Visit the ‘lush paradise’ of Chiswick says Wall Street Journal

Image above: Chiswick House; photograph Anna Kunst

‘Visiting London? Don’t Skip Chiswick, a Lush Paradise that Inspired Van Gogh, W.B. Yeats and More’ The Wall Street Journal tells its readers

A couple of months ago an American journalist got in touch with me to talk about Chiswick. She is a novelist who lives in the South of France, but had ‘discovered’ Chiswick and thought she could get the Wall Street Journal to take a piece for their travel section.

The feature, by Mary Lou Longworth, has just been published and if their readers take any notice we can expect an influx of American visitors. Chiswick is a ‘lush paradise’ with ‘trendy gastropubs, cheese toasties and the haunting traces of centuries of artists and writers.’

All this we know. This is why we live here. But now – they know.

Image above: Outside the City Barge at Strand on the Green; photograph Anna Kunst

She was introduced to Chiswick by a friend:

‘A friend from Notting Hill joked that suburban Chiswick is where young, well-off Londoners go to have babies but the area also boasts a grand, Palladian-style mansion with 65-acres of free gardens and quaint riverside pubs to dally in.

‘Long before Vincent van Gogh painted Wheatfield with Crows, he visited much greener pastures’ Mary Lou writes.

‘For three years of his short life, the artist taught at a London boys’ school and assisted at the Chiswick Congregational Church. Van Gogh, then in his 20s, wrote to his brother Theo in 1876 praising verdant Chiswick.’

Image above: House in Bedford park where W.B Yeats lived

She goes on to describe the history of Chiswick since the Iron Age, focusing on our illustrious artists and writers:

‘From the 1700s on, Chiswick has been home to a Who’s Who of British literary and artistic fame.’

She talks about Yeats and Bedford Park, E.M. Forster, Harold Pinter and Patrick Hamilton and says:

‘I paused before Dame Iris Murdoch’s beloved childhood home (no blue plaque yet, but the writer’s address can be found at

Thanks Mary Lou, you have introduced The Chiswick Calendar to an American audience. We are now a global publication! Welcome to our American readers.

Image above: Chiswick House Gardens; photograph Anna Kunst

She talks about the Tabard theatre, the poet Alexander Pope and Chiswick House and gives a little guided tour suggesting a route for tourists to follow, but here she veers a little off piste, suggesting The Carpenter’s Arms as her favourite place to dine – which is, I believe, technically in Hammersmith.

My American neighbours, who have lived here for several years, will be congratulating themselves on being way ahead of the game, but they are but the vanguard. Welcome to New York’s most intrepid and cultured travellers, we wait to greet you.

You can read the whole article on the Wall Street Journal’s website here, if you are happy to pay to read it:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick School wins prestigious Tes Excellence in Creative Arts Award

Image above: Tommy Robinson receiving his award

Chiswick School wins prestigious Tes Excellence in Creative Arts Award 2023

Chiswick School has been awarded with the prestigious Tes Excellence in Creative Arts Award (2023).

The awards ceremony, which is on of the most prestigious events in the UK education calendar and dubbed the ‘Oscars of Education’, is now in its landmark 15th year and celebrates the extraordinary commitment, quality and innovation shown by teachers and support staff across the UK.

The 2023 Tes Schools Awards brought together the best teachers and schools from UK state and independent settings, including early years, primary schools and secondary schools. The panel of awards judges included school leaders, experts and education researchers.

Tommy Robinson, Creative and Performing Arts Coordinator said:

“We have spent the last four years developing and encouraging the Arts at Chiswick School among the students, staff and wider community. In that time we have grown from a very humble beginning (one or two projects per year) to now producing well over 30!

“This award is testament to the hard work of everyone in the Arts; but mostly to the commitment and sheer determination of the students that follow us on our quest to be the best! Also to the parents for their commitment and support of the school.”

Image above: Tes awards 2023

Chiswick School “doing something extraordinary”

Chiswick School said the award is a true reflection of the extraordinary reach of the Creative Arts department both at school and in the community. Judge Lucy Cuthbertson said:

“Chiswick has a broad offering across the arts, and all of them are great with everyone taking part. They are clearly doing something extraordinary. They go out of their way to stretch their students and not do the predictable.”

Tes editor and chief judge of the Tes Schools Awards Jon Severs said:

“With these awards we honour the education community, who we’ve served for nearly 113 years. This year has seen some incredibly high-quality entries.

“These awards showcase just how vital our education professionals are to every facet of this country. Teachers, leaders and support staff all play such an important role in schools: this is our chance to say thank you for all that they do.”

Chiswick Auctions sells Cartier earrings with romantic wartime story attached

Images above: Mary Booker, photograph Mario Bucovich; Flight Lieutenant Richard Hillary

Mary and Richard – A True Story of Love and War

Chiswick Auctions have sold a pair of aquamarine and diamond Cartier earrings belonging to a woman called Mary Booker, whose romantic wartime love affair with a Spitfire pilot became the basis of the novel Mary and Richard – A True Story of Love and War.

In 1941, bombed out of her London house during the Blitz, Mary Booker had a chance meeting Richard Hillary, a Spitfire pilot recovering from terrible injuries sustained in the Battle of Britain, and from that meeting there developed a passionate love affair that lasted until his death just over a year later.

Mary was a society beauty whose mother was a first cousin to the poet W.B. Yeats.  She was introduced to Richard by the movie star Merle Oberon.  At that point Mary was divorced, a mother of two grown-up daughters, and she was 20 years older than Richard, who was just 22 when they met.

He was already a hero, the handsome Royal Air Force fighter pilot who had shot down at least five enemy planes during the Luftwaffe’s continuous air attacks on London during the summer of 1940.

He had suffered severe burns when he was shot down over the North Sea and gone through a series of painful operations for his face to be partially restored. He had written a book about the experience, The Last Enemy, describing his carefree days at Oxford, his experiences as a fighter pilot, the deaths of close friends in the RAF and his convalescence, which had made him famous.

Images above: ‘Mary and Richard’ by Mary’s husband Michael Burn; ‘The Last Enemy’ by Richard Hillary

A brief and poignant story

The pioneering surgery he received was at the hands of Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon who gained a reputation for improving the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned aircrew during the war.

