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The hill is alive

A FREE NEWSPAPER FOR LEWISHAM

The Lewisham Ledger I S S U E 3 | O C TO B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8

Community and culture in Telegraph Hill PA G E S 30 , 31

Friend of the NME A local photographer’s life in music PAG E S 1 6, 17

Cool for cats Behind the scenes at Celia Hammond PAGES 36, 37

Aiming high

The cricketer helping Lewisham kids PA G E S 14 , 1 5


THE LE WI S H AM L E D G E R

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Welcome to The Lewisham Ledger, a free newspaper for the borough. ur first two editions were published during the summer after more than 100 generous residents, businesses and institutions backed our crowdfunding campaign. The paper is now hand-delivered to almost 150 stockists across the borough, with a full list available to view here: tinyurl.com/llstockists. The cash we raised through crowdfunding was enough to fund our first two issues, but from this edition onwards we will rely solely on advertising to cover our costs and stay in print. A huge thanks to the many local companies, organisations and people who have supported us so far, including those whose adverts appear in this edition. Your support has meant you're about to read our biggest issue to date. If you're a reader responding to an advert in the paper, we would be grateful if you could let the relevant business know where you heard about them, as it encourages people to continue advertising with us. And if you're a business who would like to learn more about how we can promote what you do across Lewisham and beyond – both in print and online – please email lewishamledger@gmail.com. We've now started work on our next issue, which will be the Christmas and new year edition. If you'd like to keep in touch in the meantime, please follow us on social media, read our blog or send us a message via the aforementioned email address. We hope you enjoy the issue!

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Mark McGinlay and Kate White

The Lewisham Ledger

The River Quaggy meandering through Chinbrook Meadows in Grove Park

New urban park could be created in SE12 The Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum has proposed the creation of a Railway Children-inspired “urban national park” in a part of the borough described by the London Wildlife Trust as “one of the richest wildlife areas in Lewisham”, writes Alice Troy-Donovan. As part of the emerging Grove Park Neighbourhood Plan, the forum – a legal entity set up to represent local residents’ views in development planning – has proposed creating an accessible public park with a bridle path, footpath and cycle path linking different green areas bordering Lewisham and Bromley boroughs.   The neighbourhood plan, including the concept for a “Railway Children urban national park”, has been submitted for consultation to Lewisham Council and local stakeholders, and the final version will be voted on by local residents before it is approved.  “There are beautiful natural spaces on our doorstep in Grove Park but we just can’t access them,” said Stephen Kenny, chair of the Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum and local resident.

Editors Mark McGinlay, Kate White 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

“The area encompasses a striking variety of different landscapes in a very short stretch of land.” The proposed trail of the urban national park moves across public, semipublic and private land and consists of allotments, willow woodland, a wet meadow, chalk grassland,  cemeteries, nature reserves, Chinbrook Meadows, Northbrook Park and Elmstead Woods.  The site, which is 4.5km long and around 7.2 hectares in total, would take an hour to walk across when linked by a footpath or trail. In addition to opening up existing green spaces to the public, the forum is proposing to build new features, including a nature trail, lookout hides and climbing and fitness areas.  “As we develop more in Lewisham and the environment becomes more densely populated, people increasingly need quiet sanctuaries,” said Stephen.   The proposal is also concerned with preserving local wildlife. Grove Park Nature Reserve – which came into existence in 1984 – would sit at the centre of the trail, while other sites, such as the wilderness adjacent to Hither Green sidings, would be made accessible to the public again.  A report produced in 2013 for Lewisham Council by Greenspace Information for Greater London noted the presence of three protected species in the wilderness: the small blue butterfly, vesper bat and house sparrow. It also found the common newt, frog and toad in a small pond on the site.  Gaining public right of way on council and privately owned land is one challenge identified in the proposal, which

Contributors Rosario Blue, Helen Graves, Seamus Hasson, Eva Hibbs, Joe Magowan, Alexander McBride Wilson, Anviksha Patel, Peter Rhodes, Julie Robinson, Nikki Spencer, Paul Stafford, Alice Troy-Donovan, Luke G Williams, John Yabrifa Marketing and social media Mark McGinlay

also cites missing accesses, broken footpath connections and carriageway conflicts as obstacles. Terminology is also a challenge, as “urban” national parks are not formally recognised yet. “Part of what we’re saying is that the legal definition of ‘national park’ needs to be reimagined in an urban setting,” said Stephen. “As the world urbanises, relic segments of countryside that remain in cities should also be acknowledged.”  Although the proposal is led by the Grove Park Neighbourhood Forum, the urban national park concept was the subject of a UCL development planning unit  “summerLab” last month. It brought more than 20 practitioners and students from around the world to Grove Park to work on developing the project.   Workshops included developing the park’s branding, drawing on Grove Park’s historical connection to The Railway Children as part of the neighbourhood plan’s interest in maintaining the area’s “cultural and natural heritage”. The book’s author, Edith Nesbit, was a resident of Grove Park from 1894-99 and her connection to the area is acknowledged in Railway Children Walk and a local literary trail. The next step is for the forum to meet Lewisham mayor Damien Egan to discuss the plan in October. Grove Park’s is one of five designated neighbourhood forums in the borough of Lewisham.  If you live, work or volunteer in Grove Park and would like to be an active member of the forum, email info@  groveparkneighbourhoodforum.com

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End of an era for Goddard's pie and mash Local institution AJ Goddard’s pie and mash shop is set to leave Deptford this month, after the premises they rent on the high street was faced with a repair bill they cannot afford. The council-owned property requires “significant investment” and the refurbishment costs are forcing the muchloved shop to leave the area after almost 130 years. The Goddard family opened their first pie and mash shop on Evelyn Street in 1890 and moved to 203 Deptford High Street in 1964, where they have been based ever since. The shop will serve its last orders on October 7. Local residents, shop regulars and staff have spoken of their sadness that Goddard’s long association with the area is coming to an end. Simon Clarke, a baker at Goddard’s for the past 22 years, told The Lewisham Ledger that the closure is “heartbreaking”. He said: “Everyone is up in arms about it. I’ve got customers who have been coming in here for the past 49 years and they can’t believe what’s happening. “We have a group of Millwall fans who come down here every Saturday for a bit of pie and mash before going down to watch the match. They’re up in arms about it as well. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do.” While Deptford has seen a number of new restaurants open in recent times, traditional pie and mash shops in Lon-

Above: Goddard's pie and mash shop Right: manager Simon Clarke PHOTOS BY PAUL STAFFORD

don have more than halved, falling from 57 to 27 in the last two decades. The decline has led to calls from campaigners to grant them heritage status. “Apparently it’s up and coming around here,” said Simon. “To be quite honest, maybe we should have bought

these premises years ago and then we wouldn’t have this problem. “It is a shame, especially when you consider it has been on this manor for nearly 130 years and has been run by the same family throughout that time.” He said the closure of the shop will mark

the end of an era in Deptford. “Walking in here is like walking back in time,” he said. “You don’t see many places like this anymore.” The shop, which sells pie, mash and liquor for £3.50, has welcomed generations of families over the years, some of whom travel in from Essex and Kent to eat there. Simon is now planning to follow his customers and open a new pie and mash shop in the Sidcup area. Asked why it will not be renewing Goddard’s lease, a Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “The property is in poor condition and requires significant investment in order to bring it back into a good state of repair. “The tenants have told us that they are unwilling to undertake these repairs and so we’ve agreed with them that the lease should come to an end.”


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Inspirational local man takes first steps in nine years A trainee chef from Lewisham has defied the odds – and professional expectation – to walk again unaided, nine years after a freak accident left him paralysed. Darren Hinds, 32, was enjoying a night out in London in 2009 when he was caught in crossfire. The gunshot wound to his spine left him paralysed from the waist down. He was treated at King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill and was then transferred to Stoke Mandeville for specialist spinal cord injury rehabilitation. He spent five months there and was taught to adapt to life in a wheelchair. Once he was back home in Lewisham, Darren felt isolated, both from rehab care and from his social group. “I didn’t want people to see me in a wheelchair and I didn’t want their sympathy,” he said. “I withdrew for a while and was determined to regain more mobility. However, I hadn’t been signposted to any specialist physio or rehab care and was left to work on my own. “The message was, ‘You’re in a wheelchair now and need to adapt’, but I didn’t accept that.”

During the early stages of his rehabilitation, Darren had felt a slight sensation in the big toe on his right foot, so he focused hard on engaging this and developing a response from his right foot and leg. He worked for hours at home and at his local gym. His family clubbed together to buy him a walking frame so he could pull himself up to standing. This took three years to achieve, but Darren was determined to keep pushing forwards. Still working on his own, through hard graft and sheer force of will he managed to reach a point where he was just about walking with the aid of two crutches – although he wouldn’t really describe it as such. “I wasn’t exactly walking, as I was dragging my left foot and leg, which basically had no strength or control,” he said. The breakthrough moment for Darren came when he visited Neurokinex, a specialist spinal cord rehabilitation centre and registered charity that is based near Gatwick Airport. “[It was] very different from any rehab, physio or gym I’d experienced,” he said. “At that point I was very unsteady and felt like I could fall at any minute;

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Lewisham resident Darren Hinds has defied the odds to walk again unaided I really wanted to know if I could build strength and stability and hoped that, in turn, it would give me confidence.” Today Darren visits the clinic once a week for an intensive one-hour session. “It doesn’t feel like a hospital or rehab clinic – it’s an upbeat, thriving gym, full of positive people making gains,” he said. “It’s a real tonic and it has restored my confidence as much as my movement. I’m now able to stand, pivot on my feet and take unaided steps. It’s a massive change for me: a game-changer that I can walk again for the first time in nine years.” Morgan Price-King, Darren’s trainer at the clinic, said: “Darren has seen an excellent transition since joining us. He arrived using two crutches to walk and was really dragging his left leg. “He progressed to using one crutch and is now able to take a few steps unaided with a good gait, using both legs almost equally. “Our focus has been on improving his standing balance while completing challenging tasks like boxing and throwing, in order to allow him to feel more stable in different positions.” Reflecting on how far he has come, Darren said: “What has amazed me is that nine years after my injury I am making huge gains.” He said the activity-based rehabilitation techniques he has been using have brought about “immeasurable changes” in him, adding: “The idea that after a certain time has elapsed you won’t recover more is wrong.”


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Mural brightens up bridge An unloved stretch of wall on a busy road next to Lewisham Station has been transformed with a colourful new mural thanks to a local artist. Patricio Forrester, founder and creative director of Artmongers, took 17 days to paint the enormous artwork under a railway bridge. It depicts more than 100 blue figures dancing in circles against a bright orange background. Asked what drew him to the location, Patricio said: “Our niche at Artmongers is to make art in situations of adversity. We work in refugee camps, we work in hospitals, we work on busy roads and in situations where humans are under pressure. They’re not in a gallery where you have your quiet, contemplation moment. “I chose this location because it’s very noisy, it’s very polluted, there’s a lot of aggression. It’s like a funnel really – people have to walk along that tight bit of pavement to get to the bigger space beyond, so it’s quite a stressful corner. “It’s dark, there was some graffiti and tagging, and looking at how people behave in that kind of space, they’re very alienated. Most people are looking at their phones and if they’re not looking at their phones, they’re just trying to get out of there as soon as possible.” The epic work, titled Round About Now, has generated “the biggest reaction I’ve ever had”, Patricio said. “It was such a horrible space, it was so stressful, so if people can see you making a difference, they are very thankful. Since I started painting the mural I’ve been thanked about 150 times by people passing by – maybe more. “There was one really extraordinary moment where a bus driver who was waiting at the bus stop opened the doors, then he opened the driver’s compartment and he shouted, ‘That looks great!’ For me, that is the biggest reward – people coming forward to express their gratitude and saying, ‘What you’re doing is valuable.’”

Above: Round About Now by Artmongers Below: Patricio Forrester

The mural, which was commissioned by Lewisham Council, is intended to represent unity, harmony and togetherness – although Patricio said that its meaning is “really up to the viewer to complete”. He added: “There’s also another element, which is that the image only works in friction with the tough, adverse environment in which it exists. So it’s not really about the image itself, but how it connects with the environment that it’s in. It’s not a painting, it’s a mural that is in the nitty-gritty of reality. “If it talks about unity and togetherness, it does so as a reminder, because when we’re running for the train or we’re stuck in traffic, we will never think about those things.”

Broadway stars bid farewell The co-owner of Little Nan’s in Catford has described Lewisham Council’s decision to evict the business as “very sad”. Little Nan’s took over the cafe and bar at the Broadway Theatre in February 2017 after the council invited them to apply for the tender and transformed it into a much-loved destination. Owners Clare Turner and Tristan Scutt said that council officers carried out a prior assessment of their nighttime offering in Deptford and were given a detailed explanation of the Little Nan’s concept. But in July this year, the council invoked the two-year break clause in the bar’s contract, a decision it later said was due in part to access issues with the lift, which is located within the bar area, and soundproofing. The announcement was met with shock on social media and a petition urging the council to reconsider has been signed by almost 4,500 people.

