February 2023


Overheard in lockdown


An exhibition by Russell Boyce documenting the use of Wanstead Park during the pandemic is on show at the Temple. The photos are accompanied by snippets of overheard conversations

During the lockdown of February 2021, many had taken to daily exercise outdoors, which was permitted under the rules. Like me, most of us had slipped into a routine: same place, same time and often the same conversation.

Just about every day I would walk around Wanstead Park with my wife Verity. On one such walk, I noticed as people passed each other there was a tendency to give one another a wide ‘socially distanced’ berth and carry on with their conversation. I would often catch a snippet of those conversations out of context. I wondered what snippet others would hear from us. We were living in strange times, so I decided to capture it. 

When I explained my new documentary project to my family – which was to stop people, tell them I had overheard their conversation and ask to take their photo and add it to the caption – their response was: “You’re mad, and no-one will agree to that!”

Maybe people were attracted to a diversion from their routine or maybe they took pity on this madman with a camera, but everyone I asked said “yes”. So, a big thank you to each and every one of you.

Fast forward two years from the government’s 22 February 2021 announcement of the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, and so many of our priorities then are now a fading memory. The extra care of vulnerable loved ones, daily death tolls, talk of vaccines and anti-vaxxers, social distancing, numbers limited at weddings and funerals, toilet roll shortages, binge watching and no travel to name a few. But something that will never fade is the loss felt for loved ones who died during the pandemic. And so I hope these pictures and snippets of conversations serve as a reminder of where we all were, and just how far we’ve thankfully come.

Overheard in Lockdown – which is supported by The Stow Brothers, Epping Forest and the City of London – is on show outside the Temple until 26 March.


Public meeting called as Wanstead Youth Centre’s future remains uncertain


The future of Wanstead Youth Centre is uncertain following Redbridge Council’s claim that over £2.4m of refurbishments are needed to make it fit for purpose.

“The council is considering alternatives to renovating the building, including redevelopment,” said a spokesperson.

But campaigners have objected to the ‘loaded questions’ used in a consultation which runs until 13 March, and insist the Elmcroft Avenue venue is a vital resource in a good state of repair. “The flooring and lighting have only recently been improved, and this consultation suggests we are dealing with a fait accompli. However, it’s vital that as many people as possible respond,” said one centre user.

Subject to the council’s decision following the consultation, groups that use the centre will need to find alternative premises by May.

A petition to save the centre has been launched, and an on-site public meeting will take place on 7 March from 7.30pm.

Click here to access the consultation

Click here to view the petition



Help tackle climate change in Redbridge


Residents are invited to be part of the Redbridge Climate Forum and help tackle climate change in Redbridge.

Since launching in September 2021, the Redbridge Climate Forum has been a platform for bringing local communities together in the fight against climate change. With 70 members and growing, forum participants exchange ideas and highlight work taking place to support greener living and working in Redbridge.

The next forum meeting will take place on 28 February from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Redbridge Town Hall. The event will begin with an update on Redbridge’s Climate Change Action Plan from Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride, Councillor Jo Blackman. Special guest Jose Baladron from charity TRAID will also be speaking about the environmental impact of clothing waste and a new partnership project with Redbridge.

“There will also be lots of opportunities for networking, learning and ideas sharing with other active, eco-minded groups and individuals in the borough, as well as finding out more about local green projects and how to get involved,” said a council spokesperson.

The forum is free to attend, and is open to all local people, businesses and community groups. You don’t need to have attended any previous forums to take part.

Click here for more information on the February Climate Forum, and to register your interest in attending.


Quick change

grace©Sonia Cudd

Being made redundant was the best thing to happen to Art Group Wanstead member Sonia Cudd, who soon went on to combine her passions for art and dogs (particularly greyhounds)

I love art and over the years have attended many evening classes, mainly life drawing and painting, at some of London’s leading art schools. My art has been a way to relax after my stressful accountancy day job.

Having been made redundant in April 2021, I decided to apply myself to my art full-time, and I opened an Etsy shop to see if I’d be able to sell what I was producing. It was a good way to combine my business mind and creativity. I opted to produce something that would be easy to dispatch by post, which is how I got back into lino printing.

What I love about doing lino cuts is that it brings drawing, painting and sculpture together. I enjoy the process of carving into the lino and the anticipation of seeing my work come to life as I lift the paper from the inked lino to reveal the finished piece. It can be quite exciting!