That she still found him attractive is evidenced by her letters to him, which formed the basis of the novel about their affair, written many years later by her husband Michael Burn.

She wrote: ”Once or twice in moments of almost sacrilegious flippancy on our part I have been struck, in mid-heart as it were, by the seriousness of our love. It is the strangest feeling – rather frightening mentally and giddy-making physically.”

Tragically Richard died in January 1943 when he took his plane up in bad weather and crashed near his airdrome. He and his navigator were killed instantly.

Mary worked with his parents to keep his memory alive by establishing a trust to provide grants for young writers. It was not until four years later that she married Michael Burn, a former army commando and war prisoner, who went on to become a foreign correspondent, novelist and playwright.

Images above: Mary’s Cartier aquamarine and diamond earrings

Art Deco earrings by Cartier

Mary’s earrings, sold by her granddaughter, fetched £12,500 at the auction house’s jewellery sale on Thursday 15 June. They are typical of the late Art Deco style when, after the Wall Street Crash in 1929, some of the less expensive gemstones became popular in jewellery manufacture.

Jacques Cartier in London famously championed the ‘humble’ aquamarine in the mid to late 1930s, pairing the stone with diamonds for an effect he considered suited to independent-minded women of the era.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ron Mushisho chosen as Tory candidate for SW London Assembly seat

Image above: Ron Mushisho and Tony Arbour (L to R)

Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor chosen to represent south-west London

The Conservative Party has announced Chiswick councillor Ron Mushiso as its candidate for the upcoming London Assembly elections in the South West London constituency. The seat, which covers the boroughs of Hounslow, Richmond, and Kingston, is currently held by Conservative politician Nick Rogers, who recently declared his intention to step down.

Councillor Ron Mushiso, who represents Chiswick Gunnersbury ward, grew up as a foster child in Chiswick, Ron has dedicated his political career to championing crucial issues such as social care and youth services. Alongside his role as a school PE teacher, the former professional rugby player actively organises litter picks in his ward and has voiced his opposition to Cycleway 9.

Despite his candidacy for the London Assembly elections, Ron has decided to retain his seat on Hounslow Council until the election takes place.

He faces a challenging campaign to retain the seat, as the election is scheduled for May 2, 2024, coinciding with the Mayoral election.

In the previous election in 2021, Nick Rogers managed to secure victory with less than one-third of the total votes in a three-way contest against the Liberal Democrats and Labour candidates. Before Rogers, the seat was held by Tony Arbour, a long-serving Conservative representative who fully supports Mr. Mushiso’s candidacy.

Recently, Nick Rogers had initially sought to become the Conservative Party’s candidate for London Mayor. He withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Paul Scully, who did not make the shortlist.

Image above: Outgoing SW London Assembly Member Nicholas Rogers

Nick Rogers stepping due to ‘personal circumstances’

Explaining his decision not to contest the Assembly seat, Mr. Rogers said:

“It’s a combination of various factors, but ultimately, it’s a highly personal decision. It concerns the direction I want to take in my life. People may know me from my recent involvement in London politics, but I have been involved in this field since I was 15 years old, in one way or another.”

Rogers, who will turn 38 at the next election, expressed his desire to explore other opportunities beyond politics while emphasising his unwavering commitment to the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party membership will soon vote to determine their candidate for London Mayor, and the results are expected to be announced on 19 July.

“Crumbling kerbs, broken paving, poor lighting, dilapidated benches” – the centre of Chiswick needs an upgrade

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market; photograph Anna Kunst

Co-design Initiative for Chiswick High Road’s Old Market Place

Guest blog by Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, co-director of Chiswick Flower Market

Nearly three years ago we launched the first market – the monthly Chiswick Flower Market – in the centre of the High Road. Following in our wake came more Sunday markets, a higher profile for Chiswick with positive press coverage, and a general atmosphere of “buzziness” about the area. As well as aiding a commercial uptick on the high street, the markets have become a successful centre of community life, organising celebrations for occasions such as the Platinum Jubilee, the Coronation, and Christmas lighting.

But even a cursory glance at the infrastructure of our centre reveals crumbling kerbs, broken paving, poor lighting, dilapidated benches, non-compliant parking spaces, poor pedestrian signage, flooding, constrained tree roots, as well as collapsing walls which are potentially dangerous to passers-by. The area between 167 and 211 Chiswick High Road (or as it has come to be known, Old Market Place) was last modernised decades ago and is no longer fit for purpose.

Images above: Examples of the crumbling infrastructure of Old Market Place

Detail of plans launched last October

Last year the Flower Market team – all local residents working pro bono – asked independent landscape architect Luke Greysmith to come up with some initial proposals for Old Market Place. We presented these at a well-attended public meeting in October 2022, and also showed them to the councillors, to various council/public officers, including transport, regeneration, arboriculture, and the police, as well as to local businesses.

Taking feedback from all this, and also using topographic surveys, land ownership information, buried services, etc the proposals have now been further elaborated.

The aim of these proposals is absolutely not to remove all parking places from the centre. The existing parking spaces are no longer compliant with British Parking Association regulations, cars have become larger, loading bays have disappeared, disabled access needs improving.

This current proposal retains 44 spaces. There is currently no public seating in Old Market Place, no proper lighting, the space is littered with defunct electric cabinets and phone boxes, and rubbish collection areas are insufficient and ugly. We need more greenery in our lives.

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market in May

‘Whenever possible, do nice things first’ says the Government

The usage of the area is developing with the introduction of weekend markets, community events and entertainment. Chiswick deserves a civic centre that serves all members of the community.

The latest thinking from the government’s Office for Place on creating “beautiful and safe high streets” could have been written for Chiswick. Here are some of the main conclusions:

–           You need a clear vision of a better, busier, more prosperous and lovely place.

–           Find a thousand different ways to fill your town centre with people.

–           Create homes.

–           No one organisation, and certainly not the council alone, can regenerate a high street or a town centre.

–           Be open to any idea and any suggestion.

–           Get cracking. Don’t wait for perfection.

–           Whenever possible, do nice things first.