Clare, who has worked in theatre for 20 years and was based at the Barbican before joining Little Nan’s, said: “If we all sat around a table and said let’s make this work, there are so many ways we could make it work. “It’s not about me, it’s about the community and the 4,500 people who signed that petition and desperately want us to stay. We are all going to suffer from this – it’s very, very sad. “What you really get from our reviews online is that Little Nan’s is a loving, caring and inclusive place with a community vibe and you can’t put money on that. It comes from a very special place, and

Lights out: Little Nan's in Catford will serve its last orders on New Year's Eve

Patricio moved from his native Argentina in 1995 to study at Goldsmiths and founded Artmongers in 2003. He has created some of Lewisham’s bestknown public artworks, including The Brockley Key, Cowbins and His ’n’ Hers – the giant necklace and tie painted on a Victorian end-of-terrace in Deptford. Now he’s planning another project at a refugee camp in Jordan, but rather than crowdfunding the work as he has done previously, this time it will be funded by the UN. “I’m also developing a project in the Western Sahara, also with refugees,” he said. “We want to do a giant desert brush with a truck that makes a very wide, white line so you can see it from Google Earth.” Watch this space. that’s why it hurts so much, because it’s not just money and time we’ve invested here, it’s love. Thankfully the community understands us and who we are. People say to me that this is one of the most unique places. Whatever happens, I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved.” Councillor Brenda Dacres, Lewisham’s cabinet member for parks, neighbourhoods and transport, said: “We had hoped that Little Nan’s would be able to stay for a longer period. Unfortunately, the venue has proven to be unsuitable for their operational needs as a business and has resulted in the loss of full access to the theatre space. The arrangements have also negatively impacted the theatre’s operations. “Through ongoing discussions with Little Nan’s, we have informed them of the issues that have arisen. Ultimately, staying at the venue is no longer an option based on the detrimental impact they have had on the running of theatre productions, as well as significant concerns about access, which has also been brought to our attention by theatre patrons. “We have given Little Nan’s as much notice as possible so that they are able to find another venue in the local area. Council officers are also looking at other options at the moment and will work with them to find an alternative space that is suitable for them.”

Celebrating Black History Month in Lewisham A series of free events exploring black history and culture will take centre stage at Lewisham Library in October, with a jam-packed programme offering everything from children’s craft activities to gospel music. Football fans won’t want to miss a talk by professional footballer turned performance coach Kevin George, who will be discussing his new book Soccology: Inside the Hearts and Minds of the Professionals on the Pitch. It looks at what factors influence a player’s performance during a game and what really goes on inside the hearts and minds of professional footballers, their managers and coaches. The book contains dozens of interviews with figures from the world of top-flight football, including Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph, and explores issues of psychological pressure, mental health and wellbeing in sport. Kevin, who previously played for West Ham and Charlton Athletic, will also discuss sports injury and the mental and physical attitude that is needed to recover in elite sports. Join him on October 9, 7-8pm in the library cafe area. Singing lessons and gospel music will be the focus of an event with gospel artist, speaker and vocal coach Claire B Donzet, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and grew up in France, before moving to the UK in 2006. The event, which is open to families and all ages, takes place on October 22 from 2-4pm. Tola Okogwu, hair-care expert, blogger and author of the children’s Daddy Do My Hair series, will give a reading from her book alongside related craft activities for kids on October 25 from 10.30-11.30am. The event is aimed at children aged four to eight. African-Caribbean percussionist, storyteller, singer and teacher Winston Nzinga invites you to play a drum, shaker or bell, sing along and listen to stories, songs and music from the Caribbean. Join Winston and make some music on October 26 from 2-3pm. While researching his ancestry, Paul Crooks discovered his great-great-great grandfather walked free from a sugar plantation in Jamaica in 1838. Come along to his talk on October 13 from 10.30am-12.15pm. For full details of events taking place, visit tinyurl.com/bhmlewisham

Children's author Tola Okogwu will give a reading from her book


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Helping homeless people in Deptford Lewisham’s first night shelter to open continuously for homeless people was launched last month. The Lewisham Shelter, which is run by local charity the 999 Club, provides 30 beds each night. Guests also receive dinner and breakfast, access to showers, a laundry service and healthcare. Expert staff are on hand to offer support with benefits advice and finding permanent accommodation. The shelter is funded by a grant of nearly £116,000 from the government’s Rough Sleepers initiative, which aims to expand vital services for homeless people. The cash will allow the shelter to run seven days a week until at least March 2019. It also pays for extra members of staff to work overnight at the shelter and for an increase in capacity from 20 to 30 beds per night. Tim Fallon, CEO of the 999 Club, said: “At a time of rising homelessness in the borough and across the country, the Lewisham Shelter provides a safe and warm refuge from the streets.

“Thanks to this grant, we will be able to help more people access the right services to help transform their lives.” The new Lewisham Shelter follows on from the charity’s summer shelter, which launched in July and was one of

The 999 Club's Zisca Burton with Junior, a guest at the charity's drop-in day centre

just three shelters of its kind operating in London during the summer period. More than 200 people donated over £20,000 to a crowdfunding campaign to fund the initiative. Sean was a guest at the summer night shelter, after periods of rough sleeping. He said: “I was on the streets, I was homeless. People were taking advantage of me, I was very vulnerable, so the council assisted me by telling me about this night shelter, and I am very thankful for that. “It is a great thing for the night shelter to be open in the summer. There are people in the summer who are homeless and just want to rest their heads at night, but it’s hard for them.” The 999 Club previously opened its shelter for 10 weeks over the winter, but in the last 18 months it has expanded its services as the number of homeless people in the borough has significantly increased – up by 270% between 2011/12 and 2016/17 according to figures from St Mungo’s and the GLA. The 999 Club is based at 21 Deptford Broadway.

New cinema coming to Catford A three-screen cinema is set to open in Catford next year, showing a mix of independent and blockbuster films. It will be located in Catford Shopping Centre in the unit currently occupied by Poundland, which was previously home to covered market Catford Mews. In addition to the 205-seat cinema, the site, which is expected to open in late spring, will feature a cafe, bar, music recording studios, a food court with local independent food vendors, space for live events and artists’ studios. The company behind the project is the Really Local Group, which aims to “promote the local arts and culture scene through the provision of bespoke and contemporary high street community spaces”. Catford has a long association with the silver screen and has been home to numerous cinemas over the years – including the Electric Picture Palace, the Eros and the Gaumont to name but a few – all of which have now closed. Chris Hancock, operations director for the Really Local Group, said: “The Catford space is 23,000 square feet, so it’s vast. At the moment Poundland only uses about 50% or 60% of it. “The bonus with this site is the amount of space we have to experiment with. A lot of venues are restricted by their physical environment, but we’ve got a lot of room here to do some really interesting things.” Chris, who previously worked in theatre production and ran a magic show that took him around the world, said the team has already been in touch with local groups such as Catford Arts and Catford Film, which organises the popular Catford free film festival. “The thing about Lewisham and Catford is that there’s such a great cultural network of people, artists and filmmakers in the area,” he said. “It’s really just about incorporating what’s already here.” The space will house between 12 and 14 recording studios that will be available to rent. They will be operated by Ten87, a Tottenham-based company

Poundland's branch on Winslade Way, which spans a vast 23,000 sq ft, is set to become a three-screen cinema

that provides creative workspace for music and sound. The cinema auditoriums will feature stages that can be used for live music or comedy events, and Chris said the group is in talks to stage a Catford comedy festival. The group will also be asking local people what they’d like to see in the space. Chris said: “It’s early enough in the planning process that we can respond and adapt to what people in Catford want – the things they would like to see straightaway and how the space can evolve as well.” Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan said: “It’s exciting to be getting set to welcome the return of a cinema to Catford. Catford always had a historic tradition as a cultural hub in

south London. We want to revive that tradition.” Preston Benson, founder of the Really Local Group, said: “We are delighted to announce our plans for the new Catford Mews. “For decades the residents of Catford and the wider area have been underserved with respect to leisure offerings and this motivated us to launch this new multi-functional space. “It will be affordable, pay the London Living Wage and will grow prosperity by providing employment for local people and addressing the lack of creative workspace in the area. Building on Catford’s cultural foundations, it will celebrate the area’s diversity and will be our contribution to revitalising Catford town centre.”

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Forest Hill residents rescue hidden war memorial A poignant memorial bearing the names of 68 young men from Forest Hill who were killed in World War One is set to go back on public display 100 years after the conflict ended. The marble memorial was once fixed to the wall of Christ Church on South Road in SE23. But when the church fell into disrepair and was turned into flats with a chapel on the side, the memorial was buried under debris and forgotten. Janet Killeen, a former teacher at Sydenham School who has lived in Forest Hill since 1970, later came across the memorial and decided to rescue it. “It had just been put to one side, stuff had been put on top of it and it had been buried and forgotten,” Janet said. “I happened to see it one day and thought it should be reinstated somewhere. A little group of us from St George’s [on Vancouver Road] decided to get to work to put it back on public view.” Janet has painstakingly researched all 68 men on the memorial and has found an age, address and date of death for all but one, a man called William Griffiths. Some of the men were decorated, one was awarded the Victoria Cross and nearly all were in their early 20s or younger when they died. “The impact on the local area is almost inconceivable really – the tragedy and the bereavements and the damage to a generation,” Janet said. “Researching all the names has been very poignant. We’ve found things like twin brothers who died who lived in Hindsley’s Place, brothers who were killed and only sons. “All the local connections will really register with people I think, as quite a lot of the addresses are still here. The house opposite where I live, the people who lived there during the war lost their son. A hundred years ago these people would have been our neighbours.” The memorial will now be placed in Christ Church Chapel garden, so it will be visible to the public for many years to come. To mark the occasion, all are invited to a special Remembrance Day service at the chapel on November 11. A booklet detailing Janet’s research on each of the 68 men will be given to everyone who attends. Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan will be at the service, along with MP Ellie Reeves, local councillors and the Bishop of Woolwich. It will be led by local vicar the Rev Richard Lane. Janet has also tracked down a greatniece of one of the men, who is now in her 90s and is planning to attend. “Hopefully it will be quite a special, moving occasion,” Janet said. “We want it to be a real community event. If people don’t normally come to church that doesn’t matter. It’s a way of gathering people and saying, ‘This is us, this is Forest Hill 100 years on and we still care about these things.’” The service takes place on November 11 at 3pm at Christ Church Chapel, South Road


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Portraits of young people go on show A new exhibition that shines a spotlight on young people from Lewisham from the 1970s and today is going on show at Catford Shopping Centre. It will feature a selection of images from the iconic Lovers’ Rock series – a collection of portraits of British AfricanCaribbean youngsters that were taken at Lewisham Youth Centre in 1977 by photographic artist John Goto. The images will be displayed alongside a new series of portraits of young people who live, study or work in the

borough in 2018, snapped by renowned photographer Des Willie. Visitors will have the chance to hear music and stories from both the Lovers’ Rock reggae era and today and will be invited to share their own memories and join in activities led by artists, academics and Lewisham residents. Des has worked as a professional photographer for 25 years and specialises in portraiture and drama. His most recent work includes the publicity shot for hit BBC drama Bodyguard, which features home secretary Julia Montague (played by Keeley Hawes) and her bodyguard David Budd (Richard Madden) emerging from a car outside 10 Downing Street. Asked for his thoughts on Then & Now, Des said: “I was excited by the project from the get-go. As well as enjoying taking photographs, I am passionate about photography. Projects like this are really important as a record and document, but also to help work out who we are. I would like to think another photographer and team might pick the baton up and do it again 40 years from now.” The exhibition is part of the Made in Lewisham initiative from Story Matters, a not-for-profit community interest company that helps people and communities share and tell their stories. Made in Lewisham was launched in January 2017 and is described as a “celebration of everything that is great about Lewisham – its people, its creativity and its cultural heritage”. Katherine Perry, founder and director of Story Matters, said: “We are excited and honoured to share these landmark photographs taken 41 years apart by two great photographers, and to be able to celebrate our young people and shine a light on their importance in the borough both historically and today.”

Below: an image from the 1977 Lovers' Rock series by John Goto Right: a new portrait by Des Willie

Then & Now is on display from October 13-28 at 2-3 Winslade Way, Catford Shopping Centre. For more information and to get your free tickets, visit thenandnowlewisham.co.uk

Shining a spotlight on stories of suffrage From Catford laundry worker Clara Lambert to Blackheath headmistress Florence Gadesden, many women who lived and worked in Lewisham played a part in the suffrage campaign that led to women gaining the vote, writes Julie Robinson. Now their stories are being told in an interesting display at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, held 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918. It granted women over 30 with a property qualification the right to vote, with equal suffrage becoming law in 1928. A number of prominent figures in the national campaigning efforts had links to Lewisham. Emily Wilding Davison, who was fatally injured after stepping in front of the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913, was born in Blackheath. Suffragist Millicent Fawcett attended a Blackheath girls’ school run by an aunt of the poet Robert Browning; while Florence Gadesden, headmistress of Blackheath High School for Girls, was also an ardent suffragist and an early advocate of education for girls. Rosa May Billinghurst was born in Granville Park, Lewisham. As a child she contracted polio, which left her unable to walk. She smashed a window in Covent Garden as part of a Women’s Social

Above: surveillance photo of Clara Lambert in prison, © Museum of London. Right: Edith New

and Political Union (WSPU) campaign and was jailed for a month. In 1912 she was charged with damaging postboxes in Blackheath as part of the suffragettes’ letterbox campaign and was sent to Holloway Prison for eight months, where she went on a hunger strike and was force-fed. She later chained her wheelchair to the railings of Buckingham Palace. Clara Lambert was a laundry worker from the Corbett Estate in Catford, who joined the Lewisham branch of the WSPU and became a militant suffragette. She dressed in men’s clothes to gain entry to the Houses of Parliament at a time when women were not allowed in. She smashed exhibits in the British Museum and was imprisoned in Holloway, where she went on a hunger strike and was kept under surveillance by the government. After the WSPU called off its militant campaigning in 1914 to support the war effort, Clara became a policewoman. The Townsend sisters, Caroline and Hannah, were teachers and Lewisham WSPU activists who lived on Murillo Road in Hither Green. They campaigned for women’s rights through their teaching union.

