December 2023


Plans to transform St Gabriel’s Church hall into accessible community space


A crowdfunding campaign to improve St Gabriel’s Church hall in Aldersbrook has raised £12,432.

“We aim to transform our hall into a sustainable and accessible community space and to reduce our carbon footprint while making the hall more widely available to the community,” said Father Martyn Hawkes.

Fundraising by the Friends of St Gabriel’s has already seen the installation of solar panels on the hall roof, with more fundraising initiatives planned in the run-up to the centenary of the hall’s opening in 2027.


A Testing year?


As we venture into 2024, we must remember to limit the pressure we put on the youth in our community, says Wanstead resident and A level student Zadie Larsson

As an A level student, it becomes hard not to associate this New Year with impending exams and uncertainty over my next steps. Whether you are choosing to go to university, an apprenticeship or straight into the field of work, the prospects of moving on from school into the adult world can be scary.

There is also the added pressure of being sure of what career you want to pursue. Many young people have an immense feeling of uncertainty over choosing their prospective career options. It is important to normalise the feelings of uncertainty that many youths feel.

For a lot of us, 2024 marks the most important exam year yet, the impending dread of A levels looms, and instead of being excited for the New Year, young students in the community can feel extremely anxious. I invite the adults reading this to limit that pressure as much as possible and to feel compassion towards your children, grandchildren or friends. Anxiety can show itself in a myriad of ways, the NHS saying that signs of anxiety can be seen in ‘irritable’ behaviour, demonstrating how easy it is to confuse ‘acting out’ with genuine worry. Children who find schoolwork a struggle, or those with special educational needs or mental health difficulties, may be more likely to experience academic anxiety. However, so can high achievers, particularly children who are overly perfectionist or whose parents have very high ambitions for them. No one is exempt from these feelings; there is such a broad spectrum of what anxiety can look like for each individual person. For a lot of people, exams add to – or actually cause – the anxiety that a lot of students feel. Academic anxiety is likely to increase as children get older, although primary school teachers have reported anxiety in their pupils too. It can be argued whether such young children need this academic pressure put on them. However, the only thing we can control is the way in which we help our children and young adults through these difficult times.

In this New Year, I urge you and your families to pay attention to the small signs that you may miss in your children and to understand that 2024 might not hold the same excitement for everyone.

To the youth of our community, this year might seem scary and full of change, but with change comes excitement! If we try to have the most positive mindset we can and flip the negatives into positives, then this year won’t seem so daunting. If we start to mentally prepare ourselves now, then one big change can be broken down into small, manageable ones, ultimately resulting in an easier transition into adulthood.

Wishing everyone the most fabulous New Year! If you feel scared or nervous about exams, don’t worry. We are all in this together.

For information and support on the issues covered, visit


Reverend Reflections


In the fifth of a series of articles, Revd James Gilder of Wanstead Parish says thank you to all who offered support and donations after thieves stole a safe from Christ Church a few weeks before Christmas

Just before Christmas, Christ Church suffered a break-in. The thieves hacked a hole in the front doors of the church and made a real mess inside, making off with an entire safe, which contained cash we were collecting for the Children’s Society. Even more sadly, the safe also contained all the parish records of baptisms, weddings, confirmations and interments in our Garden of Remembrance. These will have no value to the thieves and may be discarded, so please do keep your eyes peeled for these hardback books full of handwritten ledgers.

CCTV showed it was two young men who broke in, in the dead of night. Their getaway vehicles of choice were a bicycle and an e-scooter, and one of them – in a feat of acrobatics – somehow managed to balance the safe on the e-scooter and then proceeded to drive off, sitting on the top of the safe. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Our friends at the United Reformed Church were also subject to an attempted break-in that same night, and two other local churches were burglarised in the preceding weeks.

It took a little while for us to get back on our feet, especially as lots of things, like Christmas orders of service, had been carefully prepared and printed, and were now scattered all over the office, amongst bits of all the furniture the thieves had broken. The initial shock quickly turned to unexpected joy, however, as offers of help began to flood in. In the space of 24 hours, the good people of Wanstead donated more than £2,000 to replace the Christingle collection – far more than we had originally raised. I had over 50 offers of help from individuals to clear up the mess, and offers of painting and carpentry, too. I would like to use this space to say a huge thank you to everyone. Your goodwill far outstripped the negativity and evil committed by the thieves. 

It feels rather like Wanstead has been beset with crime over the last year. I have no stats to back this up, merely anecdotes of some terribly violent things happening on our High Street, and I see for myself the antisocial behaviour that goes on in the churchyard at night. However, in this instance, the degree to which Wanstead people showed how much they cared proves that – no matter how bleak things can feel – there is a goodness in us that can beat the worst. 

