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A Catford classic

A FREE NEWSPAPER FOR LEWISHAM

The Lewisham Ledger I S S U E 1 3 | O C TO B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0

Fun times at Franco's Italian idyll PA G E 14

Hidden reserve

Nurturing nature in Crofton Park PAG E S 12, 13

Torridon titans The story of the shop around the corner PAGE 20

Striking a chord

Deptford's Midi Music Company turns 25 PA G E S 1 0 , 1 1


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TH E LE WI S H A M L E DG E R

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Welcome to The Lewisham Ledger, a free newspaper for the borough. he October/November edition features the Patel family who run Torridon Convenience store in Catford as our cover stars. The family have been stalwarts of the Corbett Estate community since 1984 and are the first to be included in a new series called Family Album, which looks at local families with an interesting story to share. You will notice that the paper contains the latest edition of The Peckham Peculiar, our sister title covering the Peckham and Nunhead area, within its centre pages. The Lewisham Ledger is also being distributed inside the Peculiar, meaning it is available to read across the SE15 postcode as well as the whole of Lewisham borough. We trialled this as an experiment last time we came out and it proved popular, so we have decided to repeat it once again. We rely solely on advertising to stay in print and would like to say a big thank you to all the brilliant local businesses who've supported us over the last couple of years, especially in these continuing uncertain times. If you run a business or organisation and are interested in advertising in our next edition, which will be published in early December, please email lewishamledger@gmail.com to find out more. We would love to hear from you. Finally, we dedicate this issue to the memory of Maggie Khondoker, the legendary Lewisham cafe owner who passed away earlier this year. Our writer Seamus Hasson looks back at her life on pages 8 and 9. We hope you enjoy the issue.

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The Lewisham Ledger

One of Lewisham Council's new "modal filters" on Leahurst Road, Hither Green

Traffic scheme under urgent review Lewisham Council is “working urgently to plan changes” to its Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN), which has split opinion locally – with some people backing the scheme, some calling for modifications or an extension and others petitioning to scrap it altogether. Mayor Damien Egan said “the vast majority of residents I speak to support the principle of LTNs”, but admitted that the current scheme is “causing problems in neighbouring areas”. “We are very aware of this and we are working urgently to plan changes which we hope will see things improve,” he said. “We will share those ideas with residents before implementing any more changes. “All our measures are a trial. If we cannot make the scheme work we won’t continue with it. But we should take this opportunity to try and make it work because if we can get it right, the benefits will be felt by thousands of residents.” The LTN came into force this summer as a response to the pandemic, aiming to promote safe walking and cycling, enable social distancing and “provide alternatives to private car use”. It has seen “modal filters” – like the one shown above – installed on streets across Lee and the eastern side of Hither Green, using bollards and planters to prevent traffic from passing through. A spokesperson for Make Lee Green, a group campaigning for LTNs in SE12

Cover photograph Torridon Convenience by Gemma Day Editors Mark McGinlay, Kate White (Kate is currently on maternity leave) Creative directors Andy Keys, Marta Pérez Sainero Type designers a2-type.co.uk londontype.co.uk Photographer Lima Charlie Features editor Emma Finamore Sub-editor Jack Aston

and SE13, said: “Low traffic neighbourhoods are so important in a place like Lewisham and Lee Green, where 54% of people don’t have access to cars. “We love that the council is making changes fast and iterating the scheme to improve it. It’s part of a wider, national change that we hope will become permanent. “Like many people, local residents supporting our campaign were too afraid to cycle in the area. But when the LTN was announced many bought a bike and have ridden most days since, including parents and kids on the school run. Personally, this scheme has changed our lives for the better, and we want as many people as possible to share that experience.” However, residents living just outside the LTN say traffic on their streets has increased as a result, with some calling for the scheme to be extended into western Hither Green and 11,000 people signing a petition to remove it entirely. Commenting on the petition, Sean Lo said the LTN has “merely displaced traffic to the surrounding areas”, adding: “While some areas may have benefited from less traffic, it comes at the expense of neighbouring areas suffering a great deal more congestion and pollution.” Tracey McLevy said: “The changes have dramatically impacted the local area, creating gridlock and traffic jams that are causing static traffic, belching out pollution as children walk to school nearby. A journey that would have tak-

Contributors Rosario Blue, Gemma Day, Hugo Greenhalgh, Seamus Hasson, Ronnie Haydon, Jessica Kendrew, Nikki Spencer, Paul Stafford Marketing and social media Mark McGinlay

en five minutes can now take 45. It is breathtakingly awful.” Jeenosia Gunalan said: “I live on Brownhill Road with my five-month-old son. We’ve seen nothing but idling traffic in front of our house, and worse still we now have to sit in traffic if we want to get away from the pollution. Why does my family have to suffer pollution to save others in already quiet roads?” Paul Lomax from One Lewisham, a residents’ group campaigning for LTNs to “benefit the health and wellbeing of the many, not the few”, said: “We don’t want our gain to be at someone else’s cost. This is why we do not support extending the LTN changes, otherwise more traffic will be pushed onto residential main roads and into other wards. “We share the goal of reducing traffic, but it has to be done fairly and equitably – it’s clear 14 weeks in that this scheme is not working, with pollution worsened. “Some are calling for the scheme to be scrapped, but we advocate trialling timed closures at peak hours, with access via ANPR [automatic number-plate recognition] for Lewisham residents and key workers. This would lessen the impact on surrounding roads, while dramatically reducing rat-running. “Meanwhile, we want investment which genuinely encourages active travel. Longer term goals include ULEZ to the M25, public transport such as the Bakerloo line, and reducing speeds on residential main roads – including the south circular and the A20.”

Editorial and advertising lewishamledger@gmail.com Follow us @lewishamledger @lewishamledger @lewishamledger lewishamledger.tumblr.com


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Watch Blurt at the Birds Nest pub

People power in the park A new community fitness group for Lewisham that mixes “fitness, music and positive community relations” has sprung up out of lockdown. Maroon Fitness was formed by three friends who were meeting to exercise outdoors during the pandemic: events manager Aaron Barnett-Clarke, youth worker Ria Dyce and personal trainer Arral Smith. What began as a handful of locals grew into a WhatsApp group of more than 100, who now meet for regular classes run by Maroon Fitness. “During that time, we lost our jobs and so we would go to the park on a more regular basis to work out and just keep our heads clear,” said Aaron. “It grew to about six people. When it got to six, we said, ‘Why don’t we have a WhatsApp group so we can all stay in

Above: Maroon Fitness started with a handful of locals and now has over 100 people in its WhatsApp group

contact and communicate’. And then it just continued to grow. “Our ultimate goal is to show people that no matter where they currently are in life they are still able to start a fitness journey and get stronger.” The free socially distanced exercise sessions are held in Cornmill Gardens, behind the Glass Mill Leisure Centre on Loampit Vale. They’ve attracted locals aged from 18 to 65 and the trio have spent their own money to provide water and fruit for attendees. The sessions, which take place three times a week, have proved a valuable means for the community to stay active – and crucially, connected – during lockdown. Ria said: “As a youth worker, I think it’s important connecting with people and ensuring that they have good mental health, hearing their stories and just

creating connections during isolation. Loads of people have made lifelong friends from coming to our sessions, who they’re going to use for support, for company, for education. A lot of links have been made.” The classes also incorporate music ranging from the Spice Girls to MC Hammer, “to take people’s minds off the sweat and the hard work” while they exercise. Explaining the origins of the name Maroon Fitness, Aaron said: “The ‘Maroon mentality’ is something I took from my ancestors, who were Maroons in the Caribbean. “They were accepted by the indigenous people from the islands that they arrived on, so it’s [about] each person helping another person, embracing your neighbour and just growing a community out of it.”

How migrants helped make the NHS The stories of people who came to Britain to work for the NHS since it began in 1948 are the focus of a new exhibition. About a quarter of NHS staff are nonBritish nationals or from a minority ethnic background, rising to around a third of nurses and almost half of doctors. Many of them have found themselves on the front line during the pandemic. Heart of the Nation is a multimedia exhibition by the Migration Museum in Lewisham Shopping Centre, which explores the key role migrants have played in the NHS over the last 72 years. Available to view online, with a physical display set to launch when the museum reopens in late October, it puts this vital story centre stage through oral histories, archival materials, art, animation and data.