It’s always best to choose a subject you are passionate about. Luckily for me, I had adopted a greyhound supermodel in 2013. Grace the greyhound was the most beautiful, elegant and yet goofy creature. She was alarmingly tall and a rare blue fawn colour. She was quite a celebrity among the retired greyhound community and a great ambassador for her breed. I named my business after her, Grace Cuddle Art. 

Greyhounds are quite a misunderstood breed and it is only once you meet one of the lucky dogs who have been adopted after retiring from racing that you get to see what wonderful pets they make. As well as being the sixth fastest land animal (for pub quizzers, the few land animals faster than a greyhound are a cheetah, pronghorn, springbok, blackbuck and lion).

Greyhounds are gentle, loving and lazy dogs. They also make wonderful muses with their doe eyes, big noses and powerful muscular form.

I have since diversified into depicting other dog breeds, the occasional fox and my most challenging subject: a human grandchild! I have done commissions using pastels, coloured pencils and paint, and I am thinking of introducing small ceramic art to my range this year.

A friend encouraged me to exhibit at the Local Makers Market in Wanstead and I absolutely loved meeting people and seeing their positive reactions to my work. I now regularly exhibit at a few other artisan markets. 

People do say that when you face a life challenge – in my case, being made redundant in my 50s – something better is around the corner and I can definitely say it was the best thing that could have happened to me, as it has enabled me to live my dream of being a professional artist.

Follow Sonia on Instagram or Facebook @gracecuddleart, or to view her Etsy shop, visit wnstd.com/cuddle


Words, thanks & hope


One year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. Eight months ago, Ilona Hlushchenkova and her family arrived in Wanstead, having fled Odesa on the first day of the invasion. A journalist in her home country, the mother-of-one is grateful for all the support she has received and is now looking to apply her talents in a new field 

On 24 February 2022, my life was divided into before and after. On this day, waking up at 5am from the sounds of explosions, my husband and I packed a small bag, took our one-year-old son and crossed the border between Ukraine and Moldova on foot. 

Moldova, Romania, England. Life in hotels, endless transfers and sleepless nights. In the first weeks of the war, we did not know where we would be tomorrow and what we would do next. Complete strangers helped us, and before the start of the war, I never thought the hearts of some were so pure, huge and full of love, while others were so full of hatred, anger and atrocities. 

On 24 February last year – the day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of our peaceful, free and beautiful country – we lost the sense of time, the sense of ourselves and of the future. We became the heroes of Remarque’s novels, only in real life, it does not look so romantic.

War is blood, grief, crippled bodies and crippled destinies. There is a heaviness on the soul, which is forever with you.

We had been looking for sponsors to host our family for a long time. Our friends from Ukraine, who arrived in England in the spring, helped us in our search. They wrote a Facebook post that was responded to by our current sponsors, Barbara and James Morris, two of the nicest people we know. On 1 June 2022, we settled in Wanstead and our lives took on the outline of our former existence. 

In Ukraine, we lived in Odesa, a wonderful city on the Black Sea. This is a place with great culture, wonderful architecture, amazing people and the most beautiful sunrises.

My first impression of Wanstead was that it is lively, green and multicultural. It is an oasis of calm in the midst of the hectic life of a big city. The locals are smiling and hospitable people. Many of you helped, whether it was finding a nursery, a bike or a hairdresser.

Life in a new country is very exciting and difficult at the same time. It feels like you become young and unintelligent again! You have to re-learn how to communicate. You study products in the store for longer and puzzle over how to complete the necessary documents or make an appointment with a doctor. New food, a new rhythm of life, new values ​​and constant homesickness.

Although we are physically safe, we are still living in war. Many of our relatives and friends decided to stay in Ukraine. Now, they are left without electricity, water and heat for long periods due to the constant shelling by Russian terrorists. Not a day passes without disturbing news from home, and we all live with one dream: for peace to come and for the terrorist state of Russia to cease to exist.

I have been a journalist for over 13 years. Since childhood, I knew I would write and steadily followed my dream. I have been a reporter, news anchor and website editor. I ran my own TV projects and worked as a press secretary and marketer. However, in England, my knowledge of the language is not enough to work as a journalist and I am looking for a new field of activity. My English level is B1. I am a sociable and purposeful person, open to everything new. My husband worked as a dentist before the war. Now, he has to follow a long and difficult path to confirm his diploma and continue to practice.

Our little son is my personal miracle. Thanks to him, we have the strength to go through all the trials we faced as refugees. Here and now, we can provide him with a calm and happy childhood, without explosions, sirens and alarms.

The contribution of the UK government and local people in helping Ukraine through these dark times cannot be overstated. But I ask you to continue this with the same zeal, because every day, in the very heart of Europe, civilians and our defenders die at the hands of Russian soldiers.

