Choose the next image for the W4th Plinth

The W4th Plinth art space was launched by Abundance London in September 2019, taking its name from the Trafalgar Square 4th plinth of rotating artworks. Sir Peter Blake’s collage of the Chiswick Empire music hall theatre has occupied the space on the wall of the railway at Turnham Green Terrace thus far. Now it’s time for the next piece of art to take its place. A panel led by Sir Peter Blake has selected a shortlist of four, and it is now down to you to choose its successor.

Karen Liebreich of Abundance London writes:

‘While Sir Peter Blake’s Chiswick Empire Theatre held the stage magnificently for the first six months, we welcomed submissions for the next artwork. We had 31 entries, of very high quality, and it was a difficult decision. A panel led by Sir Peter Blake selected the shortlist of four, and these are now subject to public vote to decide which one will be installed for the next six months on the wall overlooking the piazza at Turnham Green Terrace.

Voting opened on 19 January and closes at midnight on the last day of February. The winning entry will be installed in March. We are now inviting submissions for the next work, to be installed in September.’

Abundance London will pay for the printing and installation.

Shortlisted works

Images above: Penny the Orangutan by David Kimpton; Chiswick House Dog Show by the late Alfred Daniels

David Kimpton: Penny the Orangutan

Indonesian rainforests are being cleared to create palm oil plantations. Our artwork was created to raise funds for the Sumatran Orangutan Society, whose message is ‘every penny counts’ in the fight to save the endangered animals and their environment.

Alfred Daniels: Chiswick House Dog Show

In 2014 Danny (the late Alfred Daniels) was asked to design a poster for the Chiswick House Dog Show. He enthusiastically agreed but had never used dogs as subjects before and needed some photos. Jan Preece, Chair of the Show committee, gave him a selection and from these Danny put together this painting.

Images above: Oh Vincent! by Flor Ferraco; We are all Characters by Suzan Inceer

Flor Ferraco: Oh Vincent!

“Vincent screams freedom, movement and hope. What your eyes can feel is what I want you to receive. As he said, ‘What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything…”

Suzan Inceer: We are all Characters

“It’s a London sofa, a London street, the Thames at the top left. There is an audience, but it’s unclear – who is the entertainment? Are they communicating? Being understood? Or are they/we just shouting in a language known to no one else? I, for one, am curious.”

Which one will you vote for?

To vote (or submit a new artwork), visit

The Chiswick Calendar – Sipsmith Community Activism awards

Thanks to all those who came to our party last week in the Boston Room at George IV, celebrating five years of The Chiswick Calendar.

The Chiswick Calendar is a Community Interest Company. We provide daily events listings of all that’s happening in the Chsiwick area, the Club Card scheme to enable local businesses to offer deals and discounts to local residents, the weekly newsletter and the events we put on – the monthly Jazz at George IV and our Media Club. We’ve recently relaunched this website and it’s now how we want it to be, fast, reliable and easy to find your way round, thanks to web developer Dawn Wilson, software engineer James Willcocks and our main content producer Alice Gilkes.

We would be able to do none of this without the support of our sponsors John D Wood & Co, who have backed us almost since the beginning, and Asahi, who took over the sponsorship when they took over the Griffin brewery from Fuller’s. Also our partners the Hogarth Club, ArtsEd and Chiswick Auctions.

Ruth Cadbury was not able to come to the party but sent us this lovely message:

“Congratulations Bridget on the amazing work you’ve done through Chiswick Calendar and its offshoots, to bring people in Chiswick together in a way that is both imaginative and productive.  Chiswick is a richer place because of Chiswick Calendar and I thank you.”

Thanks also to Sipsmith, who provided bottles of London Dry Gin for the winners of our Community Activism Awards, and to Fiona at the Bell & Crown at Strand on the Green, who provided a voucher for lunch for two for one of our winners who doesn’t drink alcohol.

Who were the ten winners and what had they done to deserve their award? Some have worked hard to provide lovely cultural activities we all enjoy; some have got stuck in to physical labour to improve our environment, or gone out of their way to help people. Others have literally risked life and limb to rescue people.

2020 Chiswick Calendar – Sipsmith Community Activism Award winners

Image above: Left Julian Worricker; centre Andrea Carnevali; right Bridget Osborne; photograph by Jon Perry

Andrea Carnevali – Chiswick Oasis

Three years ago St Mary’s RC School in Chiswick discovered it was on the list of the 50 most polluted schools in London, because of its position next to the A4. In those three years Andrea Carnevali has gone from knowing next to nothing about air pollution or fund raising to becoming the fount of all knowledge on both. As a result, having raised more than £100,000, last summer the Mayor of London opened the Chiswick Oasis, the ‘green wall’ along the side of the playground, with some 12,000 plants intended to mitigate the worst effects of air pollution inside the school grounds. Andrea is looking to share his new-found expertise with any other schools who would like to do something similar.

Images above: Paul Hyman; Joanna Brendon

Paul Hyman – In The Drink

Sir David Attenborough has been in the news again this past week saying we have reached the ‘moment of crisis’ with climate change. It was his series Blue Planet which made many of us aware of the extent of the problem of plastic waste in the oceans, with those images of a sperm whale trying to eat a plastic bucket. Paul Hyman, who runs the Active 360 paddleboarding outfit at Kew Bridge, has been an environmental activist for many years and has been instrumental in setting up the In the Drink campaign, to stop single use plastic being used, especially near rivers. He organises regular clear-ups of canals in London and our bit of the River Thames by paddleboard, and has recently been talking to the organisers of the Boat Race to see what can be done to stop the monumental amount of rubbish which ends up in the river every year.

Joanna Brendon – Artists At Home

Artists At Home has been running in Chiswick for nearly 50 years. Arguably it was the first Open Studios in the country. Every year artists open their homes and studios over one weekend in June and we are all invited to wander round and have a look at their work. They now have about 80 artists in 60 or so locations in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush. Joanna Brendon has been involved in Artists At Home for many years. She used to run it. They she looked after its promotion – which is how I got to know her. She stepped down from the Artists At Home committee, but has been made an honorary member for all her years of service to promoting artists in west London.

Images above: Denny Anthony receiving his award; to see his face you will find him on the very far left of the crowd scene!

Denny Anthony – Hogarth Youth Centre

The Hogarth Youth Centre at the end of Duke’s Rd has been a life saver for the generations of kids and parents who have used it over the past 40 years or so. They provide after school and school holiday activities while hard pressed parents are working. Chiswick has pockets of poverty which go unnoticed in the general description of the leafy suburb being such a great place to live. It’s not so great if you have no money. I went to a fundraiser at the Hogarth Centre recently, because it is no longer council funded and now has to stand on its own two feet financially. A string of parents stood up and made statements about how grateful they were to the centre’s lead youth worker Denny Anthony for his support and guidance, that had made and continues to make a real, material difference to their lives.

Images above: Donna Schoenherr; Jan Preece

Donna Schoenherr – Move Into Wellbeing

Donna Schoenherr settled in Chiswick some 20 years ago, from New York, where she’d been a professional ballet dancer, touring the world with several different dance companies. She set up Ballet4Life which offers dance classes for adults, and Move Into Wellbeing which specifically offers dance and movement classes for people with restricted movement. She was nominated in last year’s One Dance UK for Inspirational Work in Education and as an Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner.