“As the outpouring of affection during the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, the NHS is a source of national pride and is often painted as a distinctly British success story. Yet the NHS simply wouldn’t exist without the generations of people from all over the world who have built, grown and staffed it,” said the museum’s head of creative content Aditi Anand. “Heart of the Nation highlights the vital role that migrants have always played in the NHS and the extent to which, just like the NHS, migration is central to the very fabric of who we are in Britain – as individuals, as communities and as a nation.”

Nurse Lotte Fuchs, from Czechoslovakia

IMAGE COURTESY OF NICK FOX

See Heart of the Nation: Migration and the Making of the NHS online now via heartofthenation.migrationmuseum. org

A Deptford-based filmmaker has released a film on local band Blurt. Stewart Morgan Hajdukiewicz has made his 45-minute shoot of the band’s performance at the Birds Nest pub in 2014 available to watch on demand, with all profits going to the artists. “[Blurt have] long been based in Deptford and the leader of the band and the vocalist and songwriter, Ted Milton, is a long-term Deptford resident, so it was a real ‘home fixture’,” Stewart said. “It was a special occasion with friends in the crowd, and there’s a real intensity to those gigs when they’re in Deptford.” He hopes that fans of the band will pay a small fee to watch the film and support them while they can’t play live. “I’m trying to spread the word and tell everyone who might be interested that this film exists,” he said. “It might go some way to fill – in a small way, anyway – to fill that gap, that sort of void, because a lot of music fans out there aren’t getting their fix of live music, as well as the bands and musicians who are not getting to perform.” Blurt formed in 1979 and have become known over the years for their avant-garde sound and intense live shows. “They are a very important band that has never stepped in. They’ve never played the game,” Stewart said.

Blurt's Ted Milton on saxophone “They’ve never sold out and done things that would bring quick commercial success. They are in a school of one. And that is a rare thing for a band at any time, but particularly now.” Stewart edited the film alongside footage of Deptford and Lewisham that was shot at the time. “It’s about putting the performance in a location, which was the Lewisham of 2014-15, which was very much an area in flux,” he said. “That is still going on of course, but back then it was really first happening with all the building that was going on. The creation of new and very expensive flats and the destruction of empty spaces, or filling of empty spaces.” The film also celebrates small music venues like the Birds Nest, which make the area so special. “That is one of the few surviving and thriving independent venues with music, and it’s been there all through the changes,” he said. “It may have changed hands now and again, but it’s had that element of live music and an open and welcoming atmosphere. That is an important and a significant achievement in this day and age, when you see pubs closing down left, right and centre.” Watch the film for £6 at vimeo.com/ ondemand/blurtliveindeptford


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Local man goes the extra mile A Lewisham resident is attempting to run every street in the borough. Adam Pope works for a charity based in Folkestone but moved to Lewisham in April and came up with the idea over lockdown. “Before I left, I ran every street in Folkestone,” he said. “It’s just something that I had on my bucket list to do before I went. It took about a month but I managed to do that and map it all out. “When I came up here I was looking

to get to know the area. I wasn’t able to meet up with people, so I thought I’d just go round and explore while the streets were quiet. “I realised that Lewisham borough is quite a typical size, about 36 square miles. So I decided that I’d give it a go. It’s a reasonable challenge, it will probably take quite a few months and I can fit it in around work and family. I’ve been doing that ever since, mapping it down every street that I do.” So far, Adam’s running has been a great way to get to know the borough better. He estimates he is about twothirds of the way through, although it is difficult to calculate just how many streets there are. The steep terrain has also made for some tough runs. “I can tell you what the hardest part was and that’s round Honor Oak, because it’s so hilly. I’m dreading doing Sydenham Hill – I’m leaving that till last.

PHOTO BY PAUL STAFFORD

Road runner: Adam Pope is running every street in Lewisham

Black History Month is back Black History Month returns this October, with a jam-packed programme ranging from art installations to film to an event exploring the possibility of a new Lewisham carnival. One of the highlights from this year’s varied line-up is Rose Sinclair’s Caribbean Front Room, an installation in the window of Catford’s Broadway Theatre, which is in situ from now until December. Running alongside it is a photographic exhibition by Des Willie and later in the month, a film titled It’s More Than Just a Month. Edited by Lewisham-based Gez Morris, whose credits include Top Boy and Save Me, the film features interviews with residents and archive footage, and will be projected on to the theatre window. Elsewhere in the borough, a market and exhibition by black creatives and creators, featuring moving image, photography, illustration, crafts and more will take place on 24 October at Beckenham Place Mansion. Some events are happening virtually this year. Carnival expert Pax Nindi, founder of Global Carnivalz, will be hosting an online carnival consultation event on 18 October that will give residents the chance to share their ideas for a carnival in Lewisham. Special guests will talk about how a carnival could contribute positively to the borough. Pax, who has run carnivals in the UK and around the world for 20 years, said: “I’m often travelling abroad but the pandemic has finally had me at home. “I started looking at what could be achieved in my borough while at the same time getting embarrassed that I have helped a lot of cities start a carnival except my Lewisham.

Carnival expert and Forest Hill resident Pax Nindi

“The last proper carnival in Lewisham had a lot of potential and involved communities in Deptford and the surrounding areas. I ran it and that’s how I started my carnival career. “I’m conducting a wide and open consultation on what Lewisham residents would like to see in a local carnival or if indeed they want one. After the results my company will build a Lewisham carnival if the community want it.”

New grocery store for SE23 A Forest Hill couple have opened an independent grocery store in SE23. Max Hargreaves and Cloé Duchalet, who have lived locally for 10 years, launched Sans Store on Brockley Rise. It sells produce from south-east London suppliers including freshly baked bread from the Snapery Bakery, fruit and veg from Ted’s Veg, Mont 58 coffee, Peckham Preserves and Lewisham tea. “We have been flat out since we opened,” said Max. “The local commu-

nity have been amazing and are truly great at supporting local businesses.” For 32 years the shop was Brockley News and its owner, Mr Songara, is now their landlord. “He’s very pleased that we have used the space to continue to serve his local community”, said Max. “We did all the work ourselves within three weeks of getting the keys, although not the signage or the floor as our DIY skills don’t stretch that far.” Sans is the French word for without. “The name was my idea as a nod to my

Sans Store is open seven days a week

Also taking place online is the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust’s Black Third Sector Summit 2020, on 26, 28 and 30 October. Key black voluntary sector stakeholders will gather virtually to examine black third sector agenda issues, including black economic empowerment and young people.

“I think I’ve done around 200 miles so far in distance. It’s approximate, but it’s about 200, so I reckon it’s about 300 miles [in total].” Adam is no stranger to a challenge and has nearly completed another one of his targets for the year. “My challenge for 2020 was to do 20 different parkruns in under 20 minutes. Obviously moving to London, there’s loads of parkruns available. I’ve done 19, I’m going to do my last one next week.” He’s also lined up another test of endurance to see more of London. “A local guy here was looking for someone to run the Capital Ring with him, so I’m going to be doing that on 17 October. It’s 78 miles and I’m going to try and do that non-stop. “That will be my longest run. We’re looking to do it in 16 hours. You don’t know until the day how easy or hard you’re going to find it.”

Community cookbook published A cookbook featuring 100 recipes made with ingredients from Catford’s local and specialist food shops is now in print. The Catford Cookbook celebrates the area’s rich past, present and future, taking readers on a culinary adventure from high street to side street via the market, picking out ingredients with complex flavours and interesting stories. Each recipe was chosen after speaking with local people about what they cook now and the dishes they ate growing up, especially those meals they miss and would love to eat again. Recipes like coconut prawns can be made with shellfish bought at H&S Fish Market and Japanese breadcrumbs from FLK Chinese Groceries, served with mango sour chutney by local brand Pat & Pinky’s. Spiced lamb pie is made with yufka pastry from PFC Turkish supermarket and everything you need for Polish hunter’s stew is available at Korona Polish Deli. Dishes are split into chapters of meat, poultry, fish, vegetarian, vegan and sweets, with something for every season. Illustrated throughout by local artist Nancy Ellis, the book aims to encourage people to see Catford with fresh eyes and appetite, “immersing themselves in the depth and deliciousness of the area” while supporting local, independent businesses.