Along with Billinghurst, Lambert and many other suffragettes, the sisters boycotted the government’s 1911 national census by refusing to be counted. The census was widely associated with citizenship and citizenship with suffrage. “No vote, no census” became a rallying cry. Edith New taught at Creek Road School in Deptford between 1906-08 before becoming a full-time WSPU organiser. She was one of the first suffragettes to smash windows. After breaking windows at 10 Downing Street in 1908, she was arrested and sent to Holloway, where she was visited by Emmeline Pankhurst. She later taught at St Mary’s Primary School in Lewisham. Russian immigrant Eugenia Bouvier was secretary of the WSPU’s Lewisham branch. She spoke on the same platform as Charlotte Despard and Christabel Pankhurst at a public meeting in Ladywell in 1907. She later died in the Soviet Union under mysterious circumstances. The suffrage centenary exhibition is on display at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, 199201 Lewisham High Street, until October 17.


12 N EWS

Community library calls for volunteers A local library is appealing for more volunteers as it prepares to celebrate two years as a community-managed space. The Archibald Corbett Library on Torridon Road in Catford is “100% volunteer-run” and hosts a huge variety of activities, nearly all of which are free to attend. They include English language classes, weekly Slimming World, knit and natter, a dementia-friendly reminiscence group, baby bounce, homework club and kids’ craft. A coding club is also in the pipeline. On-site services include reflexology massage treatments, as well as daily breakfast and after-school club. There are nine PCs and wifi that are free to use and printing facilities too. Volunteer project coordinator Stephen Modell said: “The mix of people you get to interact with and work with here is great. It’s all ages, all backgrounds and everyone comes in, from mums and babies to elderly people.” The library, which opens Monday to Saturday (except Wednesdays and Friday afternoons) has been forced to close early on several occasions recently due to volunteer shortages. Stephen said: “Volunteering is so rewarding and very straightforward. You don’t need any special skills and training is provided, but without people to put in the man hours we simply can’t do it.” Volunteers range from young people looking for work experience to retirees. Anyone can get involved, from those with a couple of spare hours here and

there to others looking to take on a more regular commitment. “There’s a position and a place for anyone who comes through the double doors,” Stephen said. “We just need more people who are keen to make a bit of an impact.”

As well as general volunteers, the library is specifically looking for gardeners and people to revamp its website and branding. WordPress website design skills would be particularly handy. Anyone getting involved now will be joining the library at an exciting point in

Stephen Modell from the Archibald Corbett Community Library

time. The bookcases are set to be put on wheels to open up the main space for a regular programme of events and exhibitions, including theatre nights, choral performances and lots more. “It’ll allow us to move everything out of the way so we’ve got a massive open space,” Stephen said. “The quiz night will be a bit more banging and we’re getting a projector and a drop-down screen for film nights. It will make the facility a blank canvas that will allow us to open up to all sorts of possibilities and different ways of bringing the community together.” The library is run by a charity formed by the Archibald Corbett Society and the Corbett Residents’ Association, which took over the management of the library from Lewisham Council in October 2016, saving it from closure. Asked what makes the library special, Stephen said: “Heritage, full stop. The architecture alone is lovely – it’s a gradeII-listed building and it’s so unique. Then we have the attachment on the side, the activities centre, which is the new build. I think we have everything that benefits the community. “When the kids come in to do their homework club and you think about the library not being here, you realise that just couldn’t work. I had a desk at home [as a kid] and I was lucky to have that. It puts things into perspective.” If you're interested in volunteering, pop into the library or email volunteer@ corbettcommunitycentre.co.uk


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Frankenstein Fridays at Deptford Cinema As the darker nights draw in, Deptford Cinema is set to screen a series of Frankenstein-themed films, which will celebrate gothic literature legend Mary Shelley on the 200th anniversary of her seminal novel. The Frankenstein Forever series will feature a monster mash-up of B-movies and cult classics that are inspired by but not direct remakes of Frankenstein. They will run on five consecutive Fridays in a programme that has been created “with the true cult film fan in mind”. The season starts on November 2, with Jim Sharman’s 1975 camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It will be a sing-along screening hosted by the cinema’s comperes. In the film, straight-laced sweethearts Brad Majors and Janet Weiss find themselves with a flat tyre on a rainy night. Setting off to get help, they end up at the eerie castle of Dr Frank-N-Furter and his eccentric entourage. Rocky Horror goody bags will be provided for all guests, who are encouraged to “dress to impress”, and the cinema bar will be open late for a Meat Loaf medley and spooky tunes. The following week, B-movie legend Roger Corman’s 1990 film Frankenstein Unbound will be shown on November 9. Set in the year 2031, it tells the story of a scientist (played by John Hurt) who makes a brilliant discovery, before a

technical glitch transports him and his car back to the early 1800s. While there, he meets Dr Frankenstein and his contemporaries, but when he realises that the events described in Mary Shelley’s novel are about to come true, he has to find a way to stop the experiments and get back to the 21st century. The third film on the bill is William Beaudine’s Wild West horror movie Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter on November 16. The plot sees outlaw Jesse James meet the granddaughter of Dr Frankenstein, who proceeds to turn his friend into a zombie. The 1966 film has achieved “mind-boggling cult status”, according to Radio Times. Next up is a showing of Japanese scifi kaiju film Frankenstein Conquers the World on November 23, which will appeal to fans of old-school physical special effects. During World War Two, a human heart from Dr Frankenstein’s lab is taken to Japan, where it is exposed to radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart grows in size, mutates into a full body and escapes. Described as “easily the weirdest” Frankenstein-inspired film, it will be followed by the ultimate Frankenstein pub quiz. The season will draw to a gory close with a screening of the 1989 sci-fi horror film Bride of Re-Animator on November 30.

Catch Japanese sci-fi film Frankenstein Conquers the World in Deptford next month

Frankenstein Forever season marks the launch of the Deptford Cinema Cult Film Society, which aims to bring cult film fans together to socialise at short seasons dedicated to particular themes. Deptford Cinema is an award-winning community cinema and arts venue that is not-for-profit and 100% run by volunteers. Everyone is welcome to get involved, volunteering for anything from programming and marketing to working behind the bar.

Those who are interested in finding out more are welcome to attend the weekly public meeting on Sundays at 11am at 39 Deptford Broadway, or get stuck in right away by joining the volunteer mailing list – email info@deptfordcinema.org to sign up. Frankenstein Forever season runs from November 2-30 at Deptford Cinema. For more information and tickets, visit deptfordcinema.org


14 S PORT

l

ewisham-born Daniel Bell-Drummond is a sportsman with a difference, who is also striving to make a

difference. The 25-year-old Kent opening batsman has won admiring reviews since his debut as a teenager back in 2011, representing England at under-15, under-17, under-19 and “A team” level along the way. However, Daniel is not satisfied with merely achieving professional excellence. The inspirational cricketer also has a loftier and more selfless mission in mind – he’s established an organisation called Platform, which aims to inspire the youth of Lewisham to take up cricket and help improve the sport’s currently poor record at encouraging and nurturing talent from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds. Still buzzing from a match-winning knock of 62 runs against Middlesex in a 20/20 showdown the day before he spoke to The Lewisham Ledger, Daniel, who is engaging and thoughtful company, explains his rationale for setting up Platform. “Growing up in Lewisham I was quite lucky because my parents sent me away to private school,” he says. “I had good cricket coaching. I used to come back to Lewisham in the summer holidays and I realised I had life pretty good. I had lots of advantages.

Daniel BellDrummond hopes to play cricket for England some day, but he also has ambitions closer to home. He explains how he's determined to help more talent from inner-city, disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds into the sport

A DECLARATION of

INTENT WORDS BY LUKE G WILLIAMS

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER MCBRIDE WILSON

“I’m proud of where I’m from and I thought, ‘If I’m in a position to help young kids come through and discover cricket then why not?’ Cricket isn’t really big in schools in Lewisham so I wanted to get in there and see what I could do.” Daniel and a business partner first devised the idea for Platform last summer, but the project really kicked off earlier this year. “We’ve been into about 14 primary schools in the north of Lewisham, in the Deptford and New Cross area, and have coached year four kids,” Daniel says. “We wanted to start small and make sure the programme worked and make sure we didn’t promise things we couldn’t deliver. “The kids have been coached in curriculum time during their PE lessons. We felt it was important to use curriculum time so that all the kids could have a taste of cricket and discover whether they liked it or not.” So far, to Daniel’s delight, the response from pupils has been overwhelmingly positive, while Platform has also received extensive coverage in the national press and media, including the BBC website and the Guardian. “The response has been brilliant and it’s been bigger than we expected,” Daniel says. “But that’s what happens when you have a good cause and a good plan behind it, so we’re hopeful it can continue. “In terms of the schools, it’s been received really well – a lot of the kids


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have loved it. Cricket is a great sport and it teaches a lot of life lessons, like teamwork and discipline. Hopefully we can get more schools and kids involved.” Laudably, Platform has so far been funded entirely out of Daniel and his business partner’s pockets. “A couple of things didn’t go to plan to start with, so we’ve covered it ourselves financially to make sure we didn’t let any schools down,” he explains. “We’re looking for funding and there are some avenues we are exploring. Hopefully the England and Wales Cricket Board and Kent [County Cricket Club] can help. We’ve also been speaking to Lewisham Council, and we’re looking for local businesses who might be willing to sponsor us.” As well as its work in schools, Platform runs an open cricket session every Wednesday at 5pm in Deptford Park, for local children aged seven to 10. “That’s open to all kids in the programme and also to kids whose schools aren’t involved,” Daniel says. “They’re all welcome. We started those sessions up so we are offering something outside of school too.” He also held an inter-school cricket tournament in the park with the

support of local group DeptfordFolk, which involved more than 400 children from schools in the most deprived parts of the borough. The context against which Platform is attempting to succeed is alarming. In contrast to the 1980s and 90s, when cricketers of African-Caribbean descent such as Devon Malcolm and Gladstone Small were a common sight at county and test cricket grounds across the country, today there are just eight black or mixed-race cricketers playing in the 18-team county championship. Furthermore, the last state school-educated cricketer to be an England test match regular was Paul Collingwood, who retired from the game last month after 22 years of playing professionally. When pressed for the reasons why black, inner-city and working-class youngsters aren’t more involved in cricket, Daniel gives a considered and typically thoughtful, but also forthright, response. “This plays on my mind quite a bit. I think there’s a number of reasons to be honest. A lot of the kids involved in Platform live in Deptford or New Cross, where there’s no cricket club.

Daniel Bell-Drummond

Cricket is a great sport and it teaches a lot of life lessons, like teamwork and discipline

In fact, I think the nearest club is in Blackheath or Catford. “Money is also a problem for some families, as is getting kids to the games. Do parents have the time to drive or take their kids to the games? Or to afford kit, which can be very expensive? “There’s also a social aspect to it. Kids need role models to get involved in sport and when they watch the TV they often see footballers. Football is an easier sport to play in the park than cricket. “There’s also so much money in football, so that’s an attractive option for many kids. Often by the time kids are 15 or 16 they only know football if they haven’t been brought into a game like cricket earlier. “Hopefully the kids involved in Platform will learn about the game to the point where they want to spend half a day if not more at the cricket, like I did as a kid. That’s why we’re trying to get kids into cricket early.” Daniel also agrees when I suggest that the lack of live test cricket coverage on terrestrial television since 2005 has probably damaged the sport’s ability to connect with youngsters.

“I think the new franchise tournament will hopefully help with that, with BBC coverage included [the eight-team, city-based tournament named ‘The Hundred’ is due to start in 2020]. Hopefully that will help people who don’t have Sky or BT Sport to watch cricket. If kids don’t get to see a lot of cricket on TV and there are no clubs near where they live, why would they play it?” Daniel’s own route into the game came courtesy of his cricket-mad, Jamaican-born father. “He played for Catford Wanderers and I followed him to a lot of those games. He used to take all the family on Saturdays. That’s how I grew to love cricket. With both of my parents being Jamaican I grew up watching West Indies and England, I loved both teams. “Once my dad saw I loved the game he gave me every opportunity to succeed by always being there. He knew the game himself and is a decent coach. And he also sent me to some good schools along the way.” Dulwich Prep school served as Daniel’s “bridge between south London and public school”, before he boarded at the prestigious Millfield School in Somerset, which has produced numerous first-class cricketers over the years. “My dad wanted to give me the best opportunity of doing well in cricket,” he says. “Millfield, without wanting to sound biased, is probably the best cricket school in the country. A number of professionals would agree with that.” Despite the potential culture shock of moving from south London to a rural public school, Daniel admits: “Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t find it more difficult. I just got on with it. “I’d always played cricket from a young age so I’d been on tours away from home, for example the Taunton Festival with Kent age-groups. From the age of eight, nine or 10 I would go away for weeks at a time, so as a kid I was used to being away from home. “Obviously I missed home and I missed being around my people. But my mind was just on sport and Millfield is that to a tee – if you’re not working you’re playing sport so there’s not much time to think about other stuff really.” Moving forward, Daniel admits there is one major on-field ambition that he is still aching to fulfil – namely representing England in test-match cricket. “My goal is to play for England,” he says. “That’s my main goal. I didn’t grow up wanting to settle for just being ‘OK’. It’s going to be tough, I’ve played for the Lions and I did quite well for them. To play for England you need to be consistent for your county. “I still believe I can do it. Obviously it’s not going to be easy, but I definitely don’t want to settle for just being an average county cricketer. The reason I’ve made it this far is because I’m quite ambitious. “Even though I had a very privileged upbringing, being from Lewisham I know what life can be like. I’ve seen how tough life can be. I know I’m very lucky and I feel I have to make the most of the chance I have and give it 100%. I grew up with this sport in my veins really. I wake up to play cricket. That’s how I live my life. Those are the things that keep me striving.”