Image above: Antiques and Vintage market

Major changes taking place

The closure and sale of the Police Station means that Old Market Place is about to see some major changes and inevitable disruption. However, this also provides an opportunity for funding, and for transforming the area into an attractive, safe, prosperous and green town centre. We must not waste this chance.

We propose rain gardens to catch floods and add greenery and beauty; seating to meet friends and rest, more trees to combat climate change, a flexible space for – whatever the community wants to do. And of course a practical space for parking and shopping.

We would like to invite everyone who cares about the area and uses it to join us in a community-led design initiative.

This initiative is being run by independent social enterprise Create Streets, an organisation that makes it easier “to co-create beautiful, sustainable, prosperous, economically and socially successful places with strong local support and which residents will love for generations.”

The Flower Market team has spent a lot of time thinking about what could work, reviewing how the space is used, and talking to all interested parties. These designs do not represent a done deal, and we genuinely invite input to create the best possible proposals to present to the council.

Image above: Market trader paddles in rainwater 

How will the Co-Design work?

The community design initiative will run through 2nd July – 31st August 2023. We will launch the proposals at the Flower Market on Sunday 2nd July, where visitors can view the plans and chat through with the team.

The interactive map will go live on Sunday, with a hard copy at Chiswick Library, for paper responses from those who do not have access to the internet.

What happens then?

The results will be compiled by Create Streets, and fed back to the Flower Market team. Responses and good suggestions will be incorporated into the plans to be submitted to the council for review and further official council consultation, prior to any implementation.

Is this an official consultation?

This discussion does not replace the London Borough of Hounslow’s official consultation process. We feel there is great benefit in presenting a very local, resident-led and well thought-through proposal, rather than waiting for a top-down borough-led design.

We hope to see you at the Flower Market this Sunday to launch the design proposals. And if not, then via the online Co-design, which will be accessible from the Flower Market website.

Karen Liebreich

Chiswick Flower Market

Grove Park residents “outraged” about handling of developers’ appeal over 17 Hartington Rd

Image above: The Victorian house at 17 Hartington Rd

Developers appeal against Hounslow Council planning committee’s refusal to let them build luxury riverside houses

Residents of Grove Park described as “outrageous” that key documents supporting a developer’s appeal against a planning decision have only been published a few days before an important hearing with the Planning Inspector.

Last January LB Hounslow’s planning committee turned down an application from Residence One for the development of four luxury houses in the riverside garden of 17 Hartington Rd, despite the recommendation from their planning officers that they should accept it.

Local residents persuaded the committee of the case against the development, arguing that new residential housing should not be built in a conservation area which was also liable to flood. They raised 545 signatures on a petition against the proposed development.

Residence One’s appeal will be discussed at an informal meeting with a Planning Inspector (a member of the executive agency the Planning Inspectorate, independent of Hounslow Council) at Hounslow House on Tuesday 27 June at 10am.

Image above: Mukti Jain Campion representing Grove Park residents at last January’s planning committee meeting, with Cllr Sam Hearn and independent consultant Adam Gostling

Hundreds of pages of documentation supporting the appeal

Members of the public with an interest in the development are entitled to attend the meeting but Mukti Jain Campion, who represented Grove Park residents at last year’s planning committee meeting, told The Chiswick Calendar she had discovered the additional documents only by accident over the weekend.

She spotted them on Hounslow’s planning website when she was looking for something else, ploughing through several hundred pages of the developers’ case. She received about 40 calls and messages on Monday morning as word got round.

“I say what everybody around here in Grove Park is saying: it’s outrageous. If you look at the guidelines, any additional late information should only be considered if interested parties have had a chance to look at it.

“We have raised money to get professional advice. Every time they change the procedure we have to get new advice, which costs money. We’re talking about thousands of pounds.

“We are doing the work which the Council’s planning office should have done.”

The residents have known about the developers’ appeal since January and a timetable was set out for the delivery of documents. The developers submitted additional documents setting out their case to the Planning Inspectorate in April but these were only published by Hounslow Planning on 22 June.

“Even then they did not inform interested parties such as local objectors” said Mukti. “The late documents are substantial and we should have adequate time to review them in advance of the hearing.”

Image above: Back garden at 17 Hartington Rd

Development turned down as the site is at risk of flooding, planning committee found

The development was turned down in January 2022 after the committee spent several hours discussing a number of problematic issues with the proposed development.

Arguments against the application were that the development would be inappropriate within a back garden; that it was in contravention of the Council’s own policy as set out in the Local Plan; the scale and design were unsuitable for a Conservation area, and that it would be harmful to biodiversity as the garden contained well-established wildlife habitats.

It would do nothing to help the housing crisis, as these would not by any stretch of the imagination be described as ‘affordable’ flats.

Most importantly they argued that the site is at risk of flooding. Opponents demonstrated the site was at risk of flooding both from the river and from surface water. The land is designated as ‘3B’, the category most likely to be affected by river flooding.

Independent expert Jonathan Cage, Managing Director at Create Consulting Engineers Ltd, submitted that it would be “irresponsible” to build there.

In their appeal, Residence One disagrees with all these points, except the point about the development not meeting the Council’s goal of building more affordable housing.

Cllr John Todd asks for the meeting to be deferred so residents can have a fair hearing

Cllr John Todd

Cllr John Todd has contacted the Leader of the Council Shantanu Rajawat, the Chief Executive Niall Bolger and Executive Head of Planning Phil Creswell, asking for an explanation for this ‘unacceptable delay’ in publication and requesting they ask the Planning Inspector to defer the date of the appeal to allow residents to respond adequately.

Campaigners against the development say this delayed publication is patently unfair and places them at a serious disadvantage at the hearing as they and their expert advisers will have little time to review the new information.

Hounslow Council apologises for late publication

Hounslow’s Director of Planning and Buildings Vincent Lacovara has replied to Cllr Todd saying:

‘We have processed the application/ appeal correctly insofar as the notifications are concerned and the appeal statements are publicly available.

‘However, although the Statements of Case submitted by both the Local Planning Authority and appellant were made publicly available there was a rebuttal submitted by the appellant that was not added to our online website.