Please, keep helping in any way you can. There is no small or big help. Now, we need everything: things for those who were left without a home, generators, ammunition and much more. Any and all help is so greatly appreciated. We hug and thank you for all that you have already done.

To connect with Ilona on Facebook, visit wnstd.com/ilona


CV to Deceive


Being truthful in a job application is an obvious thing to do. If a CV is not honest, the applicant will likely bear serious consequences if found out, says Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee 

If a CV is not completed honestly, there will likely be consequences when found out. But are there degrees of untruthfulness or exaggeration of, say, qualifications or work experience, which will not render the employee liable to lose their job and possible criminal implications if the truth later emerges?

If the employer states that the individual would not have been appointed without the required qualifications and professional experience, then no matter how the employee performs his or her duties, criminal offences of fraud and obtaining a pecuniary advantage – that is obtaining a salary to which they were not entitled – will have been committed.

Stating, for example, that the applicant has a degree which will help secure the job or producing a false record of that degree is an obvious statement of serious wrongdoing. But what if the job application stated 15 years’ experience in a previous job was required, and the applicant had only five years of such experience? 

The first scenario of a false degree is obvious wrongdoing, while the second is an exaggeration but also untruthful. There are pressures on the vast majority of people to secure a job that will enable them to pay their bills, or not lose face with others around them. If an applicant’s false CV leads to a job appointment then criminal, civil and employment principles will apply.

People have faced jail sentences for job fraud and the Crown has the right to claim a confiscation order if the defendant has financially benefitted from their crimes. A Supreme Court case (R vs Andrewes in 2002) reviewed how the calculation of the defendant’s assets to be recovered is assessed.  This resulted in a methodology of recovery which removed the profit from the fraud. The outcome is likely to be a large payment to the Crown, not the victim-employer, because the purpose of a confiscation order is to recover criminal assets and not to make good the loss suffered by the employer. However, the court does have the discretion to award compensation to the employer if it deems it appropriate.

In the Andrewes case, the Supreme Court decided a middle-way approach, which resulted in part of the defendant’s previously paid salary being confiscated, not all the money he earned in the job. This still gave rise to an ordered payment to the Crown of over £96,000 with all the serious implications that will entail. 

In some cases, an employer may prefer to reach an agreement with the individual to secure their exit from the business. However, if the employer seeks financial compensation, then that is for the courts to decide.

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


Talking Stories

tonyTony Cranston

Tony Cranston is an author, teacher, storyteller and radio presenter. He has travelled the world collecting and telling stories. This month, he celebrates the sixth anniversary of his Talking Stories radio show

In 2017, I was asked by Ian Chambers – the producer and owner of award-winning East London Radio – to present a radio programme all about stories, poetry and the spoken word. And so Talking Stories was born, the first and only UK-based radio show dedicated to the art of storytelling. Six years later, 176 international storytellers have recounted 520 stories and 63 poets have presented 174 poems to a worldwide audience of over 43,000.

The remit of the programme is an equal split between London and the rest of the world. Among the authors and poets we have featured are Chris Ross from East Ham and Tom McColl from Stratford, as well as playwright Aine King from Walthamstow. They can be heard alongside Holocaust survivors, native American chiefs and many other storytellers, young and old, from every continent, many of whom have gone on to win awards around the world, and perhaps more importantly, publishing contracts.

A six-year-old from India, Shanaya Singh, was featured on our 47th show and has since achieved the record for being the world’s youngest storyteller and author, and is an ambassador for storytelling in India.

Talking Stories has hosted many international visitors at our studio in east London. South Korean sensation Seung Ah Kim – the country’s first professional contemporary storyteller – visited us during her worldwide tour and co-hosted the programme. Other guests have popped in from America, China and Canada.

Although the programme has an international audience, the Wanstead and Woodford areas are a potpourri of people, full of stories, and I want to air all those wonderful insights about living in east London and the memories of their forefathers. All those fabulous tales, myths and legends they grew up with, which introduces us to all the cultures and people we are and helps us understand one another. So, wherever you are reading, please do get in touch with your stories and poetry. We want to help you reach a wider audience.

In my years of travelling I have met many great storytellers and poets. Now, those stories and their tellers come to east London, and we send their stories back out to an ever-growing global and appreciative audience. Remember, as long as there have been people, there have been those who tell their story, and you can be one of them.

Storytelling is indeed a praiseworthy profession and the soul places storytellers high among sages and philosophers.