16 PH OTOGRAP H Y

WORDS BY NIKKI SPENCER

This page, clockwise from right: Tony Barratt, Neneh Cherry, Everything but the Girl, Tom Waits Opposite, clockwise from top: Leonard Cohen, Gil ScottHeron, Sinéad O'Connor, Nirvana

ack in the early 1980s, when Tony Barratt arrived to work on the now defunct Melody Maker magazine, fresh from his photography degree at Harrow College, a fellow photographer called Tom Sheehan told him: “Rock photography isn’t all glamorous you know. Most of the time it’s making a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” “Those words always stuck with me so when I decided to put on an exhibition of my work, calling it A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear seemed the obvious choice”, says Tony, who lives in Hither Green and now works as head of design and technology at a prep school in Kent. A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear consists of 21 striking portraits, which are on show this autumn at Park Fever craft beer and chocolate shop in Hither Green. For years Tony had been thinking about putting on an exhibition of work from his days working as a freelance

B

The path to

As a music photographer for NME, Tony Barratt travelled the world, taking pictures of everyone from Neneh Cherry and Nirvana to Leonard Cohen and Lemmy. A selection of his portraits are now on display at an exhibition in Hither Green

nirvana


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music photographer and when the bar opened on his doorstep last year, he felt it was the obvious place to do it. “When Adrian Varley opened Park Fever it seemed the ideal location to exhibit – it’s local and friendly with decent beer,” Tony says. The response from Park Fever customers has been enthusiastic. “The exhibition is a great conversationstarter. People love to talk about all the bands and their memories of them”, says Adrian. “It’s also been popular on social media, with people tweeting that they are in Park Fever with Jools Holland etcetera.” After working for Melody Maker for a couple of years, Tony moved on to the “far cooler and more influential NME”, and many of the photos in the exhibition are cover shots commissioned by the music magazine. For 10 years he travelled all around the world taking pictures in musicians’ homes, hotel rooms, dressing rooms and out on the streets. Alongside every image in the exhibition is a short

anecdote about how Tony landed the shot and what the subject was like, providing the viewer with a unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the world of rock music photography. “The pressure was always on to get a shot that was different from what had been seen before and make an impact, especially at NME”, he explains. “Musicians can be prima donnas at times and with bands there’s that extra pressure of trying to keep them all happy. Drink and drugs inevitably played a part too so you had to tread carefully.” When Tony took the photo of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, he recalls Cobain being in the “grips of narcolepsy and constantly swigging cough medicine”. Tony had just become a father for the first time when he got the commission and he recalls dissing them as just “another crap indie band”. “My daughter had just been born and I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know what day it was. I’d never heard of this band I had to go and take a photo of, but the next week they released Nevermind and they became the biggest band on the planet.” Tony’s photo was reprinted as an NME cover in 2011 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nevermind. Another particularly memorable shoot took place during the 1992 LA riots. Tony had flown out to photograph British rock band The Cult, but just as they were wrapping up the shoot in a still-burning building, who should walk past but Lemmy from Motörhead. “It was all quite surreal,” Tony recalls. “We ended up going back to his tiny apartment where he kept the curtains closed all day and drank copious amounts of Jack Daniel’s.” Tony would always try to have an idea of what he could get his subject to do ahead of the shoot and would sometimes bring along props. When Sonic Youth did a photo shoot to coincide with their sixth album Goo in 1990, he took along some pots of goo, the kids’ slime. “Initially the band weren’t that enamoured with the idea but warmed to it as we started shooting. A friend who was on the shoot still has one of those half-full pots as a memento.” When Tony was booked to photograph former Sex Pistol Malcolm McLaren, he decided to bring along an oversized picture frame as he thought it would provide an interesting focal point. “I was quite surprised when Malcolm said he thought it was a good idea and was happy to pose with it, but by this time he was less the punk agent provocateur and more the LAbased businessman.” Other musicians suggested ideas themselves, and then some changed their minds. “Sinéad O’Connor said she wanted to do something pared back and without makeup for an NME cover,” Tony recalls. “I love the striking simplicity of the photo, but then she apparently hated it because she had no makeup on.” While some subjects would vanish straight after the shoot, others were in no rush to leave. “Despite being distracted by calls from his wife – who was about to give birth – Tom Waits whipped my backside at pool in the Palladium Club, which is in the background of the photo,” Tony recalls.

Tom Waits whipped my backside at pool in the Palladium Club

Over the years Tony got to meet many of his heroes, including Leonard Cohen. “It can be disappointing when you meet a hero but Cohen was absolutely wonderful; kind, patient and a lovely rascal of a gentleman.” In addition to the photo in the exhibition, where Cohen is sitting crosslegged on a hotel room bed, Tony also took a photo of Cohen holding his (Tony’s) daughter Lucca, which featured as a photo story in the Guardian a few years ago. “My wife was working and we didn’t have childcare so I took Lucca, who was then about two, along with me to the shoot. Leonard had this reputation as a bit of a whisky drinking ladies’ man, so I thought it would be good to photograph him with her. He hung her upside down, which she loved and it made a great photo. My daughter now works in the music business so it’s quite a cool thing for her to be able to show the photo to her colleagues and go, ‘That’s me!’” The Park Fever exhibition is just a snapshot of Tony’s work – the walls of his family home, just around the corner, are covered with dozens more images from his archive. So could there be a follow-on exhibition, with yet more rock ’n’ roll tales? “Maybe”, Tony smiles as he shares one last story about the photo of Barry White that currently hangs in his kitchen. “It was taken at his home in Sherman Oaks in LA in the late 80s. He was lovely, although his voice was so deep that I didn’t understand what he said when I arrived. It turned out that he was just asking if I wanted a cup of tea!” A Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear is currently on show at Park Fever, 21a Staplehurst Road. Prints from the exhibition are for sale at £75 each


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n February 15, 2013, my beloved daughter Ella Roberta finally lost her battle with lifethreatening asthma. She was nine. There remain many questions unanswered. Why did she suddenly become ill at seven years old when she was born incredibly healthy? We didn’t smoke, we didn’t have an excessive lifestyle – we were just an average family from Lewisham. So the question, why Ella? Ella was a sporty, happy and intelligent child who loved school, dancing, skateboarding, cycling, swimming and football. She spent a lot of time playing outside and was very fit. She was not known to the medical profession – in fact her early GP records give no indication of what was going to happen later. Three months short of her seventh birthday, Ella developed what we now know was life-threatening asthma. She was rushed to hospital 27 times over the next three years to keep her alive. This did not include outpatient and specialist appointments to find out what was causing her hypoxic seizures. At an inquest in September 2014 into her sudden death, the pathologist said that “Ella had one of the worst cases of asthma ever recorded”. It was concluded that she died due to a severe asthma attack followed by a seizure, which was caused by an allergic reaction “to something in the air”. Now an expert believes he can explain the mystery of what that “something in the air” is. Since Ella’s death there has been extensive research looking at the impact of air pollution on children’s health, especially the damage it causes to their lungs and how it contributes to the onset of asthma. Professor Stephen Holgate, who is an expert on the impact of air pollution on health, has examined Ella’s case and found evidence that her hospital visits were linked to illegal levels of air pollution around our home near the south circular. The day before Ella’s passing had one of the worst spikes in air pollution near the road. Professor Holgate used data from pollution monitoring stations, which showed that air pollution was breaking the legal limits that are allowed for much of Ella’s illness. He concluded there was a “real prospect that without illegal levels of air pollution, Ella would not have died”. I am asking the original inquest to be quashed as there is evidence to show that there is a strong link to air pollution. The question remains, if Ella did die from spikes in illegal levels of air pollution, who is responsible? We recently launched a petition on change.org for a new inquest as we believe it is in the public interest. It has been signed by more than 174,000 people and continues to rise. Our local MP Vicky Foxcroft has written to the attorney general in support of a new inquest, as has the mayor Sadiq Khan. Speaking to Professor Holgate about what caused Ella’s death, he is certain there is a strong association with air pollution and like me, he believes this should be stated on her death certificate. It will be a landmark case if that happens, as we now know that air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK but it has never been put on a death certificate.

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If Ella did die from spikes in illegal levels of air pollution, who is responsible?

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s daughter Ella Roberta lost her battle with asthma in 2013 aged just nine. Now the teacher, activist and mother is campaigning for a new inquest into her death, which she says was caused by illegal levels of air pollution near her home

FIGHTING FOR ELLA AS TOLD TO ROSARIO BLUE PHOTO FROM THE ELLA ROBERTA ESTATE

If we can show that air pollution had a direct link to Ella’s death, the government will finally have to take air pollution seriously and clean up the air that is poisoning our children. In London, 204,600 children and young people have asthma and research has shown they are breathing this [pollution] in on their way to school and in their school buildings. I am more hopeful than ever as new extensive scientific research backs Ella’s case and explains how she

Above: Rosamund's daughter Ella Roberta loved school and was a talented musician

became ill. I have to believe that Ella’s life was worth it. Her life was always going to be worth it to me, but I’d like to think she didn’t die in vain. I want to encourage people to think about how air pollution is affecting them and what they can do in their neighbourhoods to clean up the air. Looking across London hospitals and the number of children admitted with breathing difficulties, air pollution is affecting everyone. I receive letters from members of the public who ask why we didn’t move house, but a lot of information has only come to light since Ella’s passing. At one stage the government was actively encouraging us to buy diesel cars and like most of the general public, I had no idea of the damage it was causing. We had no idea that Ella could have been breathing in particles since birth, as her symptoms came out much later. I now understand that was seven years’ worth of damage. And then I ask the question, what about the other children in Lewisham who are breathing in these same particles and can’t afford to move? Lewisham is one of the most deprived boroughs in London. We set up the Ella Roberta Family Foundation in 2014 to find the answers to what happened to Ella and to raise awareness about the dangers of asthma among young people. Dr Colin Wallis, who had the idea, was one of Ella’s respiratory consultants based at Great Ormond Street Hospital. He wanted the foundation to benefit young people who live in Lewisham. Every year Ella’s foundation puts on a festive fundraising concert. Ella was a talented musician and musicians in the borough lend their talent to raise funds in her memory. This year’s concert will be on November 24, from 5-7pm at St Swithun’s Church

[on Hither Green Lane]. If you are a musician and would like to support the foundation, please send us an email. The mayor of Lewisham will be attending with other local councillors. Ella’s foundation is a small registered charity and we rely on donations and grants to survive. If you live locally and you would like to join the foundation to help raise funds, please get in touch. I will end by saying what Ella wanted. She was very kind and wouldn’t have wanted anyone to suffer like she did. She said to Dr Wallis, ‘I hope nobody has got asthma as bad as me’, to which he replied, ‘I doubt it – your asthma is rare and unique and one day you will be in the medical books.’” I try now not to focus on her illnesses and remember the joy she brought to our family and many others. I think of how musically talented she was. I remember how much she loved her school, her friends and how good she was at everything she tried. There were many highlights to her short life. There will always be her birthday, Christmas, the day she passed away and when she was buried. But most of the time when I think about her, I smile, because she was very funny in fact – extremely funny and loving, and she would want me to add, very bright. If she was here now, where would she be? Ella would be in year 10, she would be in the air cadets. That was her passion, to be a pilot. Isn’t it ironic that the air she loved so much might have in the end taken her life. To sign the change.org petition for a new inquest into Ella’s death, please go to tinyurl.com/ ellarobertapetition. Donate to the foundation via justgiving.com/ ellaroberta-familyfoundation, and to contact Rosamund, email info@ellaroberta.org


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

WORDS BY JACK ASTON

THE LEWIS HAM LEDGER

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PHOTOS BY ELISABETH BLANCHET

Left: a floral front garden on the Excalibur Estate Right: Jim Blackender, a key figure in the fight against redevelopment Below: a resident and his radio collection

Above and right: inside the Excalibur Estate prefabs Below: a bungalow on Ector Road and a prefab kitchen

y the end of World War Two, London was in the grip of a housing crisis, with huge numbers of homes in Lewisham and beyond reduced to rubble by the Blitz. As a quick fix, German and Italian prisoners of war were set to work building thousands of temporary prefabricated houses for returning soldiers and those who had lost their homes. More than 156,000 of the diminutive dwellings sprung up across the UK between 1945-8, with each one taking between eight hours and three days to construct. Dubbed “palaces for the people”, they were kitted out with all the mod cons, including indoor toilets, baths with hot running water, fitted kitchens and fridges. Complete with private gardens so residents could grow their own produce, which was particularly important with post-war rationing still in force, they contrasted with the

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cramped inner-city dwellings that many people had lived in previously. The properties were only intended to last for 10 years, but many survived a lot longer, including the Excalibur Estate in Catford. Built in 1945-6, its 187 bungalows were designed by the Ministry of Works and built by the Uni-Seco company, on a series of streets named after Arthurian legend. The estate went on to become Britain’s largest surviving collection of postwar prefabs, but in 2005, Lewisham Council decided the cost of bringing the properties up to the Decent Homes Standard was too great and that replacing the estate with new homes was the best option. This led to a high-profile campaign against the plans by some residents. In 2010, the council held a ballot on its proposals, in which residents voted for the regeneration by a slim majority. Some said the prefabs were cold and past their prime, but Jim Blackender,

a key figure in the fight to save them, said residents were bullied into voting for the scheme. In 2012, Excalibur resident Eddie O’Mahoney, then 92, told the Guardian: “I could throttle the mayor of Lewisham when he says, ‘I want these people to have decent homes.’ There’s nothing wrong with my home. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful. I’d back my place against his any time.” Julia Woods, 63, told the paper: “Moving here nine years ago was like coming to a little desert island. We’d had dreadful problems with noise and I couldn’t stand it any more. This was ground floor, no stairs, no noisy neighbours and we had a garden. We’d never had a garden in our whole married life. It was just pure bliss.” Housing association L&Q is now building 371 new homes on the site, which will be released in several phases. Six prefabs were listed by English Heritage and the prefab