‘Upon discovering the issue the case officer took steps to remedy the situation and added it online, but this only took place last Thursday 22nd June 2023. I can understand that some parties would feel at a disadvantage with this and would like to apologise for this on behalf of the Council.’

He goes on to say the Inspector will be informed of the issue, but it would be up to the Planning Inspectorate to decide whether to defer the meeting.

‘The decision to refuse the application was made by the Local Planning Authority, in this case by members of the Planning Committee. It is now for officers to defend this decision at appeal which they will do to the extent of their abilities.’

Specialist planning consultant working for the developer used to work for Hounslow Council

The developers are represented in the appeal by DP9, a specialist planning consultancy where Sunny Desai is one of the directors. Mr Desai worked previously for Hounslow Council, for ten years as Deputy Planning Manager before he was promoted to Team Leader Strategic Projects in 2014. Although no wrong doing is alleged, opponents of the development are uneasy about the link.

The Chiswick Calendar has asked the Council’s Leader whether he was aware of this and whether this was not even more reason for care to be taken that the planning process was transparent and inclusive.

In his reply to Cllr Todd, Vincent Lacovara adds:

‘We are aware that the agent for the appellant worked at the London Borough of Hounslow up until 2015. It is not for the Council to object to any agent working on behalf of the appellant and it will not alter how the appeal scheme is processed by the authority.’

Local band becomes youngest ever to play Glastonbury

Image above: Askew Band at Glastonbury; Photograph via Instagram @askewband

Askew Band perform at Glastonbury after social media campaign

A rock band of young local musicians has made headlines by becoming the youngest group ever to grace the stage of Glastonbury Festival. Askew, made up of Eli Crossley, Alfie Lewis, Freddie Wormleighton, Jay Guru-Murthy, and Will Ponds, aged 15 and 16, performed at the festival on Friday (23 June), in a weekend which included Sir Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, and the Arctic Monkeys.

Having spent the last seven years performing in small venues with their parents as the primary audience, Askew‘s inclusion at Glastonbury came about due to a chance remark by frontman Eli Crossley, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

During an interview on BBC Breakfast earlier this year, Eli mentioned his mother’s charity’s technological invention the Smart Suit, which when developed would help restore arm function in children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, speculating off the cuff that the suit could make his dream of performing at Glastonbury a reality.

His comment gained traction on social media through a viral campaign under the hashtag #GetTheLadIn. This grassroots movement caught the attention of Island Records’ Jon Turner, who happened to be in the audience for Askew‘s performance at a local school talent show.

Impressed by their potential, Jon contacted Glastonbury Festival organiser Emily Eavis, urging her to consider including the young band in the lineup. After reviewing a video recording of Askew‘s act, Emily was convinced.

Askew’s main influences are Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys and the band kicked off with Supersonic. The 30 minute set of a mixture of covers and original music received a rapturous reception from the festival goers on the Rabbit Hole stage.

Above: Tweet by BBC Breakfast showing Askew’s performance at Glastonbury

“Full of love” says Eli’s mum Emily Reuben

Emily Reuben, Eli’s mother, is one of the co-founders of Duchenne UK which funds research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She was awarded an OBE for her work in the recent King’s Birthday Honours List. Emily told The Chiswick Calendar:

I’ve been to Glastonbury a few times before and it’s quite a different experience going with a band because for a couple of hours before your set you’re just back stage getting ready. The boys we’re quite chilled out up until that point and then they started to get really nervous, then I started to get really nervous… so when they came on I was full of love and when they started playing they were absolutely brilliant.

“I think the best moment for me was when Eli said ‘Hello Glastonbury!’ It’s every musician’s dream isn’t it? So the fact I was there to hear my son say that was quite extraordinary.”

The band were rubbing shoulders with other famous musicians while at the festival, with Emily saying Eli fist-bumped Stormzy and ended up on the Park Stage stage for Max Richter, “He had a really lovely conversation with him” Emily added.

Reflecting on the unexpected turn of events, Eli told BBC Breakfast last week.

“I kind of out of the blue said my dream was to play at Glastonbury, but now we are playing at Glastonbury on Friday at half five.”

Following their performance, Askew Band were featured on the BBC’s 15 best moments of Glastonbury, which Emily described as “really epic”.

Mother and children found dead in Hounslow flat were murdered say Police

Image above: Left to right: Dawid Wlodarczyk, Monika Wlodarczyk, Maja Wlodarczyk and Michal Wlodarczyk; Photograph Metropolitan Police

Police conclude that Dawid, Maja and their mother Monika were murdered 

A mother and her children who were found dead in Hounslow were murdered, the Metropolitan Police have concluded.

Dawid Wlodarczyk, three, suffered multiple stab injuries and Maja, 11, a knife wound to the heart, according to post-mortem examinations. Their mother Monika Wlodarczyk, 35, was also found by the post mortem examination to have been subjected to multiple sharp force injuries.

The family were found dead along with Monika’s partner Michal Wlodarczyk, 39, at the flat in Staines Road, Bedfont, on 16 June, after Maja’s school called police when she had not attended since 12 June and the family had not replied to messages.

The cause of death for Mr Wlodarczyk was given as sharp force injuries to the neck. The force said they are not able to provide further details on his death at this stage.

“Unimaginably difficult time” for victims’ family

It is not yet known on what date the family died. Inquests were opened and adjourned on 20 June at West London Coroner’s Court.

Detective Chief Inspector Linda Bradley, who is leading the investigation, said:

“Specialist detectives continue to investigate the circumstances which led to this tragic incident.

“We are continuing to support family members at this unimaginably difficult time, and we thank the local community for their understanding in recent days whilst we conducted enquiries at the scene.

“The situation remains that we are not currently seeking anybody else in connection with the incident.”

Heathrow avoids summer of “disruption, delays and cancellations”, as security staff accept ‘substantial’ pay offer

Image above: a plane taking off from Heathrow Airport; library image

Workers receive up to 17.5% pay rise following negotiations with Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has avoided a summer of “disruption, delays and cancellations” after its security workers voted to accept an improved pay offer.

Over 2,000 security officers at Heathrow Terminal 3, 5, and Campus Security, responsible for checking all airside workers and vehicles, had planned to stage a total of 31 days of strike action throughout the summer. But, following negotiations, Heathrow made a revised offer that was ultimately accepted by members of Unite – the union representing Heathrow security staff.