For more information on East London Radio and Talking Stories, visit eastlondonradio.org.uk

To contact Tony with your stories, email totocranston@hotmail.com


History comes home

badge© Redbridge Museum

Redbridge Museum will open a new permanent exhibition in the spring exploring 200,000 years of local history. In the 12th of a series of articles, Museum Officer Nishat Alam looks at some of the items on show

Two years ago, I launched Your Covid Story, a project focused on collecting stories about life in the borough during the coronavirus pandemic. I asked local people for photos, videos, artwork or accounts of their daily walks, working from home, and the ways their communities had come together to support one another during difficult times. In this article, I discuss some of the material I gathered and how these will factor into the collections of Redbridge Museum.

We’ve been collecting from local people for 20 years, and particularly for this kind of project, it’s been an effective way to build our collection with more contemporary stories. We see first-hand people’s passions and struggles through narratives that convey both positive emotion and the sad or mundane realities of living through a pandemic.

I spoke to several local groups working together to help each other, like the Redbridge Community Crafters who sewed scrubs and face masks for medical staff and have donated samples for our collection, and Redbridge For Education who sourced laptops for children studying from home during lockdown. I was especially touched by the work of Redbridge Foodbank, a pre-existing service that had to adjust its operations to comply with new measures and huge demand as more and more people turned to them during the crisis. 

Sophie Edwards of Wanstead sent in a moving account of her family’s lockdown activities and the impact of the pandemic on her work as a doctor. It’s accompanied by photos and a badge she had made for her staff (pictured here). I was also interested in recording how people spent their free time and gladly accepted rainbow artwork by local children and even a brilliant rainbow crochet shawl. 

The purpose of the project was to document the impact of the pandemic on Redbridge and to preserve some of these stories in the collections of Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre. A number of these will feature in a display in the new museum looking at the most recent events in our history, which will present the experiences and feelings of local people during the pandemic. The personal items will sit alongside material most of us have become familiar with over the last few years – from Covid test kits to a vaccine vial.

The response to my call-out was great and we’ve managed to gather a variety of stories, but if you have an object, photo or story that you think should be included in our collection, please do get in touch.

To contact Redbridge Museum, email redbridge.museum@visionrcl.org.uk

To complete a survey about the museum’s new displays, visit wnstd.com/rm


Park life


In the first of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Alessandro Riccarelli presents a montage of his shots of a kestrel in flight

I never used to be interested in photography, although my father made a living out of it. Until my father retired, I never thought I would spend time and money on it as a hobby. But in life, what you don’t find interesting now may well become a future passion!

That’s what happened to me. I love nature, so wildlife photography became my primary interest, although I shoot street scenes and portraits occasionally as well. Recording wildlife is challenging; you don’t know what you’re going to see and when, or if you are going to see anything at all!

I am based in Gants Hill and like to visit local parks. Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats are regular destinations. You can see a good variety of species in Wanstead, although unfortunately (for reasons we all know), many have disappeared. Wanstead Park is home to woodpeckers, kingfishers, herons and, of course, parakeets!

Kestrels are also fairly easy to spot, often seen hovering over grasslands hunting small rodents or large insects. Rarely do they miss a catch, so if you notice one diving, wait and you might be able to see something tucked in its talons as it rises. Pointing a camera up a tree with a kestrel perching for prolonged periods can be very tiring, and holding your equipment steady becomes difficult. When this happens, I think about professional wildlife photographers spending days, if not weeks, to get one shot, so I shouldn’t complain about half an hour!

I’m always intrigued by what will happen next and I like challenging situations. Birds of prey don’t have an easy life out there; in fact, just moments after I captured the female kestrel opposite catching her rodent prey, magpies started to chase her, trying to steal a free meal.

I thank the editor for choosing these pictures and I will be taking many more in Wanstead Park, where every outing can be unique.

To view more of Alessandro’s wildlife photos, visit wnstd.com/riccarelli


A lot to lose

allotmentRedbridge Lane West allotments after December’s snowfall. ©Stephen Lines

In the 16th of a series of articles by plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments, Sally Parker explains her concerns following planning approval for maintenance work at the adjacent gas station

Plot holders at Redbridge Lane West allotments are still waiting to find out when maintenance and upgrade work at the adjacent Cadent gas station will start. Upon completion of the work, a strip of allotment land along the current Cadent boundary will be added to the neighbouring gas station site to accommodate a new security fence.