For full listings and timings, visit iamlewisham.uk/black-history-month

The Catford Cookbook is available to buy for £20 from houseofcatford.com, with profits going to the Sickle Cell Society and Catford Fridge Station

French partner,” Max said. “The shop is without meat, fish etcetera and in the new year we hope to expand to withoutwaste products such as refillable laundry detergents and cosmetic goods.” The duo are also applying for an alcohol licence so they can sell local craft beers, wines and spirits. Max previously worked in tech and Cloé still works as a teacher but helps in the store at evenings and weekends. The shop’s surplus food is donated to Lewisham Foodbank and there’s a donation basket inside too, said Max. “The number of people facing food insecurity has quadrupled with Covid-19 so we are doing what we can to help.”

The Catford Cookbook is out now


PROMOTIONAL FEATURE 374

TH WI HAM R GU OST CTO THEE LLE E WI S HSAM LE DLGEEDG R E AU / SEB PTEERM/ N BEO R V2E0MBE 18 R 2020

THE SIXTH FORM AT ST DUNSTAN’S COLLEGE – A CELEBRATION OF SELF-DISCOVERY AND INDIVIDUAL SPIRIT

St Dunstan’s College Sixth Form, located in Catford, south London, represents the journey through which each student attains their education maturity, and forms the foundation which so much of their later lives will be built on. The College celebrates, encourages and bring to fruition the self-discovery and individual spirit of each student, working in partnership to release potential and foster excellent social and intellectual skill sets. As part of a huge redevelopment of the College site, a new Sixth Form Centre will open in April 2021 transforming the sixth form experience for students joining in September 2021 and beyond. The beautiful new area will include a large café with social and study spaces plus an additional quiet, independent study area overlooking the bright and airy atrium of the new development. Current students have

been involved with the design process and the study spaces have been modelled on university style learning environments. The new development, which is the most significant since the College’s foundation in 1888, will also include a new state-of-the-art STEM centre, which will provide students will access to cutting-edge facilities for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. A new Performing Arts Centre will also open housing the Music and Drama Departments. Speaking about the new facilities, St Dunstan’s headmaster, Mr Nicholas Hewlett said: ‘This represents the most significant redevelopment of the College site since the very first bricks were laid. ‘I feel sure our founders and benefactors would be proud of the innovative new buildings that are being constructed, as records show they were

intent that a St Dunstan’s education should be ‘ahead of the current time’. ‘As one of the first schools in the world to have invested in science and technology laboratories, it seems fitting that 130 years on, we are creating stateof-the-art STEM facilities for the next generation of Dunstonians.’ All Sixth Form students embark on the St Dunstan’s Diploma – the defining aspect of Sixth Form life. The exciting programme is designed to inspire, challenge and assist students to fulfil their unique ambitions and potential – no one is left behind. The Diploma allows the support and pursuit of a vast range of individual interests and goals both within and in addition to the core academic curriculum. Students are required to choose options from each of the following themes: the A Level examined curriculum, the Co-curricular activities and student leadership, and elective courses. Students’ Diploma achievements are celebrated at the end of the year with a graduation ceremony. Speaking about the St Dunstan’s Diploma, former student Rachel, who now reads classics at the University of Cambridge explained: ‘The Diploma opens up many opportunities both inside and outside the classroom and allows sixth formers to truly pursue their own interests.’ Life for young people in 2020 can also be exceptionally hard, and St Dunstan’s students are supported by the Sixth Form leadership team and their tutors. The Sixth Form office has an open door policy and staff are always available to listen to concerns, guiding with discretion and sensitivity

Year 12 and 13 are like one big family and you always know someone is around to talk to you current student, Sam

St Dunstan’s also has a Wellness Centre, which is the hub the student well-being at the College. All students benefit from a range of support including a comprehensive counselling service, offering both formal and informal sessions with on-site counsellors. Additionally, the College has an in-house Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and therefore many of the staff and senior students are qualified to deliver MHFA. Many students from the local area and other schools join St Dunstan’s for Sixth Form, and many note the welcoming atmosphere and supportive environment. ‘There’s a real sense of community in the Sixth Form, Year 12 and 13 are like one big family and you always know someone is around to talk to you or offer support if you need it,’ Year 13 student Sam said.

To find out more about St Dunstan’s College Sixth Form, book an upcoming bespoke tour or virtual Q&A by visiting www.stdunstans.org. uk or by calling 020 8516 7200. There are a range of scholarships and bursaries on offer to sixth form students and the admissions team are always happy to talk through the admissions process and application. There are also a variety of videos on the College website about life in the Sixth Form. The College is also on Twitter (@StDunstansColl) and Instagram (@ StDunstansCollege).


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LEWI S H AM L EG E N D

n St Patrick’s Day regular customers of Maggie’s cafe would look forward to a special treat with their breakfast. Each year Maggie would dress up as a leprechaun and serve free shots of whiskey to punters alongside their bacon baps or full English. It was one of the many wonderful quirks and traditions that made Maggie’s cafe a true Lewisham institution. Renowned for its goodquality honest grub and generous helpings of tea, the cafe is the embodiment of the lady whose name is above the door. One of its regulars, Lara Boyle, first stumbled upon the cafe on Christmas Eve 27 years ago. She was so taken with the atmosphere and warm welcome she received from the host that she remained a loyal customer to this day. “It was only about half the size it is now,” Lara recalls, “and we just couldn’t believe the amazing atmosphere in this quirky little Irish cafe. It was wonderful.” Lara became a very close friend to Maggie, who got to know her family well and watched them grow up. As well as her extreme generosity, Lara also remembers Maggie’s mischievous side. “Most of the staff Maggie employed were young people including some of her own grandchildren. She would often come up and whisper in my ear, ‘You wouldn’t go and put on some Foster and Allen for me’, which I would do, much to the annoyance of the young staff.” If Maggie’s staff were forced to occasionally listen to the classic Irish

Memories of

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Maggie WORDS BY SEAMUS HASSON PHOTOS BY LIMA CHARLIE AND THE FAMILY ARCHIVE

Above: Maggie with her husband Mazid and their three children

Lewisham icon Maggie Khondoker passed away earlier this year after a short illness. We look back at the life of the legendary cafe owner

country duo, her customers weren’t complaining. Serving tasty food at affordable prices, Maggie was known for her generosity and empathy. When customers were short of money, she would feed them for free and they would pay her back when they could afford to. The phrase “just add it to the tab Maggie” became a popular slogan among the cafe’s regulars. She was also extremely generous with her time and would be aware of issues such as loneliness, treating everyone who walked through the door with the same kindness and respect. “I truly believe she was exceptional because she was so forward thinking, emotionally aware and nonjudgmental”, says Lara. “Everyone was attracted to her because she was so very kind and very giving. But she was also very switched on and a very shrewd businesswoman. She’s worthy of a statue, I really do believe that.” Margaret Khondoker (nee Fitzpatrick) was born in 1945 in Pottle West, Cootehill – a rural townland in County Cavan. The youngest of seven siblings, she would often tell her own children about the hardship and poverty that had blighted her childhood. “She would tell us about how her mother could only afford to buy one orange a week between herself and her six siblings,” says Maggie’s daughter Fiona. “This would be squeezed into seven glasses of water – one for each of them, which they would sip throughout the day.” Maggie would also describe the long walks she embarked on to school each day, often in bare feet while taking it


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in turns to wear the one pair of shoes that she shared with her older brother Hugh. While at school the strict discipline and often brutal regime of a 1950s education offered little reprieve for Maggie, who Fiona says was then quiet and shy. While life may have had its challenges, Maggie’s spirit and sense of self-pride was already evident. “My mum would tell us how at school if the other children were having sandwiches at lunchtime and she didn’t have any, she would tear up brown pieces of paper and eat them so the other children wouldn’t notice.” Despite the hardship of Maggie’s early life in County Cavan she would reminisce fondly about a tightly knit community and a loving and loyal family. Her mother Rosanne, who Fiona describes as “a real Irish granny”, provided a great source of strength and stability for Maggie throughout her childhood and well into her adult life. She would continue to take her own family on annual holidays to the thatched roof cottage she grew up in and where her mother still lived until her death in 1996. In 1959, aged just 14, Maggie moved to Dublin where she stayed with her sister Theresa, finding work in various hotels. Friends from that era remember a very friendly and fashionable young woman who loved life, often going to dances until 6am before going straight to do a shift at work.