The new deal includes a substantial pay increase for the security officers, ranging from 15.5% to 17.5% depending on their pay banding position. The agreement stipulates a 10% raise to all basic salary, shift pay, and allowances, effective from January. In addition, there will be an additional 1.5% pay increase starting in October 2023.

The deal also addresses other important issues, such as spot rates, salary ranges, formal pay progression, and an inflation-based increase of at least 4% in 2024.

The agreement, according to Unite, brings about significant improvements in workers’ rights at Heathrow Airport. It marks the end of direct deployment, a practice where employees could be shifted between terminals without warning. The removal of agency workers from security roles will also be implemented promptly, according to the deal. Maternity pay will be improved, and there will be an increase in paternity pay as well.

Image above: Security staff at Heathrow, Heathrow Terminal 5

Pay deal demonstration Unite’s power to improve worker’s pay and conditions, says Union’s General Secretary

Speaking after announcing the pay offer was accepted on Friday (23 June), Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham hailed the resolution as a hard-fought victory:

“The pay deal at Heathrow is a further demonstration of how Unite’s complete focus on jobs, pay, and conditions is having direct benefits for its members.”

Wayne King, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer, acknowledged the pivotal role played by the union’s representatives and members in securing an improved offer from Heathrow. He said:

“The solidarity and dedication of Unite’s reps and members was fundamental in ensuring HAL returned to the negotiating table with an improved offer.’’

Planned strike dates included 24-25 and 28-30 June, 14-16, 21-24, and 28-31 July, as well as 4-7, 11-14, 18-20, and 24-27 August.

Many passengers had been concerned about the potential impact on their travel plans.

WildChiswick – Wildlife photography competition

Image above: Vixen with cub in the back garden; photograph Mark Lawson

Celebrating Chiswick’s photogenic wildlife

One of the things people find most attractive about living in ‘leafy Chiswick’ is its greenness. I remind myself of this grimly every time I scrub the copious amount of bird excrement off my car of a morning and pick up the scattered remains of last night’s takeaway enjoyed by the foxes.

We are privileged to have so much interesting wildlife around, my battles with them notwithstanding, and Joanne Gilbert of WildChiswick is running a wildlife photography competition in association with the Chiswick Flower Market, to celebrate it.

“Chiswick has so many lovely green spaces where we can all enjoy nature.  We thought it would be a great idea to have people share their sightings with us and the rest of Chiswick” says Jo.

Images above: Fox cubs in the back garden; Mark Lawson

Open to all ages until 13 August

The competition is open to all ages and there is no entry fee. You do not need to be a professional photographer: you can snap away on your camera or your phone.

“We’re looking for pictures that capture and celebrate the biodiversity of our neighbourhood and what it means to you” she says.

The competition is open for entries until Sunday 13 August 2023. Photographs taken this year from 1 January 2023 onwards are eligible.  There are six categories: mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and plants, as well as a children’s section for ages 16 and under.

Entries must be submitted electronically at Images should be accompanied by a short paragraph on the subject of the photograph and why you were drawn to it.

Images above: Close-ups of a riverside hedgerow in autumn; photographs Anna Kunst

Raising public awareness of the biodiversity in our gardens, parks and rivers

Snappy Snaps have offered a prize for the overall winner. The runners-up and winners of each category, along with the overall winner will be announced in early September. The judges will be drawn from “a range of local people with an interest in Chiswick and its natural environment” says Jo.

WildChiswick is a not-for-profit community group established in 2021 which works with local people within Hounslow Borough to help maintain and improve habitats for urban wildlife in gardens and green spaces.

Examples of the work they do include installing swift boxes, drilling holes in fences for hedgehogs and working with schools and community groups to build wildlife-friendly features such as ponds and hibernacula. They also organise speaker events to help raise public understanding of the wildlife in our local gardens, parks and rivers.

Image above: Swans on the River Thames at Chiswick; photograph Anna Kunst

Talk by wildlife photographer Andy Sands, Wednesday 28 June

Andy Sands, naturalist, wildlife photographer and owner of the Chiswick Camera Shop, will be talking about photographing the natural world on Wednesday 28 June at Christ Church, Turnham Green at 7pm. The event is free, but to ensure entry please register at

Andy has had an interest in the natural world since childhood and is a keen wildlife photographer. His work has been published in magazines and wildlife books, including a recent eight page spread in the National Geographic Magazine.

You can read a profile of him here: Andy Sands, Chiswick Camera Centre, Wildlife Photographer

Images above: Wildlife photography by Andy Sands

See more of Andy’s wildlife photography on his website:

Chiswick Camera Centre is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme offering discounts to our subscribers. See Andy’s current Club Card offer here:

Chiswick Camera Centre Club Card offer.

Chiswick wildlife photographer featured in National Geographic

Image above: Andy Sands showing off his article in National Geographic

The beauty of slime molds

Andy Sands, naturalist, wildlife photographer and owner of the Chiswick Camera Shop, has had his work recognised by National Geographic magazine.

Andy has had an interest in the natural world since childhood and is a keen wildlife photographer. His work has been published in many magazines and wildlife books and on calendars and cards, but National Geographic is the epitome of recognition for a wildlife photographer.

The seven-page spread in May’s edition featured not polar bears on diminishing ice floes or rutting deer in Richmond Park but something far more unusual and specialist: slime molds.

Slime molds, for the uninitiated, are neither animal, vegetable nor fungus, but protozoa which spend most of their lives as single cell structures.

Why photograph them? “They are very attractive looking structures” says Andy, who finds them fascinating.

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

More to the point, how does one photograph them, since most are only about a millimetre tall?

“It’s only very recently that modern camera development has made it possible to photograph them. It takes quite specialist macro lenses.”

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

They have been his passion for the past couple of years.

“You find them in the same place as fungi and you have to look at them 1000 x resolution under a microscope. There are over 1,000 named species. I have some very specialist and expensive books I look them up in to identify them.”

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

What function does a slime mold (though not really a mould at all) have? Quite an important one, it turns out. In their single cell form they feed on bacteria and aid decomposition.