Jan Preece – Chiswick House Dog Show

The Dog Show at Chiswick House is a fantastic event. Hundreds, if not thousands of dogs descend on the Cricket pitch every September and it’s become the biggest dog show in London. Every year they have prizes for all sorts of daft canine achievements. There’s a  fancy dress theme for dogs and owners and celebrity judges. Jan Preece chairs the committee that runs it. So thank you to Jan for just providing a free fun day out.

City Harvest

City Harvest London is a charity which takes surplus food from restaurants and supermarkets and distributes it to organisations around London which feed the hungry. They’re actually based in Acton but they do work in Chiswick. Unfortunately they couldn’t be at the party to pick up their award. They’re about to start a series of supper clubs, about which there will be more details in The Chiswick Calendar newsletter.

Images above: Cllr Ron Mushiso; Geraldine King

Ron Mushiso – Litter picking

Being a local councilor can be a thankless task. Hours of tedious meetings. Reams of documents to read through. People moaning at you. Ron Mushiso does all that, has a full-time job as a teacher and still finds time to organise litter picking sessions.

Geraldine King – Chiswick House & Gardens Trust

Geraldine King is the head gardener at Chiswick House. She could say that thousands of people and dogs traipsing through her precious gardens was unthinkable. But instead she seems to embrace the challenge and manages to keep the gardens looking fantastic all year round, despite the fact that it’s a favourite place for people to walk and for children to play. For the past few years they’ve won a host of awards in London in Bloom, including Heritage Park of the year, best Walled Garden and the People’s Choice. She does it all with an army of volunteers, but she’s the brains of the operation.


There’s been a lifeboat station at Chiswick Pier since 2002. It quite quickly became the second busiest station in the whole of the UK and Ireland, second only to Tower Bridge. In the time they’ve been running they’ve carried out more than 3,600 rescues and rescued over 1,750 people. Last year was the busiest since 2004, with 235 call-outs. The Chiswick station has nine staff and the rest of its crew members are all volunteers. The RNLI is funded entirely by its own fundraising.

Wayne Bellamy, who originally worked on lifeboats in Vancouver, is the station manager. Andy Mayo was originally a volunteer on the Dover lifeboat and joined the Chiswick crew in 2003. He’s now a full-time helmsman. David Clarke was in at the beginning and is now the station’s press officer, having retired from crewing. Guto Harri is better known as a writer and broadcaster, but is also a volunteer crew member at Chiswick. His late father was a volunteer for the RNLI in the Arran Islands.

They only do things together, as a crew, so they came up as a crew to receive their awards.

Photograph below: Bridget Osborne by Jon Perry



Keira Knightley’s new film, created by Rebecca Frayn

Keira Knightley stars in a new film released in March, about the disruption of the 1970 Miss World contest by Women’s Lib protesters. I spoke to the film’s creator Rebecca Frayn, who lives in Chiswick.

1970. Hot pants and bell-bottomed trousers. Glam Rock and glitter. Edward Heath became prime minister. There were widespread protests in America against the Vietnam war. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian hijacked four passenger planes. Terrorist groups with odd names like the Angry Brigade and the Weathermen pursued their singular agendas. Mick Jagger was fined £200 for the possession of cannabis. Paul McCartney left the Beatles. Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and Joan Baez performed at the Isle of Wight Festival and the first Glastonbury Festival was held. Protest and youth counterculture dominated the headlines.

Central to that heady mix was the fight for women’s rights. The Women’s Liberation Movement was new and making waves. In New York some 50,000 women took part in the Women’s Strike for Equality, which demanded abortion on demand, free childcare and equal opportunity in the workplace. In London, Women’s Lib protesters disrupted the Miss World contest, hosted by Bob Hope at the Albert Hall, throwing flour bombs, squirting water pistols and shouting ‘moo’ in protest at the ‘cattle market’.

Images: Lesley Manville and Greg Kinnear; Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Misbehaviour 

I vaguely remember it. Five women were arrested, and made a mockery of the proceedings at Bow Street Magistrates Court, calling the magistrate ‘daddy’. There’s little record of it now and the protest might have passed into history as no more than a feminist footnote, had writer and film maker Rebecca Frayn not pounced on the story and decided to write a screenplay. Rebecca has a track record of making films about women, (Annie Leibovitz, Leni Riefenstahl, Norah Ephron, Aung San Suu Kyi and the BBC 2 documentary Tory Wives). She also knows a thing or two about campaigning, having set up the We CAN environmental movement, which lobbied the government to take action on climate change in the run up to the 2010 Copenhagen Conference.

Photograph: Rebecca Frayn by James Willcocks

“Golliwog moment”

In 1970 Rebecca was still a child. “For me it was what I call a ‘golliwog moment’” she tells me, where something everyone was familiar with, which was completely normal and unremarkable, was suddenly seen in a different light. “As a young woman you had a sense that something was amiss and oppressive, and you didn’t know what it was”.

She grew up watching Miss World, as did millions of people around the world, as family viewing on primetime television. The women paraded in swimsuits as their breasts and hips were evaluated, and turned in a long line across the stage as the camera panned across their backsides. How was that ok? How was that ever considered acceptable? There’s a great line in the film (penned by co-writer Gaby Chiappe) in which the main protagonist, Sally Alexander, is at home with her mother and takes exception to her encouraging her own daughter to twirl around like a beauty queen. “You used to love playing Miss World when you were a little girl” says the mother. “Yes and we also liked eating our own snot” retorts Sally.

Image: Jessie Buckley and Keira Knightley as Jo Ann Robinson and Sally Alexander just before it all kicks off

Like me, Rebecca was dimly aware of the disruption of the Miss World contest at the time, but it was listening to The Reunion on Radio 4, which brought the five women who were arrested back together to reminisce, which made her realise the potential for a feature film.

The dramatic possibilities of the flour bombs and water pistols were a given, but she was also attracted by the women’s wit and anarchic exuberance. “They had a great sense of mischief and humour” she says. They defended themselves in court, calling Bob Hope and Miss World organiser Eric Morley as witnesses, and when they declined to appear, calling a policeman to take the stand to ask him questions like ‘who washes your socks?’ and ‘who irons your shirts?’ to ‘put Patriarchy in the dock’.

There’s also a clash of civil rights issues, as this was the first Miss World won by a Black contestant (Miss Grenada). In the film version, the Miss World organisers have brought in four Black judges to answer allegations of racism, and to introduce a Black and a White contestant to represent South Africa, as they were under pressure from the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Even so she found it hard to raise any interest for her script. It was Pathé who took it up, who also made Pride and Made in Dagenham. They evidently have a thing for grass roots struggles, social realism with a dollop of earthy British wit.

“Six months later the women’s marches happened and the Me Too movement took off.” The film company realised they were onto something. Shining a light on a moment where a civil rights movement found the spotlight was suddenly topical.

“Things shifted” says Rebecca. “The project took on an energy. It was easier to get Keira Knightley.”

Keira Knightley plays Sally Alexander, the intellectual leader of the group, who still teaches history at University College, London. Her character explains the serious rationale behind the protest: “This competition makes us compete with each other and makes the world narrower for all of us in the end”.