In 1966, aged 21 and with just £5 in her pocket she boarded the ferry to Holyhead to start a new life in England. She originally stayed in Torbay where she again found work in the hospitality business. A year later she was in London, working at a hotel in Leicester Square. It was here that she met Mazid Khondoker, a young Bangladeshi immigrant. After five years of courtship the couple married in 1972. They would remain completely devoted to each other and inseparable until the end. “They were very much a team,” says Fiona, “and they set such a high bar for us when it came to finding a life partner.” Shortly after tying the knot they moved from Wimbledon to Crofton Park, where they found themselves at home among a close-knit community. It was here that they would start a family, having three children – Anthony, Oliver and Fiona. It was also here that they received the support and encouragement from neighbours and friends to take the plunge and start a business. Maggie’s cafe first opened its doors in 1983, serving good old-fashioned hearty food to locals in Lewisham. Over time the cafe expanded in size, but the ethos remained the same. “It was her vision of a home from home,” Fiona explains. “She didn’t want anything too fancy, just something homely like she’d have experienced back in Ireland. Good honest food with bottomless cups of tea.”

Top: Maggie's cafe on Lewisham Road Above: Maggie was renowned for her warmth and kindness

While starting a new business always incurs risk, Maggie and Mazid’s strong work ethic and complementary skill sets proved a winning formula. “My father’s love was cooking, while Mum did all the talking front of house. She wasn’t

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really a fan of cooking. It was the same at home, where Dad did most of it.” If cooking was not Maggie’s forte, hard work certainly was. Fiona remembers in the early days her parents would get up at 6am and wouldn’t be back until 9pm that night. Even after her sons Anthony and Oliver took over the business around 2004 Maggie remained very hands on. “She always set very high standards,” Fiona says, “and my brothers would often nip in at 7am to give the floor a quick wipe in case she would notice anything.” With an aversion to modern technology, Maggie possessed a fine mind for figures, often preferring to calculate sums in her head than to use the till. It wasn’t until she was taken ill and was a patient at Lewisham Hospital in April this year that she got her first mobile phone – a Nokia 3310 – so she could keep in touch with her family. The outpouring of grief from the local community since she died is testament to Maggie’s extraordinary contribution to the borough. “Cavan was always home for Mum, she spoke about it all the time,” says Fiona. “Although, if you asked her, ‘Would you like to go back’, her answer was always no. This place gave her the great life that she had.” Maggie died of a rare form of cancer. She is survived by her husband, three children and eight grandchildren


10 MU S I C

Ingood company The Midi Music Company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Founder Wozzy Brewster reflects on the musical milestone WORDS BY NIKKI SPENCER PHOTOS BY LOUISE HAYWOOD-SCHIEFER AND ANNIE TOBIN

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After starting out from the Music Room in Deptford, and relocating a couple of times, things really shifted up a gear when Midi Music moved into its current home on Watson’s Street in 2001, taking over the building from the Lewisham Academy of Music, which closed in 1999. The former Victorian coroner’s office and mortuary has a whole array of industry-standard facilities, which range from rehearsal and recording studios to a 200-capacity performance hall. “Moving there was a big turning point for us”, says Wozzy, who received an OBE in 2002 for her contribution to youth arts. “It enabled us to grow and attract investment.” We’re chatting via Zoom, and while spending most days at a screen is not how Wozzy expected to be marking Midi Music’s 25th year, she’s making the best of it. “My house never usually sees me this much! I now log on at 9am and this is my zone but hey, I am alive. We have lost Ty and Tony Allen and so

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eptford-based music charity the Midi Music Company has helped the careers of everyone from poet and musician Kae Tempest and singer-songwriter Katy B to jazz drummer Moses Boyd and Bafta award-winning filmmaker Destiny Ekaragha. “If I hadn’t gone with my sister to her ballroom dancing lessons at the Albany in Deptford when I was five then all this may not have happened,” muses Wozzy Brewster OBE, Midi Music’s founder who grew up on the nearby Evelyn Estate. “Back then the Albany was on Creek Road and they provided all sorts of help and support for single parents like my mum. Spending time there exposed me to creativity and sparked my imagination and I fell in love with art and music.” Wozzy went on to co-found the Second Wave Young Women’s Project (now called Second Wave Centre for Youth Arts) and worked as house manager at the Albany before joining Community Music (known as CM), where she was south-east London project manager. In 1995 she launched the Midi Music Company, with local young people Oggie (who was touring with The Jacksons before lockdown), Nevin Mehmet and Keeley Allen from Deptford Green School, plus musicians Phil Greenwood and former Amazulu band member Nardo Bailey. “We felt that many young people locally were missing out because they were unable to make the transition from music education to the music business by accessing affordable classes and courses,” Wozzy says. “We began with just £420 in the bank, and to grow from a tiny charity to where we are now has surpassed our wildest dreams.”

Above: Midi Music founder Wozzy Brewster Left: Ahnansé from Steam Down Opposite: Skunk Anansie's Skin

many friends and I am just grateful to be here and for what I have.” Behind her there’s an inscription on the wall that reads, “Live every moment, laugh every day and love beyond words.” “A friend of mine who I went to school with at Tidemill gave it to me”, says Wozzy. “The world needs a whole lot of love right now.” Over the last quarter of a century Midi Music has supported almost 30,000 young people with music training and career development. Some of its former students are now Midi Music tutors and are helping the next generation of creatives. The charity offers everything from music lessons for children and young people to free Music Explosion

seminars, with tips and advice from top names in the industry. There have been Q&A sessions with everyone from Goldie to Skin, from legendary rock band Skunk Anansie, who has recently joined an impressive list of Midi Music patrons that includes funk legend Chaka Khan and Jazzie B. Midi Music also launched its pioneering CICAS® (pronounced “Seekers”) programme for 16 to 30 year olds in 1997. It offers free support and advice for those who want to develop a career within the music and creative industries. Past alumni have included Noisettes frontwoman Shingai and Destiny Ekaragha, who directed Sir Lenny Henry’s biopic Danny and the Human Zoo.


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More recent participants include deaf music producer and hip-hop artist Signkid, Moses Boyd – whose debut album Dark Matter was nominated for the 2020 Mercury Prize – and Steam Down, the Deptford artist collective, fronted by Ahnansé, who have gone from putting on nights underneath the arches at Buster Mantis to playing Glastonbury’s Park Stage. The charity has launched a 25th anniversary Spotify playlist with 25 tracks from students spanning 25 years of Midi Music, including Kae Tempest, Steam Down, Yussef Dayes, Shingai and Signkid. So how come there’s so much talent and creativity in south-east London? “It’s because we are open to culture”, replies Wozzy. “If you open your mind to different languages and cultures it spawns creativity. You paint it, you design it, you sing about it!” She reckons it has a lot to do with the area’s rich history too. “The ships came into Deptford and brought people from all over the world from the time of Henry VIII. Wherever migrants come you get inventiveness. There is something about those struggles. Plays and poetry and music arise from them.” In February Midi Music celebrated its 25th anniversary with a big party at legendary venue the 100 Club on Oxford Street. There were more than 200 guests including managers and producers, who were treated to an electric line-up of performances by patrons and alumni including Skin, DJ Ng and Oggie. “It was such a great night and it feels all the more special given what has happened since,” says Wozzy.

As with everyone, lockdown scuppered Midi Music’s plans for 2020. The team had to cancel a Breakout Club gig in March, featuring artists including south-east London five-piece band Terra Viva and singersongwriter Davinah, which was also due to take place at the 100 Club, and they immediately had to come up with other ways to keep teaching their students and supporting their artists. “It was intense,” says Wozzy. “We left the building on 25 March but by 30 March we had set out a plan for offering online courses and support via Zoom. It hasn’t been easy, and we had to upgrade our software to cope but our young people really needed an outlet.