While the work is in progress, Cadent will take over part of the allotment site, including nine allotment plots. Hoardings will be erected to fence off Cadent’s building works from the remainder of the allotment site, the main gate on Redbridge Lane West and the toilets will be moved to accommodate construction traffic, new toilets and a small car park will be built and water tanks moved. All the mature trees and other greenery along the allotment’s current boundary with the gas station, together with some trees on Redbridge Lane West, will be removed.

There are 16 conditions attached to the planning approval granted by Redbridge Council in December. These cover a range of matters, including environmental provisions and protections, allotment facilities, noise mitigation, working times, construction traffic and a requirement that the allotments be reinstated within 20 months of the start of work. The site is classed as a statutory allotment, so before any work can begin, government approval is needed.

Early last year, Cadent offered several options for the nine sets of plot holders who will be losing their plots. Individual agreements were negotiated and signed in July 2022, with a view to the nine plots becoming vacant by winter 2022. Four of the affected plot holders agreed to move permanently to new plots because their current plots will be much smaller upon completion of the work. Cadent has agreed to carry out the work needed to prepare the new plots, which should have been ready last summer. Clearance work finally started last November, so work is several months behind schedule.

Shortly after the plot preparation work started, it became clear there were big differences between the agreed specifications and the work being undertaken. Just before Christmas, we learnt Cadent’s gardeners had been given inadequate specifications. The affected plot holders all complained to Cadent and on-site meetings are being organised. We are hoping our new plots will be ready in time for spring, having missed the opportunity to plant or sow overwintering crops or to get permanent plantings established.

Plot holders are disappointed with the slow progress which, together with the poor communication from Cadent, is causing unnecessary upset and concern that Cadent may not deliver on its promises when the site is reinstated after completion of the works.

For more information on Cadent’s plans, visit wnstd.com/cadentplan


Wanstead resident explores TfL services in a series of YouTube videos


A young Wanstead resident has launched a series of YouTube videos documenting Transport for London services by postcode region.

Beginning with E11, 12-year-old Riku Fryderyk – who is also a published author – explores the landmarks of the area alongside an overview of the Tube and bus network. “Sometimes, I need to take a break from writing! Whilst my mum is looking for a literary agent for my newest book, I like to indulge in my passion for trains,” said Riku.V

isit wnstd.com/tflbypostcode


Listen and learn

IMG_1862David Silkoff

In the 29th of a series of articles, David Bird discusses the work of Redbridge Music Society and introduces pianist David Silkoff, who will be performing at Wanstead Library this month

Two essential aims of Redbridge Music Society, now in its 74th season, are to bring high-quality, live recitals to Redbridge and to champion musicians who live and work within the borough. This month, at Wanstead Library, local pianist David Silkoff will give a Valentine’s Day recital, featuring popular works by Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann and others. 

David Silkoff studied piano with Lina Collins, a pupil of Mathilde Verne, who was a pupil of Clara Schumann. He won a Junior Exhibition to the Guildhall School of Music where he studied with Ieuan Roberts and later became a full-time student at the Royal College of Music, studying under concert pianists Kendall Taylor and Cyril Smith. During this time, he won a Martin Scholarship – awarded to those with exceptional musical talent – for further study. David also studied at the Royal Academy of Music for two years, where he won the Lloyd Hartley prize. 

In 1971, David performed Beethoven’s 3rd piano concerto at Snape Maltings with the Redbridge Musici Orchestra in the presence of Benjamin Britten, who described his playing as “electrifying”. And David’s Wigmore Hall debut in 1975 was highly praised in the Review of London Recitals in which particular mention was made of his “glowing technique” and “sensitive playing”.

David has performed at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall and other London concert venues and has also performed as a soloist and accompanist in France, Holland, Luxembourg, Vienna and Budapest. His repertoire ranges from Bach and Beethoven to Schoenberg and Ligeti, and in 2015, he gave the premiere performance of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, transcribed for solo piano.

David is highly sought after as an accompanist in duos, chamber music and for auditions and piano examinations. Over recent years, he has given performances of many piano concertos, including the complete Beethoven concertos, the Mendelssohn G minor and the Schumann, Grieg, Brahms 1st and Rachmaninov 2nd concertos.

As a performer of popular music, David entertains for corporate events and has played at many top London venues, such as the Ritz and Dorchester hotels, Whitehall and the Guildhall. David also has a busy teaching career in schools and at his studio; many of his students are now following successful careers as musicians themselves.

This month’s recital is the ideal way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! So, please do come along and join us.

David Silkhoff will perform at Wanstead Library on 14 February from 8pm (tickets on the door; visitors: £12; members: £8). Call 07380 606 767. Redbridge Music Society is supported by Vision RCL and affiliated to Making Music.