While Keira Knightley is the headline Hollywood A lister, she is also backed up by a brilliant cast. Jessie Buckley plays another of the protesters, Jo Ann Robinson, who was more of a firebrand: “They’re turning oppression into a spectacle. Let’s make a spectacle of our own”.

Phyllis Logan is Sally’s mother; Keeley Hawes plays Julia Morley, (who is still running beauty pageants in far off countries where they’re still acceptable, and who refused to meet Rebecca when she was doing her research). Rhys Ifans plays her partner, the late Eric Morley, and Greg Kinnear plays Bob Hope (who can still be seen somewhere on Youtube dodging flour bombs in the real event, says Rebecca).

Images of Misbehaviour courtesy of Pathé Films

The film has been made by an all-female team – written by Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe, produced by Suzanne Mackie and Sarah-Jane Wheale and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, the only female director to have won a Bafta.

Misbehaviour will be in cinemas from 13 March.


Watch: Players’ Christmas visit to West Middlesex Hospital

Pontus Jansson, Ollie Watkins, Bryan Mbeumo, David Raya, and Joel Valencia spent time distributing presents, signing autographs, and chatting to adult patients on the Kew Ward at West Middlesex University Hospital before Christmas. At the same time, Simon Andersson, Jonny Mitchell, Ali Coote, and Joe Hardy visited the Starlight Children’s Ward to spread some Christmas cheer in the run up to the big day.

Club hosts lunch for older residents

Dozens of the area’s older residents were treated to a sumptuous meal at the Annual BFC Christmas Luncheon, held in The Hive, at Griffin Park. This event, now in its ninth season, was put a week before Christmas Day. More than 50 people from local church and community groups, as well as Lifeline members and attendees from Brentford FC Community Sports Trust programmes, enjoyed the festivities.

Attendees enjoyed a three-course meal, supplied by the Brentford FC catering staff, with traditional turkey on offer. The afternoon continued with guests singing Christmas carols playing bingo and taking part in a quiz compiled by Peter Gilham. Further entertainment was also enjoyed by the guests and there were goody bags to take away. Buzz Bee was on hand to join in the celebrations and a great time was had by all.

The Club would like to thank Levy UK, the official food and hospitality partner at Brentford Community Stadium, for their support of the event. They provided table decorations, mince pies and crackers to ensure the event went with a bang. Left over mince pies and decorations were donated to Hounslow Community FoodBox.

Watch: Christmas Comes to Griffin Park

Supporters young and old got into the festive spirit at our annual Christmas with The Bees event. The gates at Griffin Park were thrown open with the First Team squad signing autographs, posing for photos, and running activities in the run-up to the big day.

Brentford FC 2020/21 Season Ticket pricing update

In case you missed it, most Season Tickets at our new stadium will be purchased from our Reservation Centre (in person or on the phone) and current Season Ticket Holders will be able to purchase up to two additional Season Tickets and form a group of up to 12 supporters*.

We’ve emailed our current Season Ticket Holders with their login details to access our Online Reservation Centre so they can create their group and confirm their contact details ahead of their appointment at the Reservation Centre. Estimated on sale dates for 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here.

We’ve also sent our Season Ticket brochures by post to current Season Ticket Holders and confirmed that Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that, current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices at the new stadium. Full prices and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found online here.

You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

With 2019/20 Club Memberships still available for only £25 Adults and £5 Juniors, this is another great reason to join our 4,000 current Members and gain priority access to Season Tickets in the new stadium.

Become a Club Member now

Alternatively, you can also join our Season Ticket waiting list at

*Subject to availability. Season Ticket Holders will be able to buy two additional Season Tickets in the one purchase. These could be for new Season Ticket Holders, or fellow Season Ticket Holders who are in a later priority window group. Season Ticket Holders can also group up with fellow Season Ticket Holders and their ‘plus two’s’. This will allow you to team up with others that you want to sit with, up to a maximum group size of 12 – assuming your group contains at least four Season Ticket Holders. This will be strictly monitored and we reserve the right to amend this policy should sales exceed expectations. The make-up of your group may impact on where you can sit – larger groups with more new fans will need to move to less central locations to ensure that longer term fans are not unfairly displaced.

Players spread Christmas cheer at West Middlesex Hospital

They have been delivering on the pitch in recent weeks but on Monday members of the First Team and B Team squad delivered in a different way at West Middlesex University Hospital.

Pontus Jansson, Ollie Watkins, Bryan Mbeumo, David Raya, and Joel Valencia spent time distributing presents, signing autographs, and chatting to adult patients on the Kew Ward while Simon Andersson, Jonny Mitchell, Ali Coote, and Joe Hardy visited the Starlight Children’s Ward to spread some Christmas cheer in the run up to the big day.

The visit has become a tradition with gifts donated by Brentford Football Club players and staff handed over to adults and children who have to spend time in hospital over the Christmas period.

Brentford FC top scorer Ollie Watkins said: “It’s nice to put a smile on people’s faces and give them a little surprise. Coming here opens your eyes and you realise how lucky we are to do what we love to do. It really makes you appreciate the little things.”

Director of Nursing at West Middlesex University Hospital, Vanessa Sloane said: “We would like to say a big thank you to Brentford FC for visiting our patients and for the kind gifts. Everyone was delighted to meet the players and it was a lovely festive treat at what can be a difficult time to be in hospital. Together with our charity CW+, we are very proud to be working with Brentford FC and incredibly grateful for all the support they show us and our patients throughout the year. We wish them lots of luck in their next match on Boxing Day.”

Become a Brentford Sports FEST ambassador just like Anna

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s biggest event of the year returns on April 5 2020. The Brentford Sports FEST will return next year with the popular 10k & 5k trail runs and 5k Walk & Talk, through the private grounds of Syon Park.

The event continues to go from strength to strength and this year we are excited to announce our new event Ambassadors. All event ambassadors are regular runners, ranging from beginner to more experienced. Our ambassadors will be able to share their experience and help anyone that needs extra information regarding our event in April.

We are happy to announce our first Brentford Sports FEST ambassador, Anna Rutowicz. Anna participated in the 5k run in 2019  and is a regular attendee at Park Run in Gunnersbury Park. Anna started running at the beginning of this year and since taking part in regular training and different running events including the  Brentford Sports FEST, her passion for the sport has grown along with her motivation to encourage others to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Ambassador Kit:

  • Unique code to book your place
  • Ambassador referral code – 20 per cent offer for ambassador referrals
  • Marketing Collateral and Brentford Sports FEST 2019 giveaway shirts

If you would like to become a Brentford Sports FEST ambassador, please contact

Anna’s Story:

“I started running frequently just this year after getting involved in a local charity 5k. The sense of achievement after completing the run inspired me to challenge myself further, signing up for the Vitality London 10k. I began regular training and came across Brentford Sports FEST, which was taking place a couple of weeks before the anticipated 10k. Taking part in the Sports FEST was such a fun experience that contributed to my motivation and confidence in running long distance. Fast forward to now and I am training for my first ever half marathon!

“Last year’s Sports FEST was very well organised. With a range of activities and running distances, including a family walk and talk, there really was something for everyone. The course took place in the grounds of Syon Park including sections that are usually closed off to the general public, making for a picturesque and interesting route, definitely one to track on Strava. Overall, the event was fun, relaxed and family friendly. Events like this really bring the local community together and I am looking forward to Brentford Sports FEST 2020!’’