The Excalibur was a great community, with street parties and neighbours looking after each other

church, St Mark’s, which is built on Church of England land, will remain. In 2002, photographer Elisabeth Blanchet started documenting the Excalibur Estate and other prefabs, as well as the people who lived in them. “The Excalibur was a great community,” she says. “Almost all the prefabs were well looked after and some residents participated in garden prizes. There were street parties and neighbours looking after each other.” Elisabeth has just published her second book on prefabs with journalist Sonia Zhuravlyova. Featuring 100 photographs, it recounts residents’ experiences, from the first time they laid eyes on their prefabs to their attempts to hold onto their homes as redevelopment threatened. Prefabs: A Social and Architectural History, by Elisabeth Blanchet and Sonia Zhuravlyova, is published by Historic England and costs £20


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PHOTOS BY ELISABETH BLANCHET

Left: a floral front garden on the Excalibur Estate Right: Jim Blackender, a key figure in the fight against redevelopment Below: a resident and his radio collection

Above and right: inside the Excalibur Estate prefabs Below: a bungalow on Ector Road and a prefab kitchen

y the end of World War Two, London was in the grip of a housing crisis, with huge numbers of homes in Lewisham and beyond reduced to rubble by the Blitz. As a quick fix, German and Italian prisoners of war were set to work building thousands of temporary prefabricated houses for returning soldiers and those who had lost their homes. More than 156,000 of the diminutive dwellings sprung up across the UK between 1945-8, with each one taking between eight hours and three days to construct. Dubbed “palaces for the people”, they were kitted out with all the mod cons, including indoor toilets, baths with hot running water, fitted kitchens and fridges. Complete with private gardens so residents could grow their own produce, which was particularly important with post-war rationing still in force, they contrasted with the

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cramped inner-city dwellings that many people had lived in previously. The properties were only intended to last for 10 years, but many survived a lot longer, including the Excalibur Estate in Catford. Built in 1945-6, its 187 bungalows were designed by the Ministry of Works and built by the Uni-Seco company, on a series of streets named after Arthurian legend. The estate went on to become Britain’s largest surviving collection of postwar prefabs, but in 2005, Lewisham Council decided the cost of bringing the properties up to the Decent Homes Standard was too great and that replacing the estate with new homes was the best option. This led to a high-profile campaign against the plans by some residents. In 2010, the council held a ballot on its proposals, in which residents voted for the regeneration by a slim majority. Some said the prefabs were cold and past their prime, but Jim Blackender,

a key figure in the fight to save them, said residents were bullied into voting for the scheme. In 2012, Excalibur resident Eddie O’Mahoney, then 92, told the Guardian: “I could throttle the mayor of Lewisham when he says, ‘I want these people to have decent homes.’ There’s nothing wrong with my home. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful. I’d back my place against his any time.” Julia Woods, 63, told the paper: “Moving here nine years ago was like coming to a little desert island. We’d had dreadful problems with noise and I couldn’t stand it any more. This was ground floor, no stairs, no noisy neighbours and we had a garden. We’d never had a garden in our whole married life. It was just pure bliss.” Housing association L&Q is now building 371 new homes on the site, which will be released in several phases. Six prefabs were listed by English Heritage and the prefab

The Excalibur was a great community, with street parties and neighbours looking after each other

church, St Mark’s, which is built on Church of England land, will remain. In 2002, photographer Elisabeth Blanchet started documenting the Excalibur Estate and other prefabs, as well as the people who lived in them. “The Excalibur was a great community,” she says. “Almost all the prefabs were well looked after and some residents participated in garden prizes. There were street parties and neighbours looking after each other.” Elisabeth has just published her second book on prefabs with journalist Sonia Zhuravlyova. Featuring 100 photographs, it recounts residents’ experiences, from the first time they laid eyes on their prefabs to their attempts to hold onto their homes as redevelopment threatened. Prefabs: A Social and Architectural History, by Elisabeth Blanchet and Sonia Zhuravlyova, is published by Historic England and costs £20


22 MU S I C

Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes has many fond memories of growing up in the borough of Lewisham

Shingai Shoniwa is the vocalist and bassist for indie rock band the Noisettes. We caught up with her as she launched her new solo album at the Albany in Deptford WORDS BY EMMA FINAMORE

f you ever went to an indie club night in the 2000s, the chances are you will know the Noisettes. The female-fronted infectious indie pop outfit found fame with their track Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go) and explosive live shows, touring with the likes of TV on the Radio, Tom Vek, Babyshambles, Bloc Party, Muse and Lady Gaga. At the band’s centre was its legendary frontwoman and bassist, Shingai Shoniwa, once described by Rolling Stone magazine as “a living, breathing manifestation of the rock and roll spirit”. Shingai has since embarked on a solo career and launched her new EP, Ancient Futures, with a show at the Albany in Deptford in September. The EP combines live instruments with melodies and rhythms inspired by her southern African heritage, creating effervescent soundscapes. But despite drawing on influences on an international scale, Shingai grew up locally – here in Lewisham – and even attended classes at the Albany as a child. “My fondest memories are the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park,

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which should probably be a best-kept secret but I’m willing to share. The Horniman museum is somewhere I really loved going and still go to now,” she adds, reflecting on her south-east London childhood, living in Brockley, New Cross, Catford and Forest Hill. “Also, falling off my bike and breaking my jaw in Hilly Fields park when I was 10, but I’ve still got love for that park. And the massive coloured house on Loampit Vale – I believe the guy who lived there [Mr Pink] passed away last year, he was a bit of a Lewisham legend.” Shingai used to attend the Albany’s summer scheme for kids, taking part in everything from circus skills and drama to art workshops, before going on to join the Second Wave youth arts programme, which she was involved with from the age of 11 to 18. “A typical week for me would be spending time at Midi Music [a music education and artist development charity based in Deptford] and Second Wave,” she recalls. “And then going swimming at Wavelengths if I had time. The Albany gave me a great space to express myself, learn new things and see shows at discounted rates. I really appreciated that a lot of the stuff they put on was affordable for the community. I saw some amazing shows there and it made me want to do more creative things. “I pretty much lived at the Albany for most of my teens, and then came back to volunteer there after I’d left the borough.”

She took the spirit of the borough with her when she left. Wozzy Brewster, founder and executive director at Midi Music, and Ann Considine, artistic and project director at Second Wave have both been “huge influences” on Shingai. She’s also still very much connected to the area through her work with Midi, and was honoured in the charity’s recently unveiled mural depicting inspiring artists from Lewisham, alongside Wayne Francis – a composer, producer and saxophonist in psychedelic-electronica afro-jazz quartet United Vibrations, and the founder of Steam Down, a south-east London music collective. “I still go to Buster Mantis to see Steam Down when I can,” says Shingai. “I try to support stuff at Second Wave when I can and I still also just hang out at my favourite places when I’m in town – Telegraph Hill, Brockley View and of course, the Horniman.”  Her roots are clearly important to her, and they stretch further than Forest Hill. Shingai’s heritage lies in Zimbabwe, and it’s become a major influence on her work. “On my musical journey over the last 10 years I realised that most of the music I love and most of the contemporary music that I enjoy can be traced back to the motherland,” she reflects. “Soul, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, modern pop, hip-hop, dance music, the list goes on. The syncopations and the melodies of those styles of music are much more celebrated on my new

record and I wanted it to say thank you to all the inspiring people who paved the way for me.” One of these people is her uncle – the politically outspoken and exiled Zimbabwean musician, Thomas Mapfumo. Known as the “Lion of Zimbabwe” and for his criticism of Robert Mugabe, he is celebrated in both Africa and internationally.  “He taught me a lot about the power of music and specifically the speciality of the guitarists in Africa, for example the Congolese guitarists,” Shingai explains. “There’s an edginess to some of the ways we express music in the southern African regions; people like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Thomas Mapfumo, they never make the same record.  “I wanted my debut EP to celebrate those under-sung heroes who have maybe been pushed into a world music corner that doesn’t represent the breadth of their music. I feel that their inspiration on modern musicians and bands can really be felt and should be celebrated.” She’s excited about UK music too, citing the nation’s hip-hop and grime scenes as being particularly on-point, as well as the recent jazz renaissance, “which south-east London is really smashing at the moment”. She’s looking forward to the future as well, and to sharing this new sound – and all her enthusiasm – with a modern, international audience. Connections to the future

Although I'm channelling ancient, powerful vibes, the production is very futuristic

are something she was thinking of while making the new EP, too. “My record is called Ancient Futures, a play on words, used to describe the stage I feel like I’m in as a musician,” Shingai explains. “Because although I’m channelling ancient, powerful vibes, the production is very futuristic, which makes it feel like it doesn’t fit into any current music category. I’m pioneering music into a new space as the way we listen to music is changing. I wanted my record to be at the vanguard of that music evolution.” The future also holds new avenues for Shingai, who’s just starred in her first feature film –shot in London and directed by the award-winning British-Nigerian director, Joseph A Adesunloye. The multi-narrative movie – set across four storylines that follow a group of characters as their lives begin to unravel – debuted at the 2018 Durban International Film Festival. But despite an international film career beckoning, Shingai still loves coming back to home turf and “being able to grab a bite from Honey’s Caribbean after sound check”. “I just love the view from the train coming in to New Cross – that skyline goes from old buildings to new buildings to warehouses to cranes. I also look forward to catching up on the local lingo and banter. When you travel a lot you really miss that.”


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ou might think that growing older inevitably means a smaller social circle and going to fewer places. But there’s a group of south London senior citizens keeping very busy, getting together regularly for activities in New Cross, as well as Bermondsey, Camberwell and Brixton. The Southwark Irish Pensioners Project (SIPP) has been a lifeline to hundreds of elderly, vulnerable and isolated Irish people in south London for the past 20 years, helping those who moved here in the 1950s and 60s to get the assistance they need. SIPP currently supports more than 400 pensioners, with services ranging from nutritious meals and befriending, to hospital visits and benefits and pensions advice. And, although it is open to non-Irish people too, SIPP is tailored to meet the needs of a community that moved here under a set of specific circumstances and faced a set of specific challenges. The charity explains: “Our pensioners emigrated to England at a time when racism towards Irish people was rife. Many learned to survive by not talking, as their accents betrayed their origins. They socialised in their own communities – churches, dance halls and pubs. They avoided authorities and many still mistrust statutory agencies.” A feeling of togetherness is therefore an important one to maintain, and the programme of regular activities and events helps to do this. Wednesdays mean bingo and lunch in New Cross and Brixton; on Thursdays the pensioners get together for tea, cake and a chat in Bermondsey; and on Fridays they play cards. Once a month there’s a tea dance in Camberwell – featuring traditional Irish music and Irish dancing, as well as tunes from the 1950s and 60s – and sometimes they do karaoke at SIPP’s headquarters in Bermondsey. They mark the milestones of the year together too, with Christmas dinner at Millwall football ground, Easter celebrations and a big St Patrick’s Day party, as well as day trips to Bermondsey Carnival, Rotherhithe Festival and the Lambeth Country Show. When I join the group at one of their regular meet-ups, Margaret, in her mid-70s, sits at one of the project’s bustling tables, surrounded by people chatting (and some knitting), slicing up homemade rhubarb pie and

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South London sociAL passing it around the group. She’s been coming to SIPP gatherings since she lost her husband five years ago, and it’s provided her with support ever since. “It gets me out of the house,” she says. “I like to get out or else I’ll get depressed – I lost my husband but then also my daughter a year ago, and my youngest daughter is now terminally ill at 47. So I get very depressed. If I stayed in I’d be crying, there’s too much time to think – but out of the house it’s better.” Opposite her is Bridget, whose daughter baked the rhubarb pie. She is fairly new to the group and has been coming along to SIPP get-togethers for just a few months. “I come for company, it can be really lonely at home,” she explains. “I’ve got good family though; one of my daughters comes up every day, but the others live out of London so I can’t see them as often. Loneliness is the worst.”

