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.
30 N EW C ROS S & T E L EG R A PH H I L L SPECI A L
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,