Award winner Ben talks about his coaching journey

Ben Lampert, the UK’s only full-time deaf football coach, was among the winners at this year’s UK Coaching Awards. Ben, who works for Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, took home the Changing Lives Award – supported by Sport England. And his story has continued to attract media attention

Through his Deaf Sports Plus project with the Trust, Ben breaks down barriers by providing free sporting activities to deaf children. That is in addition to working with hearing and deaf children in West London schools, where he coaches football and teaches sign language. New for 2019, the Changing Lives Award is awarded to a coach who is leading the way to empower, inspire and connect people from diverse communities to overcome life challenges using the power of Great Coaching.

Ben spoke at length about his coaching journey to the AFP news agency and explained about his work coaching with the Trust and elsewhere. That piece can be read here.

Brentford staff and players have been busy in the media with lots of stories around the Club attracting national interest. Head Coach Thomas Frank sat down with John Cross, from the Daily Mirror, and that piece can be read here. Co-Director of Football Phil Giles spoke to The Guardian for a piece that can be seen here and Pontus Jansson did an interview with The Sun that can be seen here.

Radio link-up for youngsters

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust teamed up with local radio station Westside Radio to offer a DJ masterclass to young people living in Ealing in October. The partnership saw young people from our intervention projects learn how to operate broadcast equipment; learn how to play songs; basic presenting techniques and learning how to prepare and conduct a radio interview. The workshop culminated in the young people interviewing Brentford players Matej Majka and Gustav Mogensen in an interview-style setting.

And after Brentford’s stunning 7-0 victory over Luton Town in November, the youngsters put their skills to the test when they attended the game and took part in the post-match press conference. Rose, 14, had the unique opportunity to ask Brentford Head Coach Thomas Frank what his favourite moment of the game was.

Rose, who is a young carer for her mum, said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the workshop and then testing my skills at the press conference. I am proud to be the only female ‘journalist’ to ask a question!”

Commissioned by Ealing Council, the young people involved in the workshop are part of the Trust’s Young Carers and Brighter Futures projects, which offers educational and support activities. Along with playing the best hip hop and R&B, Westside Radio deliver community content related to Ealing and surrounding boroughs and upskill young people with a range of educational workshops.

Wilzy, Radio Presenter and tutor at Westside Radio, said: “It was a great pleasure training young people from Brentford FC Community Sports Trust in radio presenting. They really enjoyed the experience of presenting a radio show alongside interviewing some of Brentford’s players. Hopefully we have discovered some future stars of sports broadcasting!”

Watch: New Stadium – A Bird’s Eye View – December 2019

There are now only a few months left until Brentford FC will move in to a new stadium. The Brentford Community Stadium building project is almost complete with the pitch being looked after on a regular basis and the seating installed. Only a few more items remain to be finished.

The work remaining to be done will be complete over the next few months and we will start in our new stadium next season. Work is continuing on the internal fit-out and finalising the areas around the stadium. The associated development is also well underway around the stadium. Have a look at how the project is coming along from a Bird’s Eye view.

Brentford v Fulham sponsor plays role in tackling loneliness

Football clubs across Britain are urged to bring older and younger people together to help tackle loneliness and ageism and improve health, care and learning across generations. The call comes from United for All Ages, which is sponsored the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Fulham at Griffin Park in December. This is the first of several activities in the coming 12 months to mark United for All Ages’ tenth year as a social enterprise and the growth of intergenerational activities across the country.

Brentford is one of several football clubs which support projects that enable older and younger people to mix and share activities and experiences. In our case, this work is done via Brentford FC Community Sports Trust As well as supporting intergenerational walking football, the Trust is organised a Christmas cookery project bringing together young people on its National Citizens Service scheme with older people living in local sheltered housing. A group of youngsters on the NCS project cooked up a storm when they rustled up a festive Christmas dinner for elderly residents at Brooklands College in Weybridge.

The youngsters are part our football education programme that combines classroom-based learning with a rigorous football training schedule. To complement the learning, students are also taking part in the government-backed NCS programme with the English Football League Trust. The programme aims to provide young people with important life skills, and students earmarked a cooking project as their chosen social action project.

Hansa Darbar, Events, Community and Business Development Officer for Age UK Hounslow, said: “The students were so friendly and made our members feel very welcome and special. They enjoyed the delicious lunch prepared by young chef.”

United for All Ages is aiming to encourage more clubs and their community trusts/foundations to move from supporting age-segregated activities for older people and for young people to doing more to bring older and younger people together to tackle issues like loneliness and ageism, while improving poor health, care , housing and learning, thereby building stronger communities and a stronger country.

Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages, said: “Football clubs have the power to bring different ages together at a time when there is so much loneliness and division. Brentford’s Christmas cookery project is a great example of the benefits for both young and older people of bringing generations together. Mixing really matters! Enabling different generations to mix and share activities and experiences can tackle loneliness and ageism and improve care, health, housing and learning.

“Brentford is truly a football club for all ages – a real community and family club and a great place to meet friends old and new. In the 2020s together we can make Britain a country for all ages.”

Watch: From the Boardroom

Volunteer at oral history project

Brentford FC and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has teamed up with educational charity Digital Works to develop an oral history project. We are looking for 16 volunteers to get involved in this exciting new project that will record and preserve the history of fans, players and staff of Brentford FC. If you want to interview the likes of Brentford legends Peter Gilham and Kevin O’Connor then this is the project for you.

All volunteers will receive training and support to conduct oral history interviews. You will be working with local archives in Chiswick as well as accessing the archives of the football club.

Benefits of becoming a volunteer:

  • Tour of Griffin Park
  • Talk and workshop from a historian
  • In-depth training from digital:works in oral history interview techniques and using audio equipment
  • Research workshops at local archives
  • Learn to write interview summaries
  • Support conducting oral history interviews
  • The opportunity to interview some of Brentford’s most well-known people

These recordings will be used to develop an oral history-based documentary that will be shared online, on TV, and at community history groups across the UK.

Your commitment:

You will need to be able to take part in all three training days plus a research visit to Chiswick Library Archives.

Training days are Monday 3 February, Monday 10 February and Thursday 13 February from 10am to 4pm at Griffin Park Learning Zone, Brentford.

There will be an additional research visit to Chiswick Library Archives – date and time to be confirmed.

You will conduct at least one day as part of an interview team. These will mainly take place in the Brentford area throughout March 2020. There will be a big launch event for the film and interviews later in 2020.

Some volunteer expenses will be covered.

Places are limited so please contact us asap to find out more and book your place. To sign up to become a volunteer please contact Matthew Rosenberg at or on 07949 107 023.

Award win for Ben Lampert

Ben Lampert, the UK’s only full-time deaf football coach was among the winners at this year’s UK Coaching Awards. The prestigious annual celebration of Great Coaching, which demonstrates the role coaching plays in transforming lives and inspiring an active nation, was held last month at The Tower Hotel, London. Ben, who works for Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, took home the Changing Lives Award – supported by Sport England.