The Southwark Irish Pensioners Project organises weekly gatherings in New Cross for elderly Irish people in the community. Its members explain why the events are such a lifeline WORDS BY EMMA FINAMORE

PHOTOS BY JOE MAGOWAN

This is probably the most important service that the project provides: while the practical support with things like health and pensions is significant, keeping loneliness at bay and helping older people come together for friendship and laughter is vital. Currently, 70% of the pensioners accessing help via SIPP are over 75 years of age and nearly 60% of them live alone. According to research by the British Red Cross, more than nine million people in the UK – a seventh of the

Nearly 60% of the pensioners who access help through SIPP live alone, so the weekly meet-ups offer a vital chance to socialise

population – say they are always or often lonely and it disproportionately affects older people. There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, and half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all, according to a report published by Age UK. Aside from being an ethical matter, preventing loneliness is a public health issue too: research shows it is as bad for us as smoking and obesity, and increases our chances of suffering


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One member, Nora, did a charity parachute jump last year aged 88 from dementia, heart disease and depression. Loneliness is even likely to increase the risk of death by 29%. Thankfully organisations like SIPP are tackling this head on. “All the Irish people come from different parts of the country and talk about where they grew up; some have similar backgrounds. Like Dublin people all have a similar background – we were city people – and then there are the country people. You can tell by the different accents,” says Bridget, who left Dublin in 1946 when she was

just 18 “for the adventure” and went to Wales before pitching up in London to work with a friend at a Highbury hotel. She met her (Irish) husband in a cafe in Regent’s Park – “He always said he should have left me there!” she laughs. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Alf – who is turning 70 in a few days – is talking about a TV show he saw recently that revealed Coronation Street cast members’ family ancestry. One actor found out he had a lot of Irish heritage, and returned to the area of his family’s origin. “He met

two people,” says Alf, “one was the guy ferrying him across, and he turned out to be a relative, and the historian who interviewed him – and he turned out to be a relative!” Family history is important to many at SIPP. Alf’s father was from Belfast and his mother was from Rotherhithe, and despite never living on the island of Ireland, he feels a connection with the place and the people. “I’ve got lots of Irish friends and with the Belfast [link] – I know it’s Northern Ireland – I still consider

myself part Irish and I like mixing with people generally,” he explains. “And I do a bit of calling for the bingo too, so that’s my contribution.” Bridget is most enthusiastic about the project’s monthly tea dances – they seem to connect her to her youth. “It’s not all Irish music, it’s from the 1950s onwards,” she says. “All the songs you knew when you were younger. The music is great. We have sandwiches and cakes, but people are up and dancing too.” Talking about the St Patrick’s Day celebrations puts a smile on Margaret’s face – “The children all do the Irish dancing” – while someone behind her starts singing one of the old tunes. “And they give you a shamrock,” adds Bridget. “Most of the people here are from the country part of Ireland – they go in for all the Irish dancing and music, while Dublin people don’t really – but it gets me mixing with other people. And you can talk when sometimes young people don’t want to listen. I’m over 90 now and sometimes people just take it for granted that there is something wrong with you – but I can remember things that lots of people can’t.” Sharing things with others, good and bad, is important too, and it’s facilitated by gatherings organised by the project. Bridget says: “We can talk about families and tragedies, and all the ups and downs. We talk about grandchildren, and now our great grandchildren!” Relationships formed between members are now longstanding, and continue outside SIPP gatherings: pensioners will sometimes go for a bite to eat together after an activity or do a spot of shopping.   The organisation obviously helps keep people young, too. Margaret, Bridget and Alf talk about another member – Nora – who did a parachute jump for charity last year aged 88, and a bungee jump the year before that. “She’s a great woman,” says Margaret. The power of friendship should definitely not be underestimated.


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Lukeman Adesegun with Melissa and Venice Simpson in their New Cross restaurant

AND Lukeman Adesegun and Melissa and Venice Simpson opened After Hours in 2017 and it soon became a hotspot for soul food in New Cross. As they prepare to celebrate their first year in business, they explain how the power of good food and social media has earned them a loyal following WORDS BY ANVIKSHA PATEL

ith chicken shops and Caribbean restaurants scattered across southeast London, there are plenty of places to enjoy chicken and chips or jerk chicken. After Hours, however, is trying to bring something different to the table. Defining itself as a “new American soul food” establishment, the restaurant has proven popular with customers since it opened on New Cross Road in November last year. Its owners, Lukeman Adesegun, his partner Melissa Simpson and sister-in-law Venice Simpson all hail from Catford. I spoke to Lukeman and Melissa to find out more about the inspiration behind the restaurant. “In London, especially south-east, you don’t get to see American-type food, so we don’t do the typical curry goat and oxtail,” Melissa says. “We make beef ribs, buffalo wings, lamb

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chops and southern fried chicken. It’s exciting, it’s fresh, it’s new. It’s the flavours of the Caribbean with an American twist. That’s exactly what soul food is.” Finding the right location for After Hours was a happy coincidence. It all started with a call from Melissa’s father, who owns Cummin’ Up, a wellestablished Caribbean restaurant one door down from After Hours. Lukeman says: “My father-in-law rang me to say that next door was for sale. He has so many different shops and the place he was referring to was actually in Lewisham, but we thought he meant New Cross.” Melissa and Lukeman approached the owner of the New Cross unit, which was then a coffee shop, but they soon realised that he wasn’t selling and they’d got the wrong place. “It wasn’t till a week or two weeks later that he came back to us and said,

‘If you do want to buy, I’ll offer to sell it to you’,” Lukeman says. As the ink was drying on the paperwork, now they had bought the shop, they had to decide what to do with it. “Melissa and Venice grew up with food because of their dad,” Lukeman says. “They always had the experience of working in a restaurant and working with food. “The whole inspiration came from Cummin’ Up. When they had the opportunity to have their own shop, they took the experience they had and ran with it.” Although stateside cuisine is nothing new in London, Lukeman and Melissa spotted a gap in the market for a restaurant serving homemade southern food at late hours. “We wanted to combine it all in one. It’s a one-stop shop,” Melissa explains. “You can get desserts and

I met a woman who took a train down from Coventry just to get the buffalo wings

waffles. You can get your bagels like Bagel King, you can get milkshakes like McDonald’s, and Caribbean food mixed with soul food.” The streets of New Cross are an interesting place at night. With Goldsmiths students, clubgoers at Venue and pub locals, it made sense to the After Hours crew to provide an alternative to chicken shops for latenight revellers. However, it isn’t just the locals and other Londoners who are lapping up After Hours’ specialities. “I met a woman who took a train down from Coventry just to get buffalo wings,” Lukeman says. “Last week, a group of guys came all the way on the motorway from Luton. There’s a lot of people who come from far.” After Hours has also attracted the attention of well-known Camberwell funnyman Mo the Comedian. “Mo’s tour manager is my good friend so he said he would help us out with the shop,” Lukeman says. “He visited the day he came back from his tour and ever since then he’s been supporting us.” When Mo spotlighted the restaurant on social media with a video of him trying an After Hours freakshake, the chain reaction, both online and off, was monumental. “We have a special After Hours milkshake. That’s what Mo the Comedian posted on his social media, and that is what made a lot of people come in that week asking for the exact same milkshake,” Melissa explains. The special milkshake is in constant demand and consists of a Nutella peanut butter shake with a shot of maple syrup, topped with a honeycomb-glazed doughnut. Diners can substitute the Nutella for Oreos, Kit Kat, Kinder Bueno or Snickers if they prefer. The desserts as well as the milkshakes are aimed squarely at the sweet-toothed. However, true to the restaurant’s southern style, the buffalo wings and its add-ons such as mac and cheese and chicken fried rice are After Hours’ most popular dishes, in addition to the highly sought-after fried chicken and waffles. Diners can expect to pay more than in your average chicken shop, but on the plus side, there is a lot of variety to choose from. The restaurant offers more than 20 dessert options on its Deliveroo page, and that doesn’t even include the milkshakes. Additionally, every dish is made on location, which is quite a feat when you see the size of the place. Although After Hours is currently open till 2am, they are looking to obtain a 24-hour licence and a liquor licence. The ultimate goal, Lukeman tells me, is to open After Hours franchises across the whole of London. They’ve already had multiple offers to franchise, but Lukeman says they’re not in a hurry. In the meantime, they will continue to work on strengthening the brand and attaining their licences. “We want to be established first, before we even think of expanding. First we want to make sure that After Hours in New Cross is the place where everyone likes to get good food at whatever time.”


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ith the majority of Lewisham new-builds not meeting the council’s target of 50% affordable housing, perhaps it’s time for us to look into alternatives. Sanford is a 120-person housing cooperative nestled between two railway lines in New Cross – and those who live there are keen to let more local people know about the pioneering project. “You may think we’re strongly leftwing,” says resident of three years and development officer Leonie, “but as an organisation we are non-political. All we are doing is providing affordable homes for those who need them.” Sanford is the brainchild of writer and philosopher John Hands, who saw a need from young Londoners in the 1960s for reasonably priced, communal housing as they started out in one of the largest and most expensive cities in the world. He formed social campaign group Student Cooperative Dwellings (SCD) in 1968, with a vision to work together to create housing co-ops that would be operated on a basis of mutual aid rather than profit. The group lobbied parliament for five years while looking for a suitable plot of land. In 1973 the government agreed to pilot the Sanford housing project on a one-acre, former industrial site on Sanford Street in New Cross. SCD acquired the derelict site for £40,000, with half the funds borrowed from the Housing Corporation and half from the Commercial Union Insurance Company on a 40-year term. The cooperative opened in 1974 and the following year, SCD transferred collective ownership of the buildings to its members. As the decades passed, Sanford’s reach widened beyond the student community. Today there are residents in the cooperative aged from 22 to those in their 70s, and they are from many different walks of life. Inaugurated just three years after Copenhagen’s Christiania, Sanford is reminiscent of the Danish “freedom town”. It is self-governed, with residents fostering a different set of priorities to many outside of its gates. Each member has a tenancy agreement with the co-op, but unlike a traditional tenant/landlord set-up, the amount of rent is decided by the tenants. It is currently set at around £65 per week, including bills and council tax. What it allows Leonie is the “ability to do many other things besides work”. She says: “I can work for money only part of the week. The rest of the time I can spend on politics or work for the co-op.” A living arrangement like Leonie’s in a city as exorbitant as London may sound like an impossible ideal, but it’s “not just a hippy-dippy idea”, says another resident, Ben. “It’s working – and it has worked for over 40 years.” The scheme still stands as it did then: a leafy walkway links the 14 energy-efficient homes, which are each shared by between eight and 10 tenants. Each member has their own bedroom and shares a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms and an extra loo with the others in their house. Six selfcontained flats also sit to the south side for residents who prefer a little more privacy. When Sanford started in the 1970s, it was meant for the young and mobile,

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The Sanford housing cooperative in New Cross is the first purpose-built housing coop in the UK. Some of its residents give us an insight into life in the self-contained street

with the rationale being that if housing allowances were made for London’s students, it would help diminish competition for affordable housing so low-income families would be more likely to get the homes they required. It’s not a prerequisite that the co-op residents campaign for affordable housing in the borough, but enlightened by their Sanford lifestyle, many strive to spread the word about the benefits of cooperative living and fight for others to get the space they need at a price they can afford. Both Leonie and Ben lament the increasing lack of social housing in the area, explaining: “Planning obligations – such as the provision of affordable housing, contribution to local infrastructure and green spaces – seem to be just ‘annoying things’ to developers that get in the way of their business.” The financial viability assessment aspect of the planning process allows for developers to evidence the potential economic deficiency they would face if they were to meet the council’s target of 50% affordable housing. They are able to dodge this


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This page and opposite: the Sanford housing cooperative provides affordable accommodation in one of the world's most expensive cities landowner, with very little security or rights. “You’re constantly worrying that the rent will go up,” he says. In an age where private landlords are often able to charge more than £2,000 simply for a room deposit, both Ben and Leonie find the co-op to be a much more secure option. They refer to themselves as “new” to the project, since “there are some [who] have been living here since the beginning.” Once people arrive at Sanford, they stay for a while, sometimes for their whole lives. There are, however, vacancies arising all the time. People move on and, like every other process at Sanford, the recruitment of new residents is a thoroughly communal affair. The collective hold monthly meetings to discuss Sanford happenings and plans for the future. As Ben says, “every decision made is a properly democratic one. If people can’t resolve disputes themselves, or don’t want to, then it’s done through mediation.” Ben himself has held post as a mediator; Leonie says that “it’s really important to have someone there quota by demonstrating how it would not be economically viable for them to meet the target. As it stands, the average is 35%, with many new-builds having as little as 10 or 15% affordable housing. Leonie says: “In theory the council should represent and work in the interest of the people. But when developers with money come in, the council don’t even follow their own policies.” “The future of New Cross, or Deptford, or wherever,” says Ben, “should be defined by the people who live here. It shouldn’t be defined by a developer who’s out to make as much profit as possible.” The reality is that many Londoners are no longer able to bring up their families in the place they’ve lived all their lives. Communities from the local area are further split with each new development that doesn’t meet the council’s obligation. Ben discusses how the standard landlord/tenant relationship seems archaic after living in a cooperative setting. It is a descendant of feudalism, where the renter is at the mercy of the

If something breaks, we don't call the landlord, because we are the landlord

who’s impartial, who makes sure that everyone gets a chance to speak and is listened to.” All this practice is in keeping with John Hands’ original spirit of collectivism, whereby the group is prioritised over the individual. “It’s a totally different lifestyle to renting privately,” Ben and Leonie agree. They don’t self-identify as tenants at Sanford but instead as “tenantmembers”. Ben explains: “If everyone just paid their rent here monetarily and not with any input into the running of the co-op, the co-op would fall apart.” The potential roles within the co-op vary wildly: from chair to bin officer. It’s not mandatory involvement since with so many tenant-members, Sanford is able to run without everyone participating in an official capacity. Some people host dinners or have groups over for tea and that can be equally as valuable as say, resident Bob’s efforts to maintain the collective’s compost pile. OK, perhaps not, but there are many parts to be played and they require varying commitments. “Some jobs are really complex,” says Leonie, “and require background knowledge. For instance, maintenance. It’s a huge place.” The site includes an allotment with an organic vegetable garden, a pond, bike workshop and eco-heating system, all maintained by those residing in rooms nearby. This way, they are able to reduce unnecessary outgoings and do things their own way, including the growing of the cucamelon (a grape-sized vegetable which makes a great salad addition). Ben enjoys the responsibility of helping to run the operation. “There’s nothing to fall back on,” he says. “If something breaks, we don’t call the landlord, because we are the landlord.” Perhaps it is this investment in their environment that fosters an appreciation of the space they have. They are quite literally on ground level, constructing and maintaining everything they use themselves. Sanford is proof that we don’t have to cocoon ourselves in a Welsh valley to live in a spacious, low-carbon environment at a fair price. “It’s not just artists and musicians living here,” says Ben as he opens the door to the co-op’s function room. “People do all sorts.” The common factor is the desire to live in London, communally, and to have the time to discover what it is they are driven by, instead of obliged to do.


reative industries, communications and marketing guru Sanjit Chudha is a familiar face to many on the Telegraph Hill social and community circuit, having lived in the area for the past 20 years. For the last five of these, Sanjit has lent his relentless enthusiasm and impressive range of professional experience and expertise to the ever growing and popular Telegraph Hill Festival, first as a member of the organising committee, then as co-chair and sole chair. However, all good things must come to an end, and Sanjit is now handing over the reins of the festival to fellow resident India Lovett. The Lewisham Ledger managed to pin down the busy duo one afternoon last month and was keen to discover how Sanjit felt about stepping down. His response is somewhat surprising, albeit perhaps a touch tongue in cheek as befitting his wicked sense of humour. “I’m delighted!” he announces. “And I’m terrified!” India adds, as the duo dissolve into laughter. Given the rapport and warmth between them, it’s clear that the handover period from one chairperson to another will be a harmonious one. “I’m still involved in a small way I guess, because the festival is based in the community I live in,” Sanjit says. “But it’s true to say that India is very much the lead going forward. In terms of how that handover is working, we chose to take a year to do it, rather than me just saying to India, ‘Here’s a 50-page document, away you go!’ That would have been a bit unfair.

