t intend to run formal lessons. I am equally as keen to keep my own signing skills up to date as I am to help others to acquire them. BSL Wanstead is all about sharing. 

Wanstead Library has kindly agreed to reserve a space for BSL Wanstead to meet from early October onwards. Initially, these meetings will take place once a month on a weekday afternoon, but I hope as the project develops, there will be opportunities to meet in the evening as well. All BSL Wanstead activities are completely free.

The BSL Wanstead project welcomes anyone interested in learning, sharing and practising conversational BSL. If you would like to take part, please do get in touch.

For more information and to contact Lorna, visit


First church in Redbridge registered to conduct same-sex marriages

DSC_6436a©Geoff Wilkinson

Wanstead United Reformed Church has become the first church in Redbridge to be registered to conduct same-sex marriages.

Church members agreed to the change some time ago but have now received official confirmation that the Nightingale Lane venue can conduct ceremonies for all couples.

“It is important to us to be able to welcome all members of the community on equal terms. We also hope this will provide an opportunity for couples currently unable to marry in their own churches,” said a spokesperson.


Marshalling the queue to see Her Late Majesty lying in state


Wanstead resident Siân Paterson has spoke of her experience as a volunteer marshall for the queue to see Her Late Majesty lying in state:

“It was a challenging but rewarding week. I was feeling sore by the end, but I’ll never forget the experience. The crowds were fantastic and in high spirits. Witnessing the formation of the longest queue in history is literally the most British thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t think anyone imagined how long the queue was going to get, but in true British style, we all kept calm and carried on! Thank you, ma’am.”


Extended market to run alongside rescheduled Wanstead Festival

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Wanstead’s monthly community market on the High Street will, for the first time, coincide with the annual Wanstead Festival on 2 October.

“We are looking forward to being part of the Wanstead Festival experience. As usual, our stall holders will be offering a wide range of food and drink, gifts and art and crafts, so do come and explore,” said a spokesperson for Ace Events, which organises the market. Stalls will open at 10am and close at the later time of 5pm.

The market takes place on the first Sunday of each month.


Enjoy a healthy afternoon tea


A healthy afternoon tea party will take place at Christ Church this month to raise funds for after-school clubs in disadvantaged communities, helping them provide healthier food for children from low-income families.

Hosted by The Caroline Walker Trust as part of its World’s Healthiest Afternoon Tea initiative, the event will take place on 23 October from 2.30pm (adults: £15.75; kids: £8.50).



History comes home


Redbridge Museum will open a new permanent exhibition later this year exploring 200,000 years of local history. In the eighth of a series of articles, Museum Officer Nishat Alam looks at some of the items on show

The Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum opened in Snaresbrook in 1843. The building is now known as Snaresbrook Crown Court, but for over a century it was a boarding school. In this article, I look at the history of the asylum, later called the Royal Wanstead School, which will be explored in a new display about the borough’s historic institutions when Redbridge Museum re-opens in the next few months. 

We usually understand ‘orphan’ as someone who has lost both their parents, but the pupils of the Infant Orphan Asylum were children whose fathers had died and whose mothers could not afford to take care of them. The asylum only took in children from respectable, middle-class families, who could often buy the vote of the private donors who funded the asylum, ensuring their child’s admittance.

In this way, the asylum was not a traditional orphanage. The building itself is not the kind of place we tend to picture when we think of homes of its kind. Now Grade II listed, it was designed by two prominent architects and its foundation stone laid by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, who was the institution’s first royal patron. But despite its status amongst royals, the Infant Orphan Asylum was, after all, a boarding school where children were sent away from their families, often as infants. Pupils had a strict, disciplined schooling by the teachers and nurses who took care of them and, as with many in similar schools at the time, may have been quite miserable.