Through his Deaf Sports Plus project with the Trust, Ben breaks down barriers by providing free sporting activities to deaf children. That is in addition to working with hearing and deaf children in West London schools, where he coaches football and teaches sign language. New for 2019, the Changing Lives Award is awarded to a coach who is leading the way to empower, inspire and connect people from diverse communities to overcome life challenges using the power of Great Coaching.

Ben who is also Assistant Manager of the England deaf men’s football team, said: “Coaching is so different to playing. You need a whole host of different skills to coach. We’ve been running the deaf football scheme at Brentford (Community Sports Trust) for ten years and at first we struggled but you come to realise that sport is the same whoever takes part in it.”

The full winners on the night were:

Awards for Coaches:

Children and Young People’s Coach of the Year – supported by sportscotland

Sasha Moore (multi-sport, Stockport)

Community Coach of the Year – supported by Spond

Andrew Beech (multi-sport, London)

Changing Lives Award – supported by Sport England

Ben Lampert (football, London)

Talent Development Coach of the Year – supported by UK PCA

Danielle Brayson (swimming, Glasgow)

High Performance Coach of the Year – supported by UK Sport

Mel Marshall (swimming, Derby/Loughborough)

Young Coach of the Year – supported by Sport Wales

James Galt (football/futsal, Lancashire)

Coaching Moment of the Year – supported by Sports Journalists’ Association

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC – 4-0 win over Barcelona in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League semi-final

Lifetime Achievement Award

Judy Murray OBE (tennis)

The Coaching Chain

Ben Stokes (cricket) – Jon Gibson, John Windows, Geoff Cook, Andy Flower and Trevor Bayliss

Hannah Mills (sailing) – Anne Barrett, Ollie Green, Alan Williams and Joe Glanfield

Awards in Support of Coaches:

Coach Developer of the Year

Sue Ringrose (horse racing, Linconshire)

Transforming Coaching Award – supported by Believe Perform

Great Britain Hockey Coach Development Offer

Coaching for an Active Life Award

The Bulldogs (boxing, Port Talbot)

UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching, Emma Atkins said: “What a fantastic night. It has been such a privilege getting to meet so many inspirational coaches. The range of coaching talent in the UK is astonishing and the UK Coaching Awards offers us a chance to recognise the exceptional achievements of just a fraction.

“Whether it’s at community or world class level, Great Coaching is all about people – a great coach focuses on a participant’s character, their feelings and motivations to help them thrive. They create healthy and happy lives and in many cases, can even change the trajectory of someone’s life for the better. You cannot fail to be inspired by the finalists and winners at tonight’s Awards. Congratulations to all of them – and to the work of all coaches doing great work all over the UK”.

Chiswick House appoints new Director

Chiswick House & Gardens has a new director. Xanthe Arvanitakis has run both the Visitor Experience at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and commercial operations at the Sir John Soane’s Museum
and will take up the post in March.

At Greenwich she launched the new visitor experience, with the re-opening of the Painted Hall following a £8.4 million award winning conservation initiative.

Sir John Soane’s Museum also went through a transformation on her watch, with the restoration of Soane’s private apartments and opening up of other rooms and exhibition spaces.

Before working in museums, her career was in digital marketing, working with clients from a wide range of industries developing digital marketing, e-commerce and mobile solutions.

Sir Derek Myers, recently appointed as Chair of the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust, said:

“I am delighted that Xanthe has agreed to take up the Directorship of CHGT at such an important time in the Trust’s development. Xanthe is the ideal person to lead the Trust as this exciting time and I look forward to working with her to look after this magnificent estate that is well-loved by all who use it.”

Xanthe, who lives locally and took part in the half marathon which started in the grounds of Chiswick House in October, said:

“I am thrilled to take up the role as Director of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust and have the opportunity to work with the Trustees, staff and volunteers to help shape the future plan and ensure the magnificent Grade 1 listed house and gardens continues to thrive”.

She sounds like a breath of fresh air. Chiswick House competes with Osterley Park and Gunnersbury Park for visitors, both of which have very full programmes of activities on offer for children and adults.

IKEA comes to Hammersmith

IKEA UK has announced plans to open a ‘unique’ store in Hammersmith.

Its uniqueness comes from its relatively small size. IKEAs are normally the size of a small town, but this one represents ‘a whole new format for the city’. It will be the first IKEA store on a High St.

The Swedish retailer has bought the whole of King’s Mall and although it will be small by IKEA standards, consumers will still be able to buy some 2,000 home furnishing products – and to sit down to a plate of Swedish meatballs there.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council said:

“We’re very pleased Hammersmith will benefit from having Britain’s first IKEA city store. The new Ingka Centre will help rejuvenate King Street and improve our neighbourhood for all our residents and local businesses.

IKEA Hammersmith is set to open in Spring 2021.

20 January is ‘Blue Monday’

Beat those January Blues with a day of social activity and community events. Better Mental Health in Chiswick is organising a programme of events for ‘Blue Monday’ to help banish those January lows. The events will take place at the Catholic Centre, 2 Dukes Avenue and the Chiswick Library. All events are free, and anyone can drop in to one or all sessions.

Full programme



11-1 Winter Art Workshop (Artivate)

11:30 – 12 Talk on Green Doctors and Looking after yourself this Winter (GreenWork, )

12 – 12:30 Talk on Eat Well – Making healthier food and drink choices(Rasneet Choudray, One You Hounslow)

1:00 – 2:00 Lunch – Freshly prepared based on One You Hounslow `Cook and Eat’ recipes

2:30 – 3:00 Poetry for Wellbeing – Share the poetry you love and create some new pieces.  (Kyrill Potatpov BMHIC)

2:30 – 3:00 (upstairs) Talk on Living a Smoke Free life – the Benefits of being a non smoker (Rasneet Choudray, One You Hounslow)

3:15 – 4:00 (upstairs) Mindful Yoga (Karin Gartze)


11;15 – 12:00 Chair Yoga (Karin Gartze)

4:00 – 5:00 Origami for beginners (Kyrill Potapov)


5:30 – 7:00pm ReadWell Book Club Monthly Session

Our first ReadWell Book Club of the year will be looking at our book choices for the next part of the year. Please do send us your suggestions of books and themes on mental wellbeing that you would like us to consider. One recurring theme is…. why read books on mental health – Is it to learn more about the subject or could it also be about being connected, being inspired, and self help?

We will also be taking a look at and reading from Scarlett Curtis’ recent collection of stories and essays ‘It’s Not OK to Feel Blue’

Better Mental Health Chiswick

BMHC is a small volunteer group established autumn 2018 to improve mental health locally. We think community and creativity can help in strengthening everyone’s mental health. We work by:

– Raising profile of mental health and challenging stigma through events, media and social media presence
– Supporting practical initiatives of others to improve mental health
– Piloting new initiatives ourselves to improve mental health
– Providing input to Hounslow Council and NHS mental health service commissioning.

We welcome volunteers to get in touch at







From the Curious to the Extraordinary

Photographs above: Flea circus photograph by Robert Doisneau; an egg of the Elephant Bird from Madagascar 

In January 2020, Chiswick Auctions will hold its inaugural From the Curious to the Extraordinary auction. The sale will celebrate the weird, the wonderful and everything in between and will be the ultimate cabinet of curiosity for interior enthusiasts or those with eccentric tastes. Ahead of the sale, we take a look at some of the items already consigned by their Specialists.