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As the Telegraph Hill Festival prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, we meet two of the driving forces behind the popular community and cultural event WORDS BY LUKE G WILLIAMS n PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE

“The fact I’m just a phone call or a text message away hopefully means things can move faster and it will be a more positive experience for the festival and the people putting it together. We’re working quite closely and we will do so for the rest of this year.” “Then hopefully I will be able to step fully into the breach!” India chips in. She is certainly stepping into large shoes. Since moving to Telegraph Hill in 1998, Sanjit has – it is fair to say – become part of the fabric of the area. He even recalls the precise date he moved to the leafy corner in Lewisham.

“Gosh, it was 20 years ago!” he recalls. “It was 1998, February 18. I remember it very vividly. I studied social policy at Goldsmiths, which is a potted hybrid of politics, philosophy, economics and sociology. “A year or so earlier there had been a transport strike and I thought, ‘Well I’m damned if I’m walking down the Old Kent Road to get back to Bermondsey’, which is where I lived at the time. I thought, ‘I know, I’ll take this sneaky back route.’ “I walked for ages all the way down Telegraph Hill and saw a house for sale on Pepys Road. I ended up buying the house and Bob’s your uncle. I was working in digital publishing at

Canary Wharf, so it was a great place to live in terms of transport links.” Two decades on, and Sanjit’s love affair with the area is undimmed. “In essence, compared to many places in London, it’s still quite an affordable place to live,” he argues. “Then there’s its proximity to central London. Those are important considerations. “There’s also a lot of creatives and very interesting people living in the area – a whole generation of creative people who work at the South Bank or in media in Covent Garden or Canary Wharf or other places, which you can get to really easily from Telegraph Hill. “Then there’s the Goldsmiths effect. There’s this incredibly young, vibrant,


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India Lovett and Sanjit Chudha – incoming and outgoing chairs of the Telegraph Hill Festival

creatively minded population here. I think the area thrives on the fact there is such a large student population and there has been for decades. “That mix of creative people working in town mixed with this young creative population means it’s the kind of area that has a lot going on constantly and that creates something really interesting and healthy.” Sanjit’s own career has seen him accrue a range of experiences within different creative contexts and organisations, from the Millennium Commission (“the grant-giving body for millennium projects, including what was then known as ‘that bloody dome!’”), to Telegraph Media Group, Tiscali and TalkTalk. At present he is head of marketing and communications for leading

black theatre company Talawa, which he describes as “a role where I am very much involved in engaging communities and putting on events”. It was in 2013 that Sanjit first became involved with the Telegraph Hill Festival. “I shadowed the then chair of the festival, a lady called Vanessa Lloyd,” he explains. “When she stepped down in 2014, myself and another colleague, Maeve McAnallen, co-chaired the festival for one year. “Maeve couldn’t carry on because of life and work commitments, I carried on and now as you’re speaking to me I’m pretty much at the end of my term.” Prior to 1994, the Telegraph Hill Festival was a somewhat informal weekend, park-based event. Now, 25

years later, it is a formidable logistical undertaking, involving a dizzying range of events, workshops and performances, mostly themed around the creative arts – from art and crafts to comedy, spoken word, theatre, music, literature, film and more. “It’s very much community led,” is how Sanjit characterises it. “It’s also entirely voluntary in its set-up and operation,” he adds. “No one involved with the festival is paid. That’s one of its great strengths. It’s up to the community to come up with ideas, events, happenings, workshops, whatever. Our role as an organising committee is essentially to enable that. “However, the festival couldn’t function without the incredible assistance we get from St Catherine’s Church, the parish church in

There's an incredibly young, vibrant and creative population in Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill, and the Telegraph Hill Centre. They are our two biggest venues and they charge us nothing to stage the festival.” One of the annual highlights of the festival is the opening event, a community theatre production, with West Side Story the most recent offering. “It’s usually a musical and very much on a large scale, typically performed to an astonishingly high standard,” Sanjit enthuses. “In 2018, there were 250 participants involved. Those taking part tend to range in age from about four to 84, so it really covers a wide spread of ages and backgrounds. “Meanwhile, in the festival as a whole, there is an enormous spread of events, from really large scale to smaller events that are still very meaningful for the people involved.” The growth of the festival in recent years has been striking. “It feels like it gets bigger every year and it certainly does in terms of the number of people who engage with it or take part in some way, shape or form,” Sanjit says. “In 2005, just over 2,000 people engaged with the festival – meaning they bought a ticket for an event or they turned up to a free event. “In 2018 that number had gone up to well over 6,000, which is a phenomenal growth. That’s a reflection of the fact that the population has grown in the area over that time, but it’s also a reflection of the way in which we are reaching deeper into the community and engaging as many people as we possibly can.” This community-led and focused ethos is something which India is determined to maintain as she assumes the chair for the festival’s 25th anniversary outing next year, from March 30 to April 14. “We want to continue to reach out and make the festival relevant for all, and make sure that we respond to the needs of the whole community,” she says. “We are constantly speaking to people, asking them what they would like. We collect extensive feedback to see what people’s responses are to the festival. We have a constant desire to stay relevant and be diverse in our offering.” To these ends, India’s range of experience working in and with local communities – for a film charity and a restorative justice organisation as well as, for the last three years, homelessness charity Crisis – has served as ideal preparation for her stewardship of the festival. “I’m a bit of a newbie because I only moved to Lewisham two years ago,” she says. “Learning about the festival I thought it was phenomenal and absolutely fantastic that the community was doing something like this. Immediately l wanted to get involved. “I also love the journey the festival has been on. It’s a wonderful thing that there are so many people that contribute year on year. I want that to continue but I’m also aware that we have to continue to reach out.” For more on the festival, visit telegraphhillfestival.org.uk and register your proposal for the 2019 festival at tinyurl.com/thfestival2019


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ith a varied and widereaching range of events and activities to cater for the most eclectic of tastes, the Telegraph Hill Centre is the envy of many a London borough. From Boppin’ Bunnies to Pilates fans, the centre is open to anyone and everyone. This autumn promises to be a bumper one, with two new regular events added to the timetable. Firstly, music producer Marc JB will be running a conscious clubbing night, which will take place monthly starting in October. Marc was part of the production team behind midnoughties hit Thunder in My Heart Again, which featured 70s pop icon Leo Sayer. The night is basically clubbing without alcohol or drugs and is open to all ages. Then there’s 12Steppin – a dance, movement and meditation event where you’re encouraged to “bring your feelings and emotions out on the dancefloor and let go.” The centre is also the hub for the now famous Telegraph Hill Festival, which next year celebrates its 25th anniversary. A partnership with the local church, St Catherine’s, the Telegraph Hill Centre is funded mainly through the rental income it receives from the clubs and lettings that convene on the ground floor. It also receives £30,000 per annum from the Community Mission Fund that comes from the church. Sue Morgan is the centre manager and has been in the post for around 14 months. Originally from Australia, she is a former journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald. Since moving to the UK she has immersed herself in southeast London life and particularly in the centre. “The centre and church are very much working in partnership to make sure we continue to be a welcoming and responsive hub for the local community,” Sue says. “We have facilities used by a range of hirers – from yoga to street dancing for children – and this allows us to develop community projects. “For example we have just announced a joint initiative that starts later this month – free English classes and a friendship group for women. With funding we are able to offer this and it is particularly aimed at refugees and asylum seekers. From October we are holding a grief resolution pilot programme for those affected by violence and loss. These will be free for those attending.” One of the centre’s biggest success stories is Branching Out – a programme primarily aimed towards older people who may feel lonely or isolated, although everyone is welcome. Originally held on a Thursday, it has since expanded to include Mondays too. It offers a chance for people to get out of the house, enjoy a good chat and make new friends through activities including art classes, board games and tai chi. Recent additions to the programme include a knitting and crochet class and a session on mindfulness. Branching Out has benefited from council funding, as well as corporate volunteers from Aviva and Bank of America. “As part of Branching Out the centre has been running art classes for

Telegraph Hill Centre manager Sue Morgan stands outside the much-loved spot

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A SPACE FOR IDEAS WORDS BY SEAMUS HASSON

PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE

The Telegraph Hill Centre offers an array of activities, from conscious clubbing to crochet. Manager Sue Morgan explains how there's truly something for everyone

The centre will continue to be a welcoming and responsive hub for the community about four years,” Sue says. “This year was their first ever public showing at an exhibition and it was just amazing.” The exhibition showcased a selection of the art group members’ best work over the last few years and was held in the gallery at Goldsmiths in New Cross. “A lot of people from the Telegraph Hill Centre came down to support them and have a look,” Sue says. “We had an amazing response and the nicest thing was how the group responded to it. Branching Out is for older people but it’s also for people who are isolated. “We have people with brain injuries and people who have had strokes – people who for one reason or another are unable to get out and about as much as they would like. “We had a comments book [at the exhibition] and we had lovely comments from passersby and people who came down to have a look at their work and I think they surprised themselves.” For one elderly gentleman in particular, the exhibition presented an opportunity to reveal a hidden talent from a past life. “He does watercolours and they were very good for what you would expect from a 92-year-old man,” Sue says. “When we asked them [the members] to bring forward their best work, he brought along some unbelievable watercolour paintings that he had done as a younger man and they were absolutely stunning.” The gentleman in question is a former navy man who in more recent times has suffered from Alzheimer’s. The quality of his work was moving to all those present. “People were absolutely stunned at what he had been able to do and the talent that he had,” Sue says. “They were asking who painted them and he was so thrilled. It gave an insight into the man he was in his younger days. They are his absolute prize possessions and it was quite an honour for him to show them.”

Another incredibly worthwhile initiative that the centre ran recently was the Love Grub Summer Club. A joint venture between St Catherine’s church, the Children’s Creative Community (CCC) Club and BeBright, it provided hot meals over the summer for families who would normally rely on school meals. “Over time, the number of families using it grew and by the end of it there was almost a community party feel,” Sue says. “Ongoing relationships were formed through having families here and the kids enjoyed playing in the garden. It was a really nice thing for us to be able to do.” In addition to some of the more fun activities that take place at the Telegraph Hill Centre, it also provides space for people dealing with more serious issues. Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous hold meetings at the centre and there is also a group called the Today Project, which aims to help people with depression. As well as renting out spaces to various groups, the centre also donates its facilities for free to community forums. Recent examples include a meeting on local crime and a free professional training session on LGBTQI+ domestic violence and abuse for professionals in and around Lewisham. The centre is unquestionably a vital resource that benefits the local community both in terms of entertainment and in providing essential services. Sue says that the success of the initiatives they have run is “all due to this confluence of the centre and St Catherine’s church”. She adds: “That’s how I hope the local community views us here up on the top of the hill – two parts forming a stronger whole, flowing out into the community. “Having been here a full year, you can see how the community really does need the space and we really value the community. It’s a great place to work.”


