A Growing Society

fountain© Geoff Wilkinson

2022 has been an eventful year for a number of reasons, but it has also been a year when the Wanstead Society, a small charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing Wanstead, turned 25. Scott Wilding reports

Our volunteer-led organisation is made up of a group of people who give up their time to help improve where we live. And after a quarter of a century, we took time at our AGM last month to reflect on the differences we’ve made and how we can continue to improve.

This year, we have been involved in a number of important projects, including supporting the Wanstead Community Gardeners, Eagle Pond clean-up days and planning issues. A Greek proverb says that “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they shall never sit in.” Taking that to heart, we planted a new tree outside Gail’s Bakery earlier this year – one which we hope will be there long after we have gone. One of our overriding commitments will always be to protect and improve the natural environment where we can. 

Reflecting on what we have achieved in the last 25 years, one of our proudest moments was to turn the bricked-up flower beds around the old water fountain by Wanstead Station into blooming beds. In 2014, we persuaded the council to open them up, and now they provide a burst of colour, sustainable drainage and native wild flowers to allow bees and bugs to thrive. The Wanstead Community Gardeners do a fantastic job maintaining them. A small success that came from years of lobbying. 

But as we look ahead, we know that some issues continue to concern our members. The state of the Evergreen Field, the urban environment and planning issues, to name a few. We know there is a need for new and affordable homes, but a rush to build can never be at the expense of good, considered design. We remain committed to working with developers where we can to offer advice or help, and we hope that, together, we can achieve the best for all. 

The Wanstead Society itself needs to grow and change. Our executive board has lost some long-standing members over the last 12 months and we are always seeking new and enthusiastic people to guide what we should do next or how we can improve. 

Our board meets once a month for just an hour, but we set out what aims and projects should progress. Without our volunteers, we can’t do the work we have done over the last 25 years. So, if you are keen to help Wanstead, or have some new ideas, please get in touch; we’d love to have your help and advice. 

Finally, let me thank all those members past and present who have worked with us over the last quarter of a century. For a small volunteer organisation like ours, to have lasted this long is an achievement in itself. So, thank you, Wanstead!

For more information on the Wanstead Society, visit wnstd.com/ws or email info@wansteadsociety.org.uk