Step right up, come one, come all to the greatest show on earth

French photographer Robert Doisneau is known for his humanist photography and romantic images of Paris. In contrast Doiseneau’s work in the Curious sale ‘A flea tows a gun carriage as part of Wagner’s flea circus’ captures the bizarre but charming and once extremely popular mode of entertainment.

The flea circuses heyday was in the 1830s due to the abundance of fleas and was originally used by watchmakers to display miniature objects. The circuses remained popular for 50 years but slowly died out due to modern hygiene practices and the invention of the vacuum cleaner, which wiped the star performers out, making this image a throwback to a bygone era. Estimate: £400-600.

How many eggs does it take to make an omelette?

Like their namesake the flightless Elephant Bird from Madagascar was huge! Standing at a towering 3 meters, their eggs were no exception on the size scale, measuring in at 34cm and weighing around 10kg. Now extinct, they are the largest type of bird eggs to ever be found, with the volume of a single Elephant Bird egg weighing 160 times more than that of a chicken’s egg. Estimate:  £2,000-3,000.

The continuing mystery of the head and the theatre

This mysterious painted terracotta head is a fascinating sculptural object and yet we do not know the maker, function or subject. Indistinctly inscribed to the inside ‘John L.M.L ii V.on.V Theatre, London 1873’, despite much research, the owner has not been able to find a direct link to any particular theatre. It has been suggested, it was used as a stage prop or acting tool, perhaps a very strong man could place his head inside to play a part, hence the eyes that are drilled out. Whether it depicts the Green Man, a satyr or the devil himself is also up for discussion.
Estimate £1000-1500.

All creatures great and surreal

This work by British artist Harriet Horton’s takes the ancient art of taxidermy developed by the Egyptians, who not surprisingly mastered this pretty well owing to their already apt skills of mummification and mixed it with a splash of surrealism and pop art.  Horton’s work becomes a bizarre mix of the macabre and a candy colour daydream, that would look perfect adorning any room. Estimate: £350-500.

If you are interested in the sale please contact Head of Sale, Rachael Osborn-Howard at

From the Curious to the Extraordinary will take place on Tuesday 21st January 2020.


Man in the Middle – Chapter 18: Kitchen Sink

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact?

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read
No. 1: The Letter here

No.18: Kitchen Sink

Mother is washing her clothes in the kitchen sink. She is kneading them slowly and methodically like a master baker with a new batch of dough. On the counter next to her, I can see her pink pyjamas and some other garments soaking in my favourite copper stock pot.

This stock pot is French and very expensive. It’s bronze sheen is beautiful and every time I use it, I feel it does something magical to my otherwise mediocre cooking. With it by my side, I can open any cookbook with hope and ambition.

Looking at it now, full of undergarments and washing powder suds, I feel my culinary aspirations slipping away as fast as the dark water Mother is tipping down the plughole. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I think my emotions are close to what Parisians felt as they watched Notre Dame burn last year.

For a minute, I watch her from the doorway, while coming to terms with the violation of my stock pot. Why is she doing this? After all, we have a laundry room and the washing machine and drier are both working. Normally, she throws her dirty clothes into the communal laundry basket and they get washed along with everyone else’s. Is she unsatisfied with the way we have been washing her clothes? Or is this one of those seminal moments when I am going to realise that her mental health is beginning to crack?

‘What are you up to?’ I ask, gently.

‘Have you gone blind?’ she snaps back.

‘What I mean is, I was just wondering why are you washing your clothes down here? By hand? In the sink?’

‘To save your wife from having to do it for me, of course. What’s wrong with you this morning? You seem to have come downstairs without your brain.’

I’m a bit stung by this. To be fair to me, when it comes to doing the laundry, I’m pretty woke. I do my fair share alongside my wife. At least, that’s how I see it. But she’s missed my point. It’s not who’s doing it that I am worried about, but where and what it’s being done in. I ask again why she has chosen to do her laundry in the kitchen sink?

‘To save the planet, of course. Did you know, a single load of laundry in a washing machine creates 600g of CO2. If we wash our clothes less often and at a lower temperature, then we may be able to save the planet. Besides, it gives me something useful to do.’

I admire the fact that she has decided to try to save the planet at this stage of her life, even though it involves defiling my favourite stock pot. But I’m peeved because I can hear the voice of my Son speaking through her. I remember him ranting on about the ‘outrageous’ energy consumption of washing machines and, especially tumble driers a few weeks ago, when he tried to persuade us to recycle the tumble drier and use a washing line instead.

‘If you want to go to school in wet clothes for half the year, then be my guest,’ said my wife. ‘But if the tumble drier goes, so do I.’

For me, this was the decisive moment in the debate. No man in his right mind would ever consider trading his wife and a tumbler drier for a washing line. But, obviously, my son hadn’t given up on the argument and had continued his lobbying efforts with his grandmother, quietly and effectively.

‘There are lots of ways we can help fight climate change without washing our clothes in the kitchen sink,’ I say.

‘Of course, there are. The United Nations says we should wash our clothes less frequently, too. I’ve been wearing this lot for ten days, at least,’ she says proudly pointing at the garments in the stock pot.

My stomach tightens. I don’t want to know what clothes are in the stock pot. Or how long it is since they were last washed. Something beautiful has been desecrated and can never be the same.

Read the next in the series – Chapter 19: Reeling in the Years

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 19: Reeling in the Years

Read the previous one – Chapter 17: Resolutions

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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Hounslow plans to raise Council Tax

Hounslow Council is considering increasing Council Tax for the year 2020-21.

‘The ongoing impact of a decade of government cuts to its budgets and continuing financial pressures mean that Hounslow Council is having to consider increasing Council Tax by 3.99 per cent for 2020/21’.

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services said:

“The council continues to face major financial challenges due to austerity, particularly from the ever-growing demand on adult social care and children’s services. We therefore will need to make tough decisions in relation to Council Tax increases whilst protecting essential services for our most vulnerable residents and communities.”

The increase, which will be put to a Council meeting on 25 February, will mean an increase of £48.92 a year for a typical Band D property (excluding the Greater London Authority precept). According to LB Hounslow the increase would have been bigger if they hadn’t been so careful with the accounts:

‘Sound financial management has enabled the council to opt for an increase lower than last year’.

The Conservative opposition within the council, nine out of ten of whom represent Chiswick, does not agree that there has been sound financial management.

Photographs above: Cllr John Todd; Council leader Steve Curran

Failure to ensure sound financial management

Councillor John Todd says:

“Not one figure or example of good prudent practice or effective management is produced to justify the increase suggested”.

In fact, he says, there has been a “significant failure” by the council to ensure sound financial management.

“In June 2019 the London Borough of Hounslow Head of Governance reported to the Cabinet that their oversight of the LBH trading companies was materially wanting”.

The reference to ‘LBH trading companies’ refers to Lampton 360, which was set up in 2012 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the council, to run recycling, housing and green spaces in the borough, and turn a profit for the council in the process. This says Cllr Todd, has not been achieved.

“These entities had then borrowed circa £50m from LBH, had significant running costs and have yet to show any return. The justification to have these separate trading companies in some cases duplicating what’s done by council staff is not readily explained. They’ve been operating since 2016”.