To grow from a tiny charity to where we are now has surpassed our wildest dreams

“A big issue was finance and getting emergency funding for the charity so we could carry on and make sure everyone was OK. Lewisham Council have been very supportive, and the Arts Council released our second grant payment in May, as well as NPO [non-profit organisation] emergency funds”, she adds. “It was very hard for our artists as some were in the midst of recording and others were about to tour and suddenly everything stopped overnight.” Wozzy had firsthand experience of this. She manages two bands who have come together through Midi Music: Afro jazz four-piece United Vibrations and ska reggae eight-piece Chainska Brassika. “Chainska Brassika were all set to play at South by Southwest [SXSW] in Austin, Texas this year. We were all ready to go and had our visas and everything booked so it was incredibly disappointing.” During the pandemic Wozzy has been scheduling one-to-one sessions with artists via Zoom and Midi Music has been sharing information on any creative opportunities and financial help for artists that it hears about. “The live music scene has been decimated and it’s a big crisis for the self-employed. We are just trying to support young people in any way we can”, says Wozzy. Midi Music has developed numerous creative partnerships within the music industry and this summer Red Bull Studios offered remote mixing to 15 of its artists, while Hospital Records, the independent drum ’n’ bass record label has launched an artist development

scheme in conjunction with Midi Music and others, which offers a yearlong development programme to a black artist aged 18 or over. If things go according to plan Midi Music hopes to be back in its Watson’s Street premises in October, where it will offer socially distanced rehearsal space, but for the foreseeable future it will continue lessons and events online. It started a new autumn programme last month and on 14 November it is running a day course on how to manage your own YouTube channel. It has also extended its CICAS® programme to include creatives who are aged 31-plus. “All ages have been faced with enormous challenges during the pandemic, both socially and economically”, Wozzy explains. Wozzy has always been proud to be “a Lewisham girl” and in 2018, after working for many years as youth culture adviser to former mayor Steve Bullock, she was made an honorary freewoman of the borough. She was heavily involved in the bid for Lewisham to become London Borough of Culture in 2022, and in the previous bid in 2018, and she is delighted that the area’s creatives will be getting their time in the spotlight. “It’ll be great to show everyone what we have been doing here for decades or more”, she says. “We were so close [to winning the bid] before and I knew in my blood we would get it this time. “I’m glad it’s now been delayed till 2022 as it will give us more time to plan and really whoop it up”, she adds. “By the time that comes around we will all be ready for a massive party.”

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12 LEWI S H AM I N PI CT U R E S

WORDS BY LAURA DAY

PHOTOS BY LIMA CHARLIE

Left: the nature reserve is home to handmade beehives

WOODLAND

WONDERS

hen you come through the door, you fall in love with it, says Anna-Maria Cahalane-MacGuinness, co-founder of Buckthorne Cutting Nature Reserve in Crofton Park. She’s right. Under a high canopy of leaves, the path winds between delicate shoots of horsetail, and past steep slopes that lead to handmade benches, beehives and a reed bed. While the birds are singing, AnnaMaria describes the reserve’s diverse wildlife: slow worms, great spotted woodpeckers, bats, stag beetles, hedgehogs and a heron. It’s rich in local history too. The railway that runs alongside it was the former Croydon Canal, and the bridge beside the entrance is an old Roman way. “Once you know that, it changes how you see the space,” she says. The reserve has had a unique chance to flourish during lockdown, and volunteers have seen through

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projects that should have taken more than a year in a matter of months. As a result, the reserve is peppered with interesting pockets that turn it into a versatile space for organised events, including forest schools for children, ecology trails, a place for artist rehearsals and a safe space for groups of vulnerable women and refugees to meet. There are tables made from reclaimed cable drums hand-painted by Anna-Maria; planters and benches where people sit for lunch and a chat; a foraging fence; an outdoor classroom called the Raven’s Nest; and a packing box to nurse injured wildlife. Local artists Orbit and Lionel Stanhope and international artist Martin Travers have created nature-inspired murals. The cutting is one of four that run between Forest Hill and New Cross to form a green corridor. It provides safe passage for wildlife without any interruption from people, which is


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Above: this colourful new mural was created by Martin Travers, with Lionel Stanhope assisting Right: the reserve's co-founder AnnaMaria CahalaneMacGuinness

why the cutting isn’t open to casual walkers. “For railway corridors it is a constant battle. The reality is we’ve got a lot of threats,” says Anna-Maria. “The more you get the community involved, the more chance you’ve got of protecting it. But it stops it being a nature reserve if we have footfall.” Anna-Maria and her husband Nick co-founded the reserve in 2018, and it is now a registered charity. The land spans 4.25 hectares and is co-owned by a property developer and Network Rail. As locals, Anna-Maria and Nick knew of its potential importance, so they undertook an ecological survey to persuade Network Rail to give them access to help it thrive. “We found it had a Metropolitan SINC [Site of Importance for Nature Conservation] designation,” says Anna-Maria – and it is one of only three designations in the area along with Blackheath and Beckenham Place Park.

The site is very, very vulnerable. I knew we needed to protect it

“I knew we needed to protect it against property developers. We’re not looked after by the council. We are very, very vulnerable.” They got the keys from Network Rail in 2018 and were granted a five-year community gardens licence. Now they’re waiting for approval of a 25-year licence to help make the cutting a statutory local nature reserve and metropolitan open land, which would give the whole corridor greater protection against development. Pending funding, the next round of projects includes a pond, signage and more surveys to monitor the reserve’s species. Not only has the space helped wildlife to flourish, it has engaged the local community as volunteers and curious passersby who’ve seen it evolve over the past few months. “The importance of green space has become particularly apparent during the pandemic,” says Anna-Maria. “It’s become a community hub.”


14 FOOD & D RI N K

n the centre of Catford, on the ground floor of Brutalist 1960s tower block Eros House, there’s a slice of SE6 that is a true Italian idyll. With its cheerful red, green, blue and white exterior, La Pizzeria Italiana seems to emanate a warm and inviting glow from within. Once inside, you feel a world away from the busy south London traffic. The restaurant first opened in 1986 and its current owner Franco Bertocchi took it over seven years ago. He was a regular customer there for more than a decade prior to that. “I lived around the corner and this was the only Italian around here. The owner was a friend of mine and I would come in nearly every week,” he says. It was an early evening in March when I called in for a chat with Franco and the full extent of the devastation that the pandemic would have on the hospitality sector was still unknown. I found him talkative, open, candid and a pleasure to spend time with. “In Italy we are very, very regional,” he says. “For example, I’m from Bologna. If you look to Maranello, where they build the Ferrari, it’s 37 kilometres away but the food is completely different.” I feel like I could be sitting in an osteria somewhere in the Tuscan hills listening to Franco regale stories about his life and running the restaurant. “As you know in Italy, the mum is the number one when it comes to recipes. Everybody has got a mum who’s got the best secret,” he laughs. “The products we use here are all 100% Italian. The pizza we always do in an Italian way. We make our dough downstairs, we use flour from Naples, the tomatoes are from my city and [so is] the mozzarella.” Franco has had a lifelong love affair with food and before moving to London he owned four restaurants in his native Bologna. “We started it 40 years ago and then we bought another and then another, but we were young and we had a whole different mentality,” he says. “Here’s a funny story for you. Here [in the restaurant] one night I met with an Italian customer and she said to me, ‘Ah, you’re from Bologna. My brother lives in Bologna. He owns a wine bar and osteria there’. “It turned out her brother was the person who bought my first osteria and she was in Catford. What madness, it was amazing! They say the world is big, but it can be very small sometimes. The place we had is still very popular in Bologna. Actually, last year he [the current owner] threw a big party to celebrate its 40th year.” Franco sold his businesses in Italy in 1991 and moved to Catford after meeting his partner. He went on to set up another business in London which combined his two great passions – cooking and mountain-climbing. “I started my own company to take people climbing in Spain and Italy. When we were in Italy we rented a farmhouse and then in the evening my friend and I cooked for the customers. “During the day we’d go to the mountain and my friend would stay behind and prepare the food. Then at the end of the holiday we would give the customers a book with all the recipes that we had made during the week.”

THAT‚S AM RE WORDS BY SEAMUS HASSON

PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE

Much-loved local restaurant La Pizzeria Italiana offers diners a taste of Italy in the middle of Catford. Here, its charismatic owner Franco Bertocchi tells us how he came to run the SE6 stalwart

Franco ran the tours successfully for a number of years, taking climbing excursions to places like Sicily and Tuscany. “The only problem was, my last tour was in 2013, when I was 64 and a customer was 24. So I decided age is not just a number,” he laughs. Instead of retiring however Franco had other ideas and when the opportunity came up to take over La Pizzeria Italiana, he grabbed it. “I had to think long and hard because I know the amount of hard work and dedication you need for this business. “Places like this are very different to a place in Covent Garden. This place has a base, you work with the local people, families, so you can’t rely on different managers. I need to be here.” Despite his 71 years, Franco’s energy and enthusiasm is impressive. He’s at the restaurant every morning at 9am sharp, catching up on paperwork before heading to the market to get fresh supplies. After the lunchtime customers leave, the restaurant shuts before reopening at 5pm for dinner and Franco stays until the last customers leave.