January is a time when that bleakness can feel overwhelming. It’s a time of tax returns, dark days and bad weather. The good news is, Easter comes early this year! If you find yourself unable to shake off the gloom, a reminder that our mental health support group meets in Christ Church vestry at 5.30pm on the first Sunday of every month.

Thanks again everyone – I’m truly grateful for all your support.

To contact Reverend James Gilder, email


Local artists invited to join residency programme at funeral directors

compassArt on display at Compassionate Funerals

Local artists are invited to display their work in the reception area of Compassionate Funerals on Hermon Hill.

“We had an amazing year hosting artists in 2023. If you would like to showcase your work at our lovely new shop in 2024, we are now taking bookings for our next season of Artists in Residence. Each artist has a two-week residency, with the opportunity to hold a private view. It’s all part of breaking down the barriers and preconceptions people often have about visiting a funeral director,” said Allistair Anderson.

Call 020 8989 0493


Bereavement cafe update


A monthly evening bereavement cafe will launch in Wanstead on 9 January.

Hosted by volunteers, the session will take place from 7pm to 8pm at Christ Church, offering support and guidance for anyone struggling with feelings of loss. The new evening session will continue on the second Tuesday of each month and is in addition to an established morning session (10.30am) on the third Tuesday of the month.

Call 020 8530 8743


Wanstead Historical Society explores the dark side of East London

DSCF0707-Printed-Whitechapel-High-Street-B-&-W-_-Whitechapel High Street. ©Geoff Wilkinson

Tour guide and author David Charnick will discuss the criminal history of the East End at the Wanstead Historical Society’s meeting on 8 January.

“My talk looks at historical crime in the Whitechapel area and considers how some criminal activity develops with the times, while other crime remains constant,” said David, whose book, The Dark Side of East London, is a study of 18th- and 19th-century crime and wrongdoing. The presentation will take place at Wanstead Library from 7.30pm (visitors: £3).

Call 07949 026 212


Council calls on government to help fund repair of Broadmead Road


Redbridge Council is petitioning the government for financial support to repair Broadmead Road bridge in Woodford, which has been closed to traffic since July. Essential structural repairs are expected to cost at least £25m.

“The Prime Minister’s decision to cancel the northern leg of HS2 means billions are available to help fund transport projects… We are calling on the Transport Secretary to allocate urgent funding to help cover the enormous cost of this unforeseen project,” said Councillor Kam Rai.



Swans on ice: they’re probably not stuck, but dogs can make them skid!


Local swan rescue volunteers have offered advice amidst concerns over cold conditions.

“We get numerous calls when lakes are frozen regarding waterfowl being ‘stuck’ on ice. But birds are well adapted to the cold. Swans have 25,000 feathers, which form a complete shell, meaning their skin doesn’t actually come into contact with the ice or water at all, and their legs have a special blood supply. But please do control dogs around icy water. Panicked waterfowl will flee and skid on the ice, which can cause nasty injuries,” said Louisa Green.


Wanstead councillor speaks at inquiry into airport expansion plans


Wanstead Village councillor Jo Blackman spoke at the public inquiry into London City Airport’s expansion plans earlier this month.

“Redbridge Council has consistently opposed City Airport’s plans for more flights in the early morning and Saturday afternoons. Wanstead is under the current flight path and particularly impacted by these plans that would lead to more noise and air pollution, as well as exacerbating the climate crisis,” said Councillor Blackman.

The inquiry will continue at Stratford Town Hall in the New Year.


New Woodford Police Hub will be a base for Wanstead police teams


A new police hub on the Orchard Estate in Woodford will become a base for local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, including those covering Wanstead Park and Wanstead Village wards.

“The new hub will be home to at least 20 officers, working in partnership with council staff and Redbridge housing officers to prevent antisocial behaviour and support people across the west of Redbridge,” said a Redbridge Council spokesperson. Local police will continue to be based in Barkingside until the hub is operational in the summer.


Save more in 2024: Village Vouchers available from Wanstead Library

Screenshot 2023-11-27 at 12.06.33©Geoff Wilkinson

Village Vouchers booklets are now available to buy at Wanstead Library.

Jointly published by the Wanstead Village Directory and the South Woodford Village Gazette, each booklet contains 100 discount vouchers for shops, salons, cafés and pubs across the two areas. “There are some great offers to get people shopping locally, like a free slice of cake at The Larder, a free dessert at The Cuckfield and 20% off at Wanstead Dry Cleaners,” said editor Lee Marquis.

The booklets (£4) are valid until 31 March.