Donald Grist, who was there from 1903 to 1919, wrote in his memoir, A Victorian Charity: “Meals were simple and sparse: mince or stew with one vegetable… Drinks were cocoa, water and watered milk.” Meals were served on plates like the one pictured above, which will feature in the new museum display among other material, having been donated to us by a local resident who, in 1990, recovered various pieces of crockery used by the asylum from the shores of Eagle Pond. They paint a picture of a rather grim experience hidden behind a grand façade.

The asylum’s slightly ominous Victorian name was abandoned for the more inviting Royal Wanstead School in 1938. At this point, it began to operate as a school rather than an orphanage as social attitudes on education and care changed. Pupils attending at this time probably looked back at their time more fondly than their Victorian counterparts. 

As welfare provision improved in the 1950s, more children began to attend local schools and the Royal Wanstead School saw a decline in income and attendance until it could no longer afford to stay open. It finally closed in 1971. The building opened as a Crown Court on 26 November 1974.

Redbridge Museum is located on Clements Road, Ilford. Visit
To complete a survey on what else should go on display, visit


knock, knock the lawyers


From a Shakespeare line to a Churchill jibe, Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee has no objection to a few good lawyer jokes. Does he have a good sense of humour? You can be the judge of that

Shakespeare’s plays, as we know, are full of phrases which over 400 years later are still used in common speech.  One of the memorable lines from Henry VI, Part 2 is from the mouth of Dick ‘The Butcher’, who suggests one of the ways to improve the prospects of pretenders achieving the throne: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Perhaps he was thinking that lawyers maintain the privilege of the wealthy and powerful when, in the face of a violent mob, lawyers stand in their way seeking to protect the rule of law.

Jokes or insults about lawyers seem to have been with us for as long as the law has existed. I would be struggling to think of anything funny to say about accountants or architects, but for solicitors and barristers, the world is awash. How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? How many can you afford?

Or from yesteryear: after the freshly acquitted horse thief pleaded with the judge for an arrest warrant “for that dirty lawyer of mine,” the explanation was: “Your Honour, you see I didn’t have the money to pay his fee, so he went and took the horse I stole.”

Then there are the old ones. What is the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?  One is a scum-sucking-bottom-feeding scavenger. The other is a fish. And, why don’t sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.

Or from the USA: Lawyer: “I have some good news for you.” Client: “What good news? You lost my case, I was convicted of a murder I did not commit and was sentenced to die in the electric chair?” Lawyer: “That’s all true, but I got the voltage lowered.”

And so it goes on. Someone mistakenly left the cages of the reptile house open in the zoo and there were snakes slithering everywhere. The keeper tried frantically to get them back in their cages. Finally, he yelled: “Quick, call a lawyer. We need someone who speaks their language.”

What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer? A bad lawyer might let a case drag on for several years. A good lawyer knows how to make it last even longer.

There are hundreds of these humorous (?) contributions, but I think in my next life, I will choose another job and avoid being the butt of everybody’s jokes and even Winston Churchill’s jibe: “Lawyers occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000


New date for Wanstead Festival announced

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This year’s Wanstead Festival will now take place on Sunday 2 October.

The annual event was originally planned to take place on Sunday 18 September, the day before Her Majesty’s state funeral.

“Taking place on Christ Church Green, from 11am-6pm, the rescheduled festival promises a mix of music and performances across two main stages, and lots of family friendly attractions,” said a Vision RCL spokesperson.


Wanstead Festival 2022 is postponed

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This year’s Wanstead Festival has been postponed.

Originally scheduled to take place on Sunday 18 September, the community event has been called off following the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

“As a mark of respect to Her Majesty The Queen and The Royal Family Wanstead Festival has been postponed,” said a spokesperson for Vision RCL.

The festival will now take place on Sunday 2nd October with a day of activities and entertainment for all the family.


Wanstead vigil in memory of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II


Residents are invited to join a vigil on Christ Church Green this evening (12 September) in memory of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

“Please join us tonight in Wanstead as we honour the memory of Her Majesty The Queen and reflect upon the lasting impact she made on our world,” said the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal.

The event will start at 6pm, with those attending asked to gather near the new café on the green.