He says he does not accuse council staff or councillors or financial impropriety, but he does accuse them of “slack” and “sloppy” use of public funds.

Lampton 360 Governance Review June 2019 criticised operation of Council owned companies

The report Cllr Todd refers to was a report by Peter Large, Head of Governance, presented to the Cabinet in June. In summary, the report says:

‘Generally, the existing framework has worked well and, subject to some important exceptions, has been applied and followed by both L360 and the Council’.

Among the important exceptions is this:

‘it is a requirement of the Shareholder Agreement that each subsidiary should submit an Annual Business Plan to the Council for agreement. For various reasons, this did not take place in 2018/19.

‘This is a serious omission. The submission of business plans for agreement, and the subsequent reporting of achievements in meeting business plan objectives through the year, is a key component of the governance framework, assists in transparency, and is one of the key mechanisms through which the Council can exercise control over L360 activity’.

‘Each company’s Business Plan should set out the key objectives of the business for the business plan period, how and when those objectives will be achieved, what resources will be required to deliver them, and how success will be measured. Without the opportunity to approve or provide input into business plans, or to approve any changes to business plans if necessary, the Council cannot assure itself that its own or L360 objectives are being achieved’.

Peter Large’s report concluded that  Lampton 360 needs to produce business plans for the Cabinet’s approval and that the Council needed to ‘recognise its role as the commissioner of L360’s services’, and develop a proper commissioning strategy.

‘There is a need for more clarity and better understanding across Council (both at officer and member level) in relation to roles and responsibilities with respect to L360’.

‘Savings’ not actually saved

Cllr Todd also criticises the way in which Hounslow Council has identified savings over a five year period, but not delivered them.

“In late 2019 savings which had been agreed by Cabinet members and senior officers over a period since 2014, totalling £16m, were removed or rebased. Put simply, unrealisable savings sitting as IOUs in someone’s desk slowly collectively building up to a huge sum making them making the description of them as being ‘savings’ as utter nonsense”.

Unallocated funds not used

He is also concerned about unallocated funds not being used.

“LBH continues to have unallocated funds, such as funding from the government called New Homes Bonus. Currently £20m plus NHB is available with some of this funding being carried forward unused from the last financial year. Hounslow has a £8.1m council tax shortfall in this budget and it could be eliminated or reduced by using this funding”.

“We’ve yet to see the Council Budget report which is due in February. The Government grant was increased this year by 4.45% with additional funding for adult and children’s services. This Labour Council’s manifesto promises to keep council taxes to a minimum. It demonstrably hasn’t”.

2% increase ringfenced for adult social care

Local authorities have a legal duty to fund care for those who pass centrally set needs and means tests. As the population ages, the need for adult care is spiralling. According to the Institute for Government:

‘Demand for publicly funded adult social care is likely to continue rising faster than money local authorities have to spend on it. Unless local authorities can make further efficiencies, the government will either have to spend more or accept that local authorities will have to reduce the quality of, or access to, care’.

Two per cent of the 3.99 increase is an adult social care precept, an increase which central Government has said it expects councils to make. The adult social care precept is ringfenced to protect adult social care services for the most vulnerable families.

Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran’s commented on the proposed increase:

“The council, residents and businesses face significant challenges for the foreseeable future, but despite the cuts to our budgets, we are committed to providing good quality services that are viable and economically sustainable. We must find more innovative ways of dealing with these new challenges, especially with regard to climate change and becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We will continue to put significant resources into improving air quality and green spaces in the borough, and I look forward to working with residents and businesses to achieve this.”


Britain abandons the rights of children

Photograph: Sara Nathan, co-founder and director of Refugees At Home; Lord Dubs with Nicholas Winton

The EU Withdrawal bill is being discussed in the Lords this week, and Alf Dubs, who came to this country as a child refugee from the Nazis, courtesy of the Kinder Transport programme, will be trying to get an amendment passed which will allow unaccompanied children to be reunited with members of their surviving family in this country.

It’s something which happened as a right under EU law. When the Withdrawal bill was first debated, Lord Dubs managed to get all party backing for an amendment which kept the right for an unaccompanied Syrian child to be reunited with an uncle in Birmingham, who may be their only surviving relative of the war.

When the Withdrawal bill was reintroduced and passed by the Commons last week, that amendment had been quietly ditched. He’s now fighting to get it put back.

“The way we treat the most vulnerable people is a test of who we are, what kind of country we hope to live in and what humanity we have. The most vulnerable people imaginable are lone refugee children” he says.

The numbers of children seeking to join their families here amount to only a few hundred. Lord Dubs is calling once more on public support.

Sara Nathan, who runs Refugees At Home, a local charity which enables ordinary people to offer rooms to refugees while they are finding their feet, argues here that impact on the most vulnerable of humanity, if the amendment is not reinstated, will be to drive unaccompanied children into the waiting hands of traffickers ready to exploit them.

Photograph: Musicians from the Yehudi Menuhin School playing in the Good Chance theatre in the Calais Jungle camp in 2016

Guest blog by Sara Nathan

R, a refugee from Afghanistan, is obsessed with cricket, which he has learnt to play through the Refugee Council scheme. When I first met him, he couldn’t wait to get back to his game. But some food would be good too. Actually, lots of food. Such a slight, thin boy and it was obvious to someone who has a son, that he couldn’t be more than about 16: the lack of muscle; the half-fledged look, everything really. But the powers-that-be said he was 22, and he was therefore kicked out of his foster placement and banned from school. So, although my charity, Refugees At Home, doesn’t usually host unaccompanied children, given the option was an all-night bus, graveyard or park, we took him in. R was lucky. The Refugee Council fought his case, the judge agreed he was still a child and soon after he went back into care.

R is just one of the thousands of unaccompanied children facing a really uncertain future either because they can’t get to the UK safely and legally to join their family here or because, if they do get here safely, they are forbidden from reuniting with their birth parents.

This week the House of Lords may well decide to re-instate the Dubs amendment to the Brexit Withdrawal Bill and allow separated child refugees, now in Europe, to come to the UK to be reunited with family members here. But given the government majority, it’s unlikely to make any difference. Last week the new government dumped its previous commitment to take in child refugees

Alf Dubs – who is a patron of Refugees At Home, which is how I know him – has lobbied, fought, persuaded and cajoled us to treat children now as he was treated when he came to this country as a six-year-old kinder-transport child in 1939. When Sir Nicholas Winton saved Alf and 668 other children and enabled them to flee Nazi persecution and build their lives here, he created a whole generation of people who grew up to be British citizens, integrated into the communities which rescued them.

At the very same time my grandparents hosted another kinder-transport boy, a German lad called Richard, whom I vaguely remember, who grew up and went into business with my father. Maybe the kindertransport wasn’t altogether a good thing: what Great Britain was doing was choosing to rescue the children but condemn their families to oppression and death in the extermination camps. The policy was to separate the smallest and most vulnerable, almost all of whom never saw their parents or siblings again, and forget about the rest, who perished.

It should make us want to do better this time. Or at least as well.