Above: Franco Bertocchi stands in his restaurant La Pizzeria Italiana

Our customers have continued to support us and it has made me so pleased

“Here you have to dedicate all your life,” he says. “I’m here all day long. When I go this evening, I’ll go to bed and then tomorrow morning I need to be here again. “But it’s a wonderful job. It’s stressful yes, but it’s a wonderful job. Some people go into an office, switch on a computer, turn off the computer and go home. Here there is so much I can do, I can experiment in the kitchen with new cuisine, there is so much opportunity to be creative.” As well as a passion for his job, Franco has also struck up a love affair with Catford over the past 30 years. “It is fantastic here, there are so many nationalities. I think that the mixture of people in Catford would be difficult to find anywhere else. You don’t really feel like you’re in the UK sometimes – it’s an interesting area.” While his native Italy is renowned across the globe for its food, he’s impressed by what’s on offer here. “One of the best things about the British is a willingness to try new dishes. In Italy we are a little more conservative as far as food goes, it’s

all pizza, pasta. It’s starting to change in more recent times but here you can have food from all over the world.” It wasn’t long after I spoke to Franco that the UK went into lockdown. I got back in touch with him last month to find out how he has fared during this incredibly difficult period and I was pleased to discover that he’s lost none of his zest. “We have continued doing takeaways,” he tells me over the phone. “The response from our customers has been absolutely brilliant. They continued to support us, and it made me so pleased.” The restaurant reopened for sit-in customers again in June and Franco is pleased with how it’s going. “I think people prefer to stay local at the moment, to stay near home. They don’t feel the need to go into London.” The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has also had a lasting effect. “The restaurant was really busy, and I was completely booked out. Mondays and Tuesdays used to be quiet but this week it was packed. I don’t know why. It’s the mystery of Catford.”

HEADLINE ILLUSTRATION BY DENIS SHUMAYLOV / THENOUNPROJECT.COM

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ondon Metropolitan University’s Big Idea Challenge is a competition for students, staff and graduates across all of its schools. It is divided into three categories: social impact, creative and commercial. This year’s social impact winner is Brockley resident and third year community development and leadership student Nisha Taylor, for her community interest company Inclusion to Thrive. The business supports students from underrepresented communities and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds by giving financial advice and low-interest microloans to help them through university. “If you’ve got money that’s meant to be coming in and it hasn’t,” says Nisha, “[we can give you] small pockets of money just to take the stress out of worrying about stuff for university.” Nisha had long wanted to create a company to help people. In fact she registered Inclusion to Thrive as a business quite a while before she decided what to do with it. It was speaking to her fellow students that crystallised the idea. “Some of them were like, ‘Nah, I’m just going to give up [my studies]’,” she explains. “And I was encouraging them, saying ‘No, don’t give up; you’ve got one more year to go or you’ve got two more years to go. What is it that you need? Because maybe you don’t know the support that’s out there.’” Nisha began looking into some of the issues and reasons for people not completing or even beginning their studies. “About 8.8% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds drop out of university, and one of the main reasons is financial difficulty,” she says, referring to a Higher Education Statistics Agency report that showed 8.8% of disadvantaged students didn’t return for their second year of university in 2017. “When we’re looking at things like poverty and social mobility, it’s like there’s a group of people who can’t just break out of their circumstances. Because they’re always having to resort to dealing with the here and now – like firefighting. Something comes up, they’re firefighting. They can’t actually concentrate on their aspirations and goals. “These groups are vulnerable. So I thought, ‘What else can I do to support them?’ That’s when I thought, ‘Financial literacy is massive at the moment. Assets and liabilities.’” Nisha, who is now 42, started her career as a hairdresser and owned a salon. “I’ve kind of been on a whole long life journey,” she says, “and it’s kept changing. So, originally I started off as a hairdresser back in the day. Then I got a really terrible illness.” Nisha was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, an autoimmune condition that affects the skin and causes muscle weakness. “It carries traits a little bit like lupus and sarcoidosis, apparently,” she says. “It’s mainly in Afro-Caribbean people. What happened with mine is my cells started attacking my lung. What should have been protecting me started to turn on my body. “So one of my lungs is slightly scarred. Because of that, I had really bad breathing problems – like I

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I knew I had the ability to succeed, so I went in there and I gave it my all

A THRIVING BUSINESS WORDS BY ROSARIO BLUE

PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE

Brockley resident Nisha Taylor is passionate about helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete their university studies – and transform their lives in the process couldn’t breathe at all – and that took me on a whole transformational journey.” Since hairdressing involves lots of chemicals and fumes that would exacerbate Nisha’s condition, she had to give up her salon and start over.

Above: entrepreneur Nisha Taylor

“Growing up, I always wanted to be three things: a lawyer, a hairdresser and an actor,” she says. “So, once the hairdressing had passed, my next interest was law.” It just so happened that one of Nisha’s clients at the salon had a solicitor who owned a law firm on Baker Street. The client put in a good word with him, hoping to help Nisha get a foot in the door. This led to Nisha being offered a part time admin role at the firm. “I started off as an admin, on the ground doing odd bits like sending faxes, writing letters. I didn’t have qualifications in law, but I knew I had the ability to succeed, so I went in there and I gave it my all.” Within three months of working at the firm, a full-time admin staff member left and Nisha was offered their role. She learned on the job and moved up in the company, which gave her the push to keep reaching for the impossible-seeming. During this time, her health improved. Although the condition has not disappeared, and she still has only one fully functioning lung, Nisha is no longer on medication to manage it. Partly inspired by her mentor who came into her life when she became ill, she next began a coaching business. She started speaking at events, encouraging people to look at life

through a different lens and showing them how to change their mindset. Nisha had always wanted to study, however. Once she came across London Met’s community development and leadership studies course in 2018, she knew it was the route for her. “I thought, ‘This is what I’m all about – helping people, looking at society as a whole and policies and procedures, poverty and hardship and BAME groups that are suffering. They need to kind of build themselves up.’” Among the rewards for winning the Big Idea Challenge is support, advice and mentoring from industry professionals, as well as a monetary prize. It’s clear that the win means an enormous amount to her. “I think when you come from a particular background, no matter how much you achieve in life, every single achievement means the world to you,” she says. Another of Nisha’s prizes was a stint on London Met’s Launchpad, an intensive 12-week programme that gives budding entrepreneurs the support, knowledge and tools to grow their business idea into a viable startup. It has allowed Nisha to identify areas in which her company is lacking and has given her the opportunity to accumulate the research and stats necessary to build the company up to a point where it can draw in funding and grow to support a large number of clients. “I’m literally going through testing my assumptions, researching the need and getting figures and facts together to support the business. So if I need to pitch it to anybody I’ve got actual stats and figures that show that this problem is real and it does exist.” Nisha, who right now is the only person managing the responsibilities of Inclusion to Thrive, is hoping to put a team together to work with her. In the meantime she still has to complete the final year of her course. “I’m going to have dissertations and all sorts of things, so in my mind the thing is to set everything up so that when I finish it’s ready to be launched. I’m going to have to work really hard during this time. “It’s about legacy,” she continues. “This can go global, it can absolutely go global. There’s a lot of students in other countries who don’t even have half the access that we have. “If I can build that monetary loan system up so I can support young people in Africa, Jamaica and India who are struggling, if I can help people to break away from what’s normally expected of them and live above that, then I feel like that’s legacy stuff, and that will be my work on Earth done.”


34 PRO I OI ON N A LAL F EATU REU R E 18 PR OMOT M OT F E AT

CATFORD COOKBOOK THE CATFORD COOKBOOK CELEBRATES THE PEOPLE AND CULTURES THAT MAKE SE6 ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE AND UNIQUE AREAS OF LONDON.