34 PR O M OT I ON AL F E AT U R E

A celebration of self-discovery and individual spirit

St Dunstan’s College Sixth Form

he sixth form at St Dunstan’s College represents the pinnacle of a pupil’s time at the College; as such, it is a celebration of self-discovery and individual spirit, as well as rigorous preparation for exciting future journeys. Students at the sixth form undertake the St Dunstan’s Diploma programme, which is the ideal platform to support this culture, laying the foundations to support young people in whichever direction life takes them. Critical thinking, leadership and independent scholarship and the ability to make informed choices are all at the core of what the College seeks to achieve within its sixth form offering. The St Dunstan’s Diploma is the defining aspect of sixth form life. All students embark on this exciting programme designed to inspire, challenge and assist them to fulfil unique ambitions and potential. The programme allows the College to support the pursuit of a vast range

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of students’ interests and goals, both within and in addition to the academic curriculum. The Diploma requires students to choose from each of the following themes: • A Levels • Co-curricular activities • Elective courses Within these overarching themes, there are almost innumerable combinations of choices for students to select. Alongside the academic A Levels, co-curricular activities range from completing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, to community service and gaining qualifications in mental health. Elective courses complete the St Dunstan’s Diploma and allow pupils to deepen their studies. In the first term of year 12, students study the Cambridge International Global Perspective Pre-U Short Course, which helps support students to adjust to A Level study. The content of the course helps develop awareness of global current affairs including foreign policy and

I gained lifelong friendships at St Dunstan's, as well as an understanding of the value of being part of a close community Sixth form pupil Ellie John


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St Dunstan's is the top performing sixth form in Lewisham. In 2018, 84% of grades earned were A*-B

medical ethics. Students can also choose from a variety of courses including Massive Open Online Courses, which are online courses delivered by popular universities such as UCL and the University of Edinburgh, and practical courses such as driving, personal finance and first aid. The Diploma is celebrated at the end of the year with a celebration of the achievements of year 13 students, who are awarded the Diploma in recognition of their achievements, to which parents are invited. “The College gave me the opportunity to develop independently, with the support of teachers who invested in me and my aspirations,” explains Hatti, who recently left to study Theology and Religion at the University of Cambridge. “The warm and accepting environment is something that I look back on with fondness and I am grateful for the time I spent there.” During their time in the sixth form, students are supported by a range of staff including the sixth form

leadership team and sixth form tutors. The sixth form office has an open door policy and there are always people available to listen to students and support their concerns. This term, St Dunstan’s opens its new Pupil Wellness Centre, which is a unique feature in south-east London schools. The new centre will be the hub for student well-being at the College. Students will benefit from a range of support including a qualified on-site nurse, a chaplain and a comprehensive counselling service, offering both formal and informal sessions. Additionally, St Dunstan’s has an in-house Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and therefore many of the staff – both teaching and nonteaching – and students are qualified to deliver Mental Health First Aid. Alongside the Wellness Centre, sixth form pupils benefit from a range of world class facilities. The Learning Resource Centre is the hub of students’ independent learning and encourages students to delve deeper into subjects far beyond the curriculum and to look towards undergraduate level learning. The Learning Resource Centre also includes a resource room and flexible study area, which also serves as a lecture hall for invited speakers. The sixth form also has a large dedicated common room situated in a quiet section of the College, complete with study and social spaces, games tables and a kitchen area. Many of the students speak of the warm community spirit at the College. Oskar, year 13, explains: “I continued my studies at St Dunstan’s sixth form because of the community. I made so many friends and was taught by so many great teachers, I couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else.” To find out more about St Dunstan's College Sixth Form, book a place at the upcoming open evening on Wednesday 10 October, 6.30pm8.30pm. Prospective students will be able to hear from the head, tour the facilities and speak directly to current students about life at St Dunstan’s. Guests will also be able to find out more about scholarships and bursaries. Bookings can be made at www.stdunstans.org.uk


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The Celia Hammond Animal Trust gives a new dawn, a new day and a new life to dozens of cats every week. Rescue and rehoming manager Lesley Mills tells us more about the charity’s invaluable work

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Felinegood ehind the unremarkable exterior of 233-235 Lewisham Way lies an incredible hive of activity; a cat rescue centre named after its founder, Celia Hammond, a former model who once graced the covers of Vogue but gave it all up to devote her life to animals. In the 1960s, Celia was travelling the world, hanging out with the stars of the day and wearing the finest clothes – including those made from animal fur. That was until she saw some distressing TV footage of a Canadian seal cull and was shocked by its barbaric cruelty. She used her fame as a platform to raise awareness, and was thrilled with the outcome. As it turned out, this was just the beginning of her journey in animal welfare. She became involved in rescuing, neutering and rehoming stray cats (and sometimes dogs) after a chance encounter with a cat trapped in a derelict building. The Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT) was founded in 1986 and operates sites in Lewisham and Canning Town, as well as a sanctuary near Hastings. The original Lewisham branch opened in 1995, and its rescue and rehoming manager Lesley Mills has been around for much of its life. When we meet, the branch has about 180 cats in residence, all of them either feral, abandoned, mistreated, or unfortunate enough to need attention from the dedicated team of vets and other staff who work tirelessly, seven days a week, to ensure the animals have a decent, or better than decent, quality of life.

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Above: Lesley Mills with some of her team. Below and right: cats hoping to be rehomed

I ask Lesley why there are so many cats that are in need of new homes and she says: “Yesterday I had a call from Southwark Council – a cat was locked in a building because the owner had moved out and left the cat behind. That’s quite normal. Very common. “The other thing we see a lot of is people not being able to rehome their kittens, so they dump mum and the kittens in a box, in dustbins, chutes, corridors, absolutely anywhere. It’s horrendous because we cannot keep up with it. We are getting calls all day long. It just never ever stops. “Also at certain times of year we’re dealing with dozens and dozens of pregnant cats on the street. We have to get them off the street before they have their kittens, because once they’re

born, they’ll be feral kittens growing up. If they do make it to adulthood, they begin breeding and the problem continues.” I find it shocking (if, sadly, not surprising) that people treat animals this way, and ask Lesley what the solution is. “The answer is to get the message out there that people need to neuter,” she says. “A lot of people phone us to say, ‘A cat has had kittens under my shed’, but they need to phone us when the cat first appears. “They don’t, they wait, they think it might be someone’s cat but it doesn’t matter – we need to pick the cat up and get it to a place of safety. We can soon make enquiries as to whether or not the cat is owned. “The only way to stop this is for people to neuter their cats and these days there are enough services available where you can get your neutering done free of charge. “We offer a collection service if someone can’t come in and we will help with dogs as well, not just cats. We try and concentrate more on the female animals because they’re the ones that will give birth and that is the only way we will ever get on top of this problem.” Unneutered male cats are also problematic though, as Lesley explains: “Unneutered males will get into fights constantly and can end up with injuries that can get infected. “There’s also a thing called FIV [Feline Immunodeficiency Virus], which is passed on by mating and fighting, but neuter your cat and he won’t do either. They’re only fighting out of survival and territorial issues, and we see some cats with the most horrific abscesses. The problem is that cats’ teeth are so tiny, the bite closes

up, which keeps the bacteria inside.” CHAT is one of the only charities in the country to carry out a huge amount of trapping and neutering – a process called TNR, or Trap, Neuter and Return. To date the centres have neutered more than 130,000 animals. This allows feral cats to return to a back garden or another safe spot and live their lives in the best possible way, as they cannot be rehomed. Lesley says: “As long as there is somebody who will feed the cats, we can just let them be. “Feral cats are mostly cats that have been slung out, they’ve been abandoned and the only way they can survive is to be very savvy; they have to be guarded with people. “It’s humans who cause this problem and it’s often humans who are very unkind to them, so they need to learn to survive. We stop the breeding, we health-check them, give them flea treatment and a wormer.


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Left: Lesley with a recent resident of Celia Hammond, who has now found a new home

“Then they’re neutered and after so many days in here they’re re-released back to where they came from, so they end up living a hopefully reasonably happy life without breeding. While they’re outside they are very effective rodent patrols, keeping the mice and rats down.” There are some sad stories behind the furry residents at the Lewisham centre. “We had some cats come in recently because a woman had sadly passed away in her flat and she had 17 cats who were not handleable, they’d not ever been outdoors,” Lesley says. The staff at CHAT have become almost like social workers, navigating complex social problems to ensure the safety of the animals. “I don’t think people have any idea about the scale of the problem,” Lesley says. “There’s a lot of negotiation, housing problems, mental health problems and all these different situations.”

People dump cats in boxes, bins, chutes, corridors, anywhere. It's horrendous

As we walk around the centre, she shows me a cat with beautiful eyes like saucers. “She was a stray that had been neutered by another charity, but then the occupant couldn’t keep her and the other charity wouldn’t take her back. We always take responsibility if it’s a cat that we’ve neutered and returned. We have lifelong responsibility for that cat.” Lesley believes that education plays a big part in preventing cruelty and neglect. “I would love to go into schools and educate kids but we haven’t got the time,” she says. “It would be nice if some of the bigger charities went into schools and spoke about animal welfare. “People need to understand that it’s not acceptable to let your cat breed all the time; it’s not acceptable to sell your kittens on Gumtree. I think websites that sell animals should be shut down. “People need to understand that cats are not a commodity. They are living little things. Don’t put them in a cardboard box because anything could happen – someone who doesn’t like animals might find them, someone who wants to fight their dog might find them. “The other thing we need is goodquality homes. I think people are being slightly more fussy nowadays. Years ago people would walk into a rescue centre and say, ‘I’ll have the little nervous one at the back.’ Now they’re more particular.” CHAT is also constantly in need of donations and volunteers. “We are reliant on donations, cat food, anything,” Lesley says. “Money can be donated and we are always very grateful for donations, legacies, bedding and food. “We are always on the lookout for washing machines and tumble dryers, which we go through at a rate of knots. We survive entirely on donations and we’re not one of the bigger, wealthier charities.” She describes how she and her staff would “walk on water for Celia”, but Lesley herself is an inspiration, another example of a person who has dedicated her life to animals, picking up the pieces that others have left behind. I ask her how she got the job and she says: “I’ve always loved Celia – this is the best charity in the world as far as I’m concerned and I really do mean that. “I’ve always worked in rescue; my mum was in rescue and it seemed like a natural progression. It’s always been my forte. I love this place, I really am passionate about it.” Does she ever take the job home? “Oh yes, I do a lot of the fostering myself, especially the ferals as it’s quite specialist.” How many cats does she actually have? She laughs. “Oh, 14... honestly, it’s easily done!” To donate to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust, attend an open day, rehome a cat or become a volunteer, visit celiahammond.org


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SOMETHING TO EAT Roasted squash and chickpeas with labneh and zhoug An Israeli street food staple, zhoug is a fresh and fiery paste that’s packed with flavour

5 Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, toss the chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon cumin, ½ teaspoon salt and then transfer to a lined baking tray. Add to the oven below the chickpeas and roast for 25-30 minutes till crispy and golden. Remove and leave to cool.

Method 1 A day or two before you want to eat the dish, you will need to make your labneh. Mix together the yoghurt with ½ teaspoon salt. Place some cheesecloth (double or triple lined) over a deep bowl or jar and pour in the yoghurt. You could even use a clean tea towel or a pair of tights. 2 Either secure the cheesecloth to the jar itself with an elastic band, or secure like a ponytail with a band or piece of string and weave a wooden spoon

CROSSWORD NO. 3 ACROSS

DOWN

7 AILLLLMW (anagram) (8) 9 ABFLLOOT (anagram) (8) 10 BCLU (anagram) (4) 11 Atmosphere (3) 12 Strong coffee (8) 13 Alcoholic (8) 17 Go backwards (7) 21 Health resort (3) 22 Demo (7) 25 Bachelor's counterpart (8) 28 Hopeful person (8) 30 Tear (3) 31 Con, fool (4) 32 Lessen, soften (8) 33 Group of listeners (8)

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SOLUTION

the oven for 30-40 minutes until tender and slightly charred round the edges. Remove and leave to cool.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course or 6-8 as a side dish) 1kg Greek yoghurt 1 large butternut squash, cubed, peel on if you like 2 400g cans of chickpeas, drained 1 tablespoon cumin 1 170g jar zhoug paste (I like the one by Belazu or you can make it yourself) 1 lemon Extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt and black pepper Fresh coriander for garnish

6 The zhoug is quite a thick paste, so to use it as a dressing simply transfer it to a small mixing bowl and stir through a little extra olive oil and lemon juice till you get the consistency you desire.

through the band. Hang the spoon over the top of the jar so the bottom of the cheesecloth doesn’t touch the bowl cavity.

3 Place in the fridge and leave for 12-24 hours, by which point the whey will have dripped out and you will be left with a

creamy ball of cheese. Scoop out the yoghurt cheese ready to use. 4 Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). In a

A lewisham LOCAL STEVE HARLEY

BY ALDHELM

7 Across, 9 Across and 10 Across is a famous former resident of New Cross. 1

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medium bowl, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and transfer to a lined baking tray. Roast in

7 To plate up, spread the labneh in a thick layer over a large serving dish, then scatter over the cubes of squash and crispy chickpeas. Drizzle over the zhoug and finish with some lemon zest, fresh coriander and some slices of lemon for brightness. Eat straight away.

Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley was born in 1951 in Deptford and grew up in New Cross Gate. His dad was a milkman and his mum a jazz singer. Harley was a pupil at Edmund Waller Primary School followed by Haberdashers' Aske's. He went on to train as a reporter with Essex County Newspapers. He formed Cockney Rebel in 1972 and the band's biggest hit, Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) topped the UK charts in 1975. Harley began a solo career and was cast as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The

ILLUSTRATION BY PETER RHODES

I am a trained natural chef, so my focus is on cooking healthy food. I put fresh, seasonal produce at the centre of most of my dishes, and let the rest take care of itself. It’s with this ethos that my company Natural Kitchen Adventures was formed. The business encompasses a blog, retreat chef services and the seasonal suppers – a quarterly supper club series. I also work as a cookery tutor. Most of my seasonal vegetables come from the Lee Greens veg scheme and Brockley and Borough markets. I cook, style and shoot most of my recipes in my tiny kitchen in New Cross, where I have lived for six years. Here is one of my favourite autumnal dishes, taken from my iPhone recipe app Natural Kitchen Adventures. It’s made with zhoug, a herby, blended paste containing coriander, cloves, parsley and green chilli that is often found in Israeli street food dishes. It adds a bold kick and tonnes of flavour to dressings and marinades.

WORDS BY CERI JONES

Phantom of the Opera. His version of the title track reached the Top 10 and he spent five months working on the part, only to be replaced by Michael Crawford. Today he lives in Essex and still performs with Cockney Rebel.

ACROSS: 7 Millwall, 9 Football, 10 Club, 11 Air, 12 Espresso, 13 Drunkard, 17 Regress, 21 Spa, 22 Protest, 25 Spinster, 28 Optimist, 30 Rip, 31 Dupe, 32 Mitigate, 33 Audience. DOWN: 1 Pillar, 2 Slab, 3 Canada, 4 Alfred, 5 Whoopie, 6 Enlists, 8 Able, 13 Damp, 14 Undo, 15 Kite, 16 Rest, 17 Rasp, 18 Grin, 19 Exit, 20 Sour, 23 Replica, 24 Spinach, 25 Stream, 26 Impede, 27 Expect, 29 Iris, 31 Deed.


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Issue 3 of The Lewisham Ledger  

Issue 3 of The Lewisham Ledger  

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