But child refugees are having a harsh time of it. If they manage to get here on their own, we are the only country in Europe which doesn’t allow minors to apply for family reunification visas for their parents and siblings. Adults who get refugee status in the UK can be reunited with their children and spouses, but children are expected to grow up here on their own – whatever they have fled.

The authors of a report published just last week by Amnesty, the Refugee Council and Save the Children “Without My Family” say this is “at odds with national law and a flagrant breach of international law, causing irreversible harm to children in this country.”

The numbers aren’t huge: there were 3,060 unaccompanied child asylum-seekers claiming asylum here in 2018. About a third of that number attained refugee status. And then they are condemned to be alone.

About 10,000 separated children have arrived in the last decade: they get here informally, often by lorry, because there are no safe and legal routes to join siblings, aunts, other family members. The Home Office has only facilitated 700 to do so “legally” in that time. And that’s in spite of the work of Lord Dubs and the Safe Passage campaign.

Photograph: Musicians from the Yehudi Menuhin School playing in the Good Chance theatre in the Calais Jungle camp in 2016

When my husband and I took a group of young musicians from the Yehudi Menuhin School to play in the Good Chance theatre in the Calais Jungle camp in 2016, the rapt audience was full of young Afghani lads, travelling alone or with friends, aged maybe 12 – 16. I can’t forget the teenager who slunk out as our Canadian cellist played “The Dying Swan” – because the beautiful music was making him cry so much and he didn’t want to display weakness.

We knew that Yehudi Menuhin – who visited Belsen to play for the survivors there just after it was liberated – would have wanted his centenary year marked by ‘his’ children performing to separated children in a camp only a few hours travelling time from his famous school in Surrey. So that’s what we did.

Some of those children may have made it here to join their extended families. Others just disappeared when the Jungle was destroyed. They will have been trafficked, raped, exploited. They are children.

Now there are about 4,000 unaccompanied children in Greece alone. They can’t stay there safely. Even the Home Office doesn’t send asylum-seekers back to Greece: it’s grossly over-crowded and failing to cope.

Yet 348 MPS voted against an amendment that would have kept protection for child refugees in the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Maybe the Lords will mark a protest. Probably it will be ineffective.

So, if we want the UK to be the sort of civilised country which doesn’t approve of children, victims of war and persecution, being rejected and left to suffer, we have to take action ourselves.

We can support Safe Passage, which campaigns for those children who still have a right to come here, to be allowed to do so:

We can join the over 150,000 who have signed the petition:

There is a charity which supports separated children when they arrive in the UK by providing arrival packs (I help pack them a couple of times a month – its quite fun and you feel you have achieved something concrete).

Finally of course, I would encourage anyone with a spare room to apply to host with Refugees At Home. We don’t host many children and those we do are the age-disputed ones. But it’s really worthwhile and life-enhancing – and I have hosted 21 people, so I should know by now!

Sara Nathan is co-founder and director of the charity Refugees At Home 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Volunteering in Chiswick 

See also: Eighty years since the Kindertransport brought refugees from Nazi Germany here

Cherry Blossom Festival

Plans are afoot for a Cherry Blossom Festival this spring.

Every year the trees along Stavely Rd, in Grove Park, put on a magnificent show. 

Resident Sally Malin decided there’s no better way to celebrate the coming of spring than to have a street party when the trees are in bloom.

Sally, who runs Better Mental Health Chiswick, is all for anything which will uplift the spirits, which the annual display of blossom definitely does.

Her main problem in organising such an enterprise is second guessing when the little darlings will bloom.

The Japanese themed street party will be either Sunday 19 or Sun 26 April, to be confirmed in February, once there’s a clearer idea of how the weather is affecting the buds.  

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Better Mental Health Chiswick

See also: Labour activists set up Better Mental Health group

“Do the politically difficult things as soon as possible”

We can expect a raft of controversial planning reforms in the weeks to come, which may pave the way for a forest of tall buildings along the approach to London from Heathrow and into Chiswick.

Boris Johnson’s most senior adviser Dominic Cummings told ministerial aides at a No.10 briefing just before Christmas that the Government “must do the politically difficult things as soon as possible.”

That, he said, would include planning liberalisation, including allowing developers and homeowners to build upwards.

Developers see the planning process as a huge and expensive drag on the business of getting their developments built, and want the power of local government reduced.

Other Government plans likely to be implemented include scrapping a regulation that forces builders to apply for permission if they want to demolish a commercial property and replace it with homes.

Hounslow Council wants the M4 corridor flanked by commercial buildings, not residential, not least because of the poor air quality and the noise generated by the motorway.

But LB Hounslow lost a High Court case just over a year ago to Paradigm Land, who bought an office block on the Great West Road, a few hundred yards west of Chiswick roundabout, and turned it into housing units.

High Court to decide on the Curve

We are awaiting another High Court ruling, on the Chiswick Curve, the 32-storey development at Chiswick roundabout proposed By Starbones.

The development was turned down last year by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State at the Department of Local Government and Housing, after planning permission had been refused by Hounslow Council and the decision had gone to a Public Inquiry.

The developers immediately appealed the Secretary of State’s decision, and it is now a matter for the court to decide.

But there are other planning decisions waiting in the wings for the next Secretary of State to decide, and the political wind has changed.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Local residents oppose Chiswick Curve proposal at public meeting.

See also: Who has control over business decisions?

Who should be the next leader of the Labour party?

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, would like your thoughts on the subject.

Should it be Keir Starmer, who came to Hounslow to support Ruth’s election campaign and has been endorsed this week by Ken Livingstone?

Should it be Jess Phillips, who announced on Jan 1:

“I’ve woken up with an absolute cob on about the people who get to make decisions about our lives. 2020 starts with fire in my belly and I promise that won’t change”.

Will the Labour party be remade in Jeremy Corbyn’s image with Rebecca Long-Bailey as his successor?

Or one of the other candidates jockeying for position?

Ruth Cadbury would like to hear what you think.

She gives us her thoughts on the parliamentary year ahead, the challenges and her ambitions for 2020 in her guest blog on The Chiswick Calendar website. Read her guest blog here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Guest blog by Ruth Cadbury – 2020 Look Ahead

See also: Business as usual for Chiswick MPs

Get fit in 2020

It never hurts to at least start the year with intentions of getting fit. 

The Hogarth Club in Airedale Avenue offers an exclusive Chiswick Calendar membership deal, with a reduced joining fee and an offer of two months’ membership for the price of one.

The Hogarth Club offers a state of the art gym and a pool, with sauna and jacuzzi and a range of classes from Bodypump to yoga.

But if you don’t want to join a gym, you just want to pick a bespoke activity to focus on, have a look at our Fitness Guide for a range of fitness activities around Chiswick, from ballet to paddleboarding.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Getting back to fitness after childbirth

See also: The Fitness Directory

The Chiswick Calendar party 2020

The Chiswick Calendar is celebrating five years. 

Come and help us celebrate on Thursday 16 January in the Boston Room of George IV. 7.30pm (doors open 7.00pm).

Meet other people with a vested interest in maintaining all the good things about Chiswick and creating new things to make it an even more enjoyable place to live.

The most informal AGM you could possibly find! Music from the Greg Davis trio.

Tickets £8.00 + booking fee.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pictures from last years party

See also: Jazz at George IV

Re-launch of historic Bedford Park Bicycle Club