It is a new recipe collection rooted in, and created for, our down-to-earth and warm community. It aims to celebrate Catford’s rich heritage, evolving present, and vibrant future. The Catford Cookbook celebrates the people and cultures that make SE6 one of the most diverse and unique areas of London. It is a new recipe collection rooted in, and created for, our down-to-earth and warm community. It aims to celebrate Catford’s rich heritage, evolving present, and vibrant future. Through each recipe the Catford Cookbook roams from high street to side street via the market, picking out dishes with complex flavours and brilliant backstories - and introducing businesses even longtime Catfordians may not have known. Each recipe was chosen after speaking with local people about the meals they create now and the dishes they ate growing up, especially those dishes they deeply miss and would love to eat again. Food is a language without barriers. It connects past and present, allows us to dive into another culture with nothing but excitement, and leave heartened and a little wiser. The hope is that through this book, we can all learn more about the people with whom we share this special corner of South East London. We hope that through this book every cook will see Catford with fresh eyes and appetite - and maybe head

out to one of the small independent shops behind each Catford Cookbook recipe to try the original for themselves.

COCONUT PRAWNS Serves 4

Catford is generally well served by shops selling fish, but this recipe uses shell-on prawns, which are available at a good price, frozen in boxes, at FLK Chinese Groceries at Station Buildings near Catford Bridge train station, or bagged in H&S Fish Market on Catford Broadway. Coated in a coconut and breadcrumb mix and fried to crisp and crunchy perfection, these are a great finger food for parties or for a Friday night dinner that feels a little bit special. Do look for the panko breadcrumbs for this dish. These Japanese breadcrumbs are made from crustless bread so give a very light, airy, crispy coating to the prawns. They are available from FLK Chinese Groceries and in major supermarkets in the world food aisle. The coconut goes especially well with a dipping sauce like Pat & Pinky’s mango sour chutney available at www. houseofcatford.com.

INGREDIENTS

• 350g raw shell-on prawns • 75g plain flour

• • • • • • •

1 teaspoon mustard powder salt and white pepper chilli powder (optional) 3 eggs, beaten 150g desiccated coconut 150g panko breadcrumbs 150ml vegetable oil

METHOD

Defrost your prawns and peel the shells off leaving the very tip of the tail on. Lay them out on a baking tray or plate ready to cook. Set out four small bowls. Fill the first bowl with the flour seasoned with the mustard powder, salt and pepper. You could add a little chilli powder if you like a kick. The next bowl should contain the beaten eggs and the last two should each have a 50-50 mix of the coconut and panko breadcrumbs. You need the extra bowl of coconut and breadcrumbs because the egg can make the breadcrumbs sticky, and this gives a back-up to save time while frying. Dip a prawn into the flour, then into the egg and then into the coconut mixture. The flour helps the egg stick and the egg helps the coconut stick. Make sure the prawn is well coated in coconut and breadcrumbs. Set back on the baking tray or plate. Repeat until all the prawns are coated. Heat about three tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Place a small heatproof bowl near the cooker and carefully set about five

The Catford Cookbook is a community compendium of local recipes. It’s illustrated by a local and all profits go to local charities. Recommendation in ‘Time Out’, Sept 2020

prawns at a time in the frying pan. Fry for about two minutes each side until golden and crispy. Lift out onto a plate with some kitchen paper and keep warm. Before you fry the next batch, drain the frying oil into the heatproof bowl along with any flakes of coconut that dropped off during frying so they don’t burn on to your next batch of prawns. Heat another three tablespoons of the oil and repeat frying each batch of prawns and draining the oil until all the prawns are cooked. Serve hot with the mango chutney and some hot sauce. If you want to make these ahead for a party, fry and cool uncovered in the fridge and then reheat in the oven at 180°C for six minutes.

PEANUT BUTTER BLONDIES MAKES 16

ABOVE: Coconut Prawns RIGHT: Peanut Butter Blondies

Made with only five ingredients, these vegan blondies take just 25 minutes to make and can be customised with any extras you like. Try pretzels, dark chocolate, nuts, jam or dried fruit in them, and make them multiple times to decide which version is your favourite.


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INGREDIENTS

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60ml extra virgin coconut oil 200g brown sugar 250g smooth peanut butter 150g plain flour 60ml almond milk 50g extras as above (optional)

METHOD

Oil and line a 20 x 20-centimetre baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and heat the oven to 180°C. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan on the stove or in the microwave. Pour the liquid oil into a bowl with the sugar and peanut butter and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and stir until it forms a thick ball, then stir in the almond milk until it is a soft, fudgy texture. If adding chocolate, it’s best cut into rough chunks. Add it or any other extras at this stage, stirring through lightly, and tip the dough into the baking tray. Press out into the corners of the tray with a spoon until the top is smooth and about an inch-and-a-half thick all over. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the blondies look cooked and the very edges are crisp but the centre is still soft if you press the top of it. Allow the blondies to cool completely in the tin on a rack and then lift out using the greaseproof paper. Cut into 16 squares. The centres will be soft and gooey and they’ll be delicate to handle. They’ll keep for three to four days in an airtight container.

A&S Grocers 5 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SP Bottle Bar and Shop 2 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SP Brazilian Groceries & Butcher 105 Rushey Green London SE6 4AF House of Catford www.houseofcatford. com David Oakman & Sons Family Butchers 28 Muirkirk Road London SE6 1BE Evans Supermarket 36 Winslade Way Catford Shopping Centre London SE6 4JU FLK Chinese Groceries 3 Station Buildings Catford Road London SE6 4QZ Good Food 7 Sandhurst Market (Sangley Road) London SE6 1DL H&S Fish Market Catford Broadway

London SE6 4SN La Mo Dnu Magazin Românesc 27 Winslade Way Catford Shopping Centre London SE6 4JU Metro Food Centre 10 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SP MY Afro-Caribbean Food Centre 25 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SN PFC 5–6 Station Buildings Catford Road London SE6 4QZ Rashid's Food Centre 26 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SN Refrigerated Fish Shop (Outside Tescos) Winslade Way Catford Shopping Centre London SE6 4JU Tony's Butchers 19 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SN Tony's Grocers 22 Catford Broadway London SE6 4SN

Available to buy from: houseoflewisham.com/ the-catford-cookbook/

This book will take you on a new journey through SE6.

Each recipe is a celebration of the unique part of London that Catfordians call home. As a collection, it hopes to be an inspiration for home cooking, and a guide inspiring a visit or two to some of the small independent businesses where these delicacies are perfected every day.

CATFORD COOK BOOK

Catford is known for its down-to-earth and warm community, but is not yet as recognised for its globe-spanning cuisine. Through 100 recipes the Catford Cookbook roams from high street to side street via the market, exploring the area through its diverse dishes and revealing insights into the histories and present day lives of the community.

CATFORD COOK BOOK Shop, Cook & Eat SE6


20 FAM I LY A L B U M

When social distancing is over, I'm going to host a street party for everyone

At your convenience WORDS BY RONNIE HAYDON

PHOTO BY GEMMA DAY

The Patel family have run Torridon Convenience, a local store and post office in Catford, since 1984. They share the story of their shop

s proprietors of Torridon Convenience since 1984, the Patel family will be familiar to many residents of Catford’s Corbett Estate. “It was called LG Stretton newsagent back then,” recalls Indy Patel, who moved to Catford to take it on with brothers Des and Ashvin, who sadly died in 1992. “A chap called Malcolm sold it to us, and we stayed friends with him for the rest of his life. At that time business was newspapers, magazines, sweets and bus passes. We were the only bus pass provider in the area, the shop’s name was on all the bus stops.” He remembers the clunky computer system when they first arrived, which was state-of-the-art at the time. “That computer was like a tank!” he laughs. “The shop was well equipped though, and it did good business.” The brothers and their families lived above the shop in the early years. It was a busy household and hard work, says Des. “The neighbourhood kids caused trouble. These days the

A

parenting is better, people care about their area.” Eventually the brothers absorbed the neighbouring shop and off-licence into the business. With Indy’s wife Aruna and Des’s late wife Chandra helping out, the convenience store built up a loyal local following. Indy’s son Kaual and Des’s son Trushar run the shop with their dads now. They’re relieved that the crack-

Top: Des, Indy, Kaual and Trushar Patel Above left: the shop as it was Above right: Des and Indy with the shop's previous owner Malcolm

of-dawn newsagent’s life is now a thing of the past. Except that it isn’t, as far as their dads are concerned, as Kaual explains with an exasperated chuckle. “My uncle is in the shop every day at 5am, even though the paper-round duties have fizzled out, but when you’ve been getting up that early all your working life you can’t just switch it off.