Meanwhile they are just strangely beautiful. To read the National Geographic article you need to subscribe, but those who don’t mind paying to read it can find it here: National Geographic, Andy Sands feature

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

Andy’s talk on wildlife photography, Wednesday 28 June

Andy has photographed all sorts of wildlife from slime molds to rutting deer, with every sort of British small mammal, bird and insect along the way. He will be talking about wildlife photography at Christ Church, Turnham Green on Wednesday 28 June at 7pm. The event is free, but to ensure entry please register at

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

WildChiswick photography competition

Andy is judging the WildChiswick photography competition, which runs until 13 August 2023. A new competition, run for the first time this year, entry is free and there are six categories: mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and plants, as well as a children’s section for ages 16 and under.

“Chiswick has so many lovely green spaces where we can all enjoy nature” says organiser Joanne Gilbert.

“We thought it would be a great idea to have people share their sightings with us and the rest of Chiswick.”

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New bid for monthly street food market in Chiswick

Image above: Richard Johnson on Dragons Den

Comments on application can be made up until Sunday (2 July)

A second application to set up a monthly street food market in the centre of Chiswick has been sent to Hounslow Council.

Richard Johnson applied for a licence in March but was turned down. He is now applying again to run the event on the fourth Sunday of the month. After the Chiswick Flower Market was introduced on the first Sunday, the Antiques and Vintage market on the second Sunday and the Chsiwick Cheese Market on the third Sunday, many people in Chiswick have wondered whether there would be something to attract people to the High Rd on the fourth Sunday.

Richard says the Licensing Panel rejected the plan for the market when he applied in March due to ‘a couple of technicalities’.

The original bid attracted 12 objections and three comments in favour. Much of the opposition to his proposal suggested it would be unfair competition for existing cafes and restaurants in the area which have to pay business rates on property.

Supporters of the application say that, like other markets, a street food market would boost footfall on the High Road, benefitting all traders.

The market, if approved would have 64 pitches from 137 to 209 Chiswick High Road, in the area known as Old Market Place.

Mr Johnson is a journalist and entrepreneur in the field of street food markets. Earlier this year he appeared on Dragons’ Den but failed to persuade any of the dragons to back his street food related idea.

Conservative Councillor Joanna Biddolph led opposition the previous application, claiming it would take business away from Chiswick’s bricks and mortar businesses.

Comments on the application can be made to up until this Sunday (2 July).

Petros Singers 40th anniversary concert

Image aboe: Petros Singers on the steps of St Geroge’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, 2018

Forty years of singing secular and sacred choral music

The Petros Singers are holding a special 40th anniversary concert on Saturday 1 July at St Peter’s Church in Hammersmith. The concert will include the world premiere of a work they have specially commissioned from award-winning composer and west-London resident, Kerensa Briggs.

Petros Singers describe themselves as ‘West London’s leading amateur chamber choir’. They perform a wide variety of music, ‘from baroque to contemporary, from large scale works to exquisite miniatures – placing particular emphasis on vibrant and communicative singing.’

Their repertoire is often idiosyncratic, they say, as they tend to eschew the more obvious canonical works to shine a light on forgotten masterpieces and rate choral treasures, encouraged in this approach by their Musical Director Richard Bannan.

Image above: Music Director Richard Bannan

High standards set by a succession of high achieving Musical Directors

Richard is a baritone, conductor and teacher, who since taking over as musical director in 2016 has conducted Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Handel’s Belshazzar and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, in addition to a wide variety of smaller works including a Tallis collaboration with The Marian Consort.

The choir has also hosted workshops with illustrious musicians such as James Vivian, organist & Director of Music at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and Rory McCleery, founder and musical director of The Marian Consort, which performs across the UK and Europe.

Richard is a Lay Clerk of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He began singing at an early age as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, before reading Music at Clare College, Cambridge where he was a music scholar. He has conducted for the Yehudi Menuhin School, where he notably conducted a programme of works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in front of the composer.

He has worked with a number of school choirs with reputations for excellence. Currently he is head of singing at King’s College School, Wimbledon, as well as pursuing a career as a soloist and consort singer.

Image above: Petros Singers taking part in a workshop – JS Bach Mass in B Minor led by David Bates,October 2022

Richard is the latest in a succession of ambitious and high-achieving musical directors. The group first came together in 1983 when some members of St Peter’s Church wanted to form a group to sing more secular works. They were joined by a group of like-minded singers from Ealing and, as the choir grew in size, they decided to change the name from the original St Peter’s Singers to Petros Singers to better reflect the more secular nature of the choir.

The choir’s first musical director was Chris Bracewell, a very experienced choral conductor. After a few years he moved on and Michael Emery was appointed as his successor, who led the choir until 2005 when his career as a senior producer with the BBC Singers took him to other places.

Michael was succeeded by organist Duncan Aspden, now Director of Music with the City of Oxford choir, who stayed with Petros Singers for ten years until summer 2015 when Richard Bannan took over. Libby Burgess, pianist, coach and artistic director well known to BBC Radio 3 audiences, has also acted as temporary musical director for a term.

Commissioning a piece of work by Kerensa Briggs

Kerensa Briggs

With such high standards, what could they do to celebrate their fortieth anniversary? They usually do four concerts a year, including both secular and sacred works, and although St Peter’s is their home base, they have performed in venues such as Saint James’s Piccadilly, accompanied by the London Baroque chamber orchestra, the Guards’ Chapel in Birdcage Walk and St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

They have performed two concerts in the presence of members of the royal family. How to top that? Or match it even? On a number of occasions the choir has given the first public performance of works either commissioned by them or composed with them in mind, so they decided to ask Kerensa Briggs to compose something for them and to say home to perform her work.

Kerensa is an award-winning composer specialising in choral music. She was winner of the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award 2014 and is a member of the ‘Illuminate’ women’s music project. She is currently Composer in Residence for St Louis Chamber Chorus.

Her music has been described as ‘poignant, ambivalent, quietly devastating music’ in the New York Times. It is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and BBC Radio Scotland by ensembles such as The Tallis Scholars and the BBC Singers, and has been performed internationally at venues including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel.

Image aboev: A Summer Landscape (1883) by Georges Seurat

The Passing of the Years: 40th-anniversary concert

The Passing of the Years: 40th-anniversary concert will feature the premiere of an exciting new work commissioned from Kerensa along with Jonathan Dove’s song cycle, The Passing of the Year, and some old favourites including Brahms, Chilcott, Pearsall and Rachmaninoff.

Petros Singers raises money through collections a their concerts for London Youth Choirs and they are delighted that LYC West and their director Olivia Shotton will be joining them for their 40th anniversary.

The Passing of the Years: 40th-anniversary concert is on Saturday 1 July at 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church, Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith W6 9BE. Tickets £20 / £17 concessions / £5 for under 28s.

Book tickets here:  The Passing of the Years: 40th-anniversary concert – Petros Singers

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Bedford Park Festival Open Gardens celebrates 40 years

Image above: Vivienne Pringle welcomes people to her garden in Bedford Park

Hollyhocks and ham sandwiches

The Bedford Park Festival finished on Sunday with the annual Open Gardens, this year marking its 40th anniversary. More than 300 people oohed and aahed their way through the shrubbery of eleven gardens open to the public to raise money for the Bedford Park Festival charities.

The first Bedford Park Festival Open Gardens took place on 19 June 1983, organised by Freda Darke and Gemma Best. Freda’s husband Leonard was then chairman of the Bedford Park Society and Gemma’s husband Andrew was a key figure in the first Festival in 1967, organised as a campaign to save the beautiful Arts & Crafts houses of Bedford Park, at that time under threat of demolition.

Image above: A selection of the Open Gardens photographs from its 40 year history

First event boosted by a mention in the Evening Standard

Proving that even then, Chiswick was something of a media village, they had managed to get the event covered by the Evening Standard and as a result the turnout and takings (£282.35) ‘exceeded all dreams’.

Then as now, the event ended with cream teas in the Church garden.

“People said the event had been great fun, partly on account of seeing the variety and delights of the gardens and partly because all the host-gardeners had been so friendly and visitor had a chance to meet people” wrote Gemma to Freda. “So it seems to have engendered a pretty good feeling of ‘community’ too.”

Images above: Fenja Anderson’s book Gardening in Bedford Park and a map of the gardens from a previous year

In keeping with the ideals of the first ‘garden suburb’

The Open Gardens was championed by gardening writer Fenja Anderson (1941 – 2020), who lived in Abinger Rd. She even wrote a slim volume on the subject: Gardening in Bedford Park, published in 1988 in association with the Bedford Park Society.

In it she wrote: ‘Much of Bedford Park was built on land once planted as gardens by a Curator of the Royal Horticultural Society. Its roads were laid out so as to preserve the existing trees. It became the first garden suburb and keen local interest in gardening continues today.”

Originally a fashion artist, gardening became her main passion; she wrote articles for magazines such as Country Life and the Good Gardens Guide, provided the illustrations for The Illustrated Garden Planter by Diana Saville and wrote and illustrated Lost Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll.

The running of Open Gardens was then taken over by Martin Landy and Jenny John, followed by Susan Porter and Louise Grattan and most recently by Carol Douglas, Margaret Kirkham, Justin Morris-Wyatt and Di Coia.

For the Golden Jubilee of the Bedford Park Festival in 2017 a Roll of Honour was drawn up for the gardens shown most often between 1986 and 2017. Louise and Patrick Grattan came top, who had showed their garden 14 times, followed by Tracey and Ian Hall, Louise and David Kaye, Kate and David Bowes, Sarah and Mark Radcliffe, Caroline and Clive Cookson, Ian Renwick and Chris O’Hare, Dottie Irving and Sheila Thompson.

Image above: A selection of the Open Gardens photographs from its 40 year history

A cottage garden vibe

Looking at photographs from the Open Gardens’ 40 year history you can see a lot of the owners tend to stay pretty much within the theme of the English cottage garden, with hollyhocks, roses and lavender much in evidence, but Carol Douglas told The Chiswick Calendar there is quite a bit of variety among the gardens on show. Four gardens were opened this year by owners who had not opened them before, one of which was influenced by Japanese and Scandinavian design.

Carol has been running Open Gardens with Margaret Kirkham for 13 years, joined more recently by Justin Morris-Wyatt and Di Coia, and she says over the past ten years or so it has become much more popular. People are always interested to talk to gardeners who do their garden themselves, as they like to pick up tips.

“We often have a range of small gardens done in different styles” she said.

“I really got into gardening when we had our first little garden and I loved going to see gardens.”

Is it hard to get people to take part?

“No, Margaret and I know a lot of people locally and Justin is a dog walker, so you’ve got that community feeling and you build up contacts.”

Images above: Visitors study the Open Gardens map; Cream teas in the Church garden afterwards; Some of this year’s garden owners attend a welcome drinks; Garden owner Raj Parkash proposes thanks to the Open Gardens organisers Margaret Kirkham, Carol Douglas, Justin Morris Wyatt and (out of shot) Di Coia; Photographs, Torin Douglas. 

“Like stepping into a Virginia Woolf novel”

Visitors to the gardens this year picked up their maps from the parish hall of St Michael & All Angels Church and ended their tour with tea in the Church gardens. Garden owner Raj Parkash  thanked to the current group of organisers publicly for the work they have put in.

One visitor to the gardens, Anne-Marie Fyfe, commented on social media:

“Glorious end to @BedfordParkFestival at Sunday’s Open Gardens: different dozen every time, this year’s ranging from Tuscan to Zen-like stillness, a beach-pebble abacus, a sky-high sequoia, Lady of Shallot rose, & this front path that felt like stepping into a Virginia Woolf novel.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Beford Park Festival Open Gardens with Tracey and Ian Hall

See also: WildChiswick – Wildlife photography competition

Del Segno – Theatre at the Tabard review

Image above: Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

Review by Simon Thomsett

Joseph Morley is a professional pianist turned Musical Director with many years on the clock in the music business.  He has turned some of that experience into a new play, Dal Segno, a glimpse behind the scenes in the life of a live band, currently showing at the Theatre at the Tabard.