“It’s not logical, I tell Dad and Uncle, but it won’t change. Years ago Sunday mornings were busy – everyone was up early for eggs and bacon and the Sunday supplements. Our generation is lazy, they don’t emerge until 11am! Nonetheless, because my dad knows some regulars will be here at 6am he opens up for them.” Kaual is entertained by the reactions of the older family members to his innovations. He is, by his own admission, the ambitious member of the quartet, and his ideas sometimes ruffle feathers. “They were sceptical when I wanted to sell craft beers from Gipsy Hill and Brockley breweries. They said I was mad to expect people to spend £3 on a can of beer, but I proved them wrong.” The alcohol side of the shop is well stocked, with cabinets of high-end whiskey taking centre stage. “I have a huge interest in rare spirits,” says Kaual. “People call me ‘alcopedia’ because I have learned such a lot. I get told off by the seniors for my crazy experimentation. I like to attend trade fairs, to try whiskeys from all over the world.” He adds, with a glint in his eye, that his next plan is to open a beer cave. “I want to make a chilled room, with no need for refrigeration. I would implement a growler [pressurised container] system for taking home fresh beer. This system is huge in the States!” Trushar, like Kaual, went to school on Torridon Road, and grew up above the shop. There are challenges that go with that, like when bullies would boast about shoplifting “from your dad” or leaning on the boys for free stuff. The cousins both bought their family homes on Torridon Road, so they’re deeply invested in the area. “The shop is really close to the surgery, the pharmacy and two schools so passing trade is great,” says Trushar. The Patels are well known among the local community groups, and can be relied upon in a crisis. During lockdown, the store’s key role as a community hub moved up a gear. “What saw us through was the way this community pulled together,” says Kaual. “We had WhatsApp groups and made up food parcels. One company, seeing the work we were doing, donated flour. Everyone was helping and it felt like a really unified neighbourhood group. We were able to deliver to people who couldn’t get out. “Good has come out of the bad. I now know people in the locality so much better. It’s a remarkable story about people from all walks of life, who live in these same few roads, all communicating to help each other out. Social distancing is still with us, but when it’s over, I am going to host a street party to bring everyone together for a real social event.”


‘I have worked with Raul on many events, and to say it is a joy would be an understatement. Raul’s passion for food and wine is infectious; he manages to captivate an audience with simple words that transport you to another world of pleasure. This book is full of delicious recipes and wine recommendations guaranteed to ensure an unforgettable meal.’ - Michel Roux Jr.

WINES & RECIPES THE SIMPLE GUIDE TO WINE AND FOOD PAIRING

Raul Diaz Foreword by Michel Roux Jr. & Steven Spurrier Photography by local photographer Steven Joyce

Available now from tiny.cc/winesandrecipes

£30 Hardback


22 LEWI S H AM L E I SU R E

SOMETHING TO DRINK Long Island iced tea

Mix this classic cocktail at home – or buy the readymade version from Bottle Bar and Shop Bottle Bar and Shop is the brainchild of Xhulio Sina, passionate mixologist and his wife, Natalie John, a keen sampler of Xhulio’s cocktails. Our vision was to open a bar and shop that could offer handmade, tasty, beautiful cocktails in a bottle. So in December 2017, we took the plunge and launched Bottle Bar and Shop in Catford. It’s been a tough year for small businesses and after months of closure and adaptation, we’re delighted to be open as a bar and shop again, still offering our local home delivery service. We absolutely love the fantastic local community and we’re thankful for your continuous support. A lot of our customers have said our home delivery service and cocktails helped them through lockdown, which is lovely. Our bottled cocktails and infusions are all handmade by us from start to finish: we infuse, mix, create, prepare and bottle up every single one ourselves, at our shop.

Ingredients Vodka 10ml Gin 10ml White rum 10ml Silver tequila 10ml Orange liqueur 10ml Lemon juice 5ml Cola 150ml

All our cocktails are made in small batches, which ensures a high quality control. There are no additives or flavours in our drinks, just delicious classic cocktails made with natural ingredients. We use high-quality brands such as Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka to give you the best drinks experience. Over the past (nearly) three years, we’ve worked hard to prove that our bottled cocktails can be just as tasty as cocktails from some of the best bars. We want people to move away from the idea that ready-todrink cocktails are full of sugar and additives. Fancy adding a bit of cocktail pizzazz to your evening at home without searching for your long-lost cocktail shaker? Here’s how to do it... Long Island iced tea is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known cocktails. Made with five different types of liquor, it can be a bit tricky to get right when you’re trying to mix one at home – so we’ve done the hard work for you.

CROSSWORD NO. 13

Method 1 Fill a glass with lots of ice. 2 Pour in all the above ingredients. 3 Garnish with a slice of lemon. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

BY ALDHELM

Lewisham is home to the largest 6 Across in Europe.

ACROSS

DOWN

44

1

6 ELASTICPOTION (anagram) (6, 7) 9 Make woollens (4) 10 Not bespoke (3-3-3) 11 Oat dish (8) 13 Gulley, ditch (6) 15 Ancient Norse raiders (7) 17 Reach, attain (7) 19 Horrified (6) 20 Ethereal (8) 22 Cleverest (9) 23 Nutritious bean (4) 24 Recovery from illness (13)

1 Backing financially (10) 2 Apartment (4) 3 Agreement (6) 4 Woeful (8) 5 Hitch, problem (4) 7 Undergo pain (6) 8 Inexact (9) 12 Destruction (9) 14 Soldiers on horseback (10) 16 Succeed, prosper (3, 5) 18 Dairy product (6) 21 Assail, assault (6) 22 Male deer (4) 23 Drop (4)

44

6

WORDS BY NATALIE JOHN

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SOLUTION

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14 44

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A lewisham LOCAL alexander mcqueen Influential British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was chief designer at Givenchy and founded his own label in 1992. McQueen was born in 1969 in Lewisham, to Scottish cabbie Ronald and teacher Joyce. He was the youngest of six children. He left school aged 16 with one O-level in art, and later completed an apprenticeship on Savile Row and a master’s at Central Saint Martins. His big break came when renowned fashion stylist Isabella Blow bought his entire graduation collection.

ILLUSTRATION BY JESSICA KENDREW

Often referred to as the “bad boy of British fashion”, he combined impeccable tailoring with bold designs and cutting-edge catwalk shows. Tragically he committed suicide in 2010, aged just 40.

ACROSS: 6 Police station, 9 Knit, 10 Off-the-peg, 11 Porridge, 13 Trench, 15 Vikings, 17 Achieve, 19 Aghast, 20 Heavenly, 22 Brightest, 23 Soya, 24 Convalescence. DOWN: 1 Sponsoring, 2 Flat, 3 Accord, 4 Pathetic, 5 Snag, 7 Suffer, 8 Imprecise, 12 Ruination, 14 Cavalrymen, 16 Get ahead, 18 Cheese, 21 Attack, 22 Buck, 23 Sink.


F I N D O U T W H AT YO U R HOME IN LEWISHAM IS WORTH Use My FREE Instant Online Valuation Tool If you’re thinking of moving, start by getting a Hometrack Valuation Report to see how much your home is worth.

Are you interested in supporting the Southwark and Lewisham Law Centres to improve access to justice for local people? Our legal team has successfully fought for housing, immigration, workplace and welfare rights in Southwark for over 40 years. We have now set up a second office in Lewisham. We are looking for people with local knowledge of our Boroughs to join the Trustee Board. We especially welcome applications from members of the BAMER community to ensure our governance reflects the community we serve.

For a Trustee application pack please visit

www.southwarklawcentre.org.uk

Hometrack is the UK’s largest automated valuer of residential properties and is relied upon by 13 of the 15 top UK high street lenders. This report normally costs £19.95 and includes ALL recent house sales near you!

Simon Kyriacou Branch Director

Get your FREE online valuation report now at: www.EweMove.com/Lewisham or call: (24/7) 0203 319 0618 EweMove respects any existing sole agency agreement already in place with another agent.


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Issue 13 of The Lewisham Ledger  

If you not picked up a copy of the most recent edition yet, you can now read the latest issue of The Lewisham Ledger online! For all advert...

Issue 13 of The Lewisham Ledger  

If you not picked up a copy of the most recent edition yet, you can now read the latest issue of The Lewisham Ledger online! For all advert...

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