Unsurprisingly, given the author’s background, there is a strong sense of authenticity here, particularly in the carefully drawn and subtly played older characters such as Vincent Shiels’ Brian, and Terence Frisch’s Ron, both of whom inhabit the seedy band room setting as if they had been hanging around rooms such as this for ever.

Image above: Max Kinder (Alex), Vincent Shiels (Brian) and Terence Frisch (Ron) in Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

The setting is 1979, backstage at a club, poetically referenced as an “amazing old venue” then, more realistically “a shed full of old flies” where old posters point to past glories and the dial predictably falls off the broken television in the corner.

Of the seven band members, the younger ones still hold on to a sense of purpose, of providing spiritual succour through their music. Max Kinder as Alex in particular (“Head barman who doubles on guitar”) is still misty eyed about the transformative potential of his art and Theo Watt’s bubbly young brass player is full of youthful joy at just being able to pursue his chosen career.

Image above: Theo Watt (Chris) and Terence Frisch in Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

The others who have been around a while are less sentimental: Frank Simms as Derek has discovered love and also another way of life in rural Devon far away from the grubby halls and uncertainty of his musician life.

Kevin Wathen’s Mike is a 70’s throwback, loud and sexist and prone to flashes of temper suggesting something going on underneath his bravado. Best of all, Adam Sopp as Adrian has a slow burning role, sitting in a corner and grumbling for much of the first half, his weary cynicism a cover for inner pain.

Image above: Kevin Wathen (Mike) and Vincent Shiels in Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

The cast is completed by Clair Greaves as a series of women, mostly hangers-on and wide-eyed admirers, often not much more than background presence in this male dominated world; she has confidence and presence but not much to do.

Director Julia Faulkner makes maximum use of the Tabard stage, using the full width on occasion to emphasise the distance between these apparent brothers in arms but then bringing them together in uneasy and even violent conflict in sudden shifts of tone which are startling.

Image above: Adam Sopp (Adrian), Vincent Shiels and Terence Frisch in Del Segno, Theatre at the Tabard

Although the narrative tends to drift here and there, for the most part the play is an absorbing and pleasurable insight into a world where the joy of playing music professionally can somehow be elusive, where regular deputising when a more lucrative job comes along is accepted practice and where a call for a much-needed rehearsal causes outrage.

“Some people would say we were privileged” says one character.  Indeed they would.  Dal Segno plays until Saturday 8 July and is well worth a visit.

Photographs by Charles Flint.

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.



Hammersmith Hospital taking steps to prevent further Traveller “incursions”

Image above: Hammersmith Hospital

£60,000 allocated to bolster security at Hammersmith Hospital and Wormwood Scrubs

Hammersmith Hospita in west London is taking steps to enhance security and prevent further “incursions” by Travellers.

The hospital has been the site of multiple “incursion” incidents, leading to the eviction of Travellers who occupied the staff car park on three separate occasions in March, April, and May of this year – where staff reported they were regularly intimidated and had their vehicles vandalised.

In response to these incidents, Hammersmith & Fulham Council has allocated a £60,000 budget to bolster security measures not only at the hospital but also at the adjacent Wormwood Scrubs. The planned enhancements include the installation of height restriction barriers in car parks, bollards around green space entrances, and reinforced fencing in specific areas.

The Wormwood Scrubs committee recently approved the proposed security plans unanimously during a meeting held on Wednesday, 21 June. Hospital officials assured attendees that the implementation of height restriction barriers would not inconvenience staff, patients, or emergency vehicles.

Andrew Dawson, Deputy Head of Facilities at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, emphasised the importance of collaboration between the hospital and local authorities to prevent future disruptions. He said:

“We are continuing to work with the local authority on plans to prevent future disruption for staff and patients who use the North car park at Hammersmith Hospital. This includes installing additional barriers and extending our CCTV so we can improve our monitoring of the space.”

Image above: A Traveller site elsewhere; library image

Travellers rights group criticises proposals

As part of the proposed security measures, the hospital will also improve its CCTV system to better monitor any potential return of Travellers. The Council say these efforts aim to strike a balance between ensuring the safety and convenience of hospital personnel and patients while addressing the concerns and accommodation needs of the Traveller community in the borough.

But the proposed security measures have drawn criticism from the Traveller community and Travellers’ rights groups, who argue that the lack of legal encampments in the borough leaves them with limited options. Ilinca Diaconescu, policy and campaigns coordinator of London Gypsies and Travellers, said:

“In Hammersmith and Fulham, and London more widely, there are currently no transit sites or stopping places. This means that families who are traveling are often forced to stop in unsafe and unsuitable places.”

Diaconescu further urged the local authority to consider alternative approaches, such as negotiated stopping, which would allow for mutually agreed-upon locations with adequate facilities and waste disposal for nomadic Gypsies and Travellers.

Provision for Gypsies and Travellers, sites where they can legally camp, has dwindled since legal protections for their sites were removed in 1994.

Humanitarian aid statue proposed for Gunnersbury Park

Image above: Gunnersbury Park statue visualisation; Photograph via Gunnersbury Park

Tribute to the sacrifices and achievements of humanitarian workers

Gunnersbury Park is considering a proposal to build a memorial sculpture to honour Humanitarian Aid. The sculpture would pay tribute to the sacrifices and achievements of humanitarian workers. The management of the park is actively seeking input from the community to gauge support for proposal.

The idea of establishing the first permanent memorial for humanitarian workers has garnered positive feedback from both Hounslow and Ealing Councils. The proposed memorial is located close to the Round Pond.

London-born artist Michael Landy, known for his thought-provoking works such as Breakdown in 2001 and Acts of Kindness in 2011, has been commissioned for the project. Collaborating with the Committee and CAS*C, Landy has developed a design that aims to create an “immersive experience”, inviting visitors to interact and engage with the artwork. If approved, this will be Landy’s first publicly sited work.

Image above: A rendering of the memorial site; Photograph via Gunnersbury Park

Gunnersbury Park hopes to host Humanitarian Day after memorial installed

Gunnersbury Park envisions not only the installation of the memorial sculpture but also hosting the annual World Humanitarian Day memorial event, previously held at Westminster Abbey. By relocating the event to Gunnersbury Park, the park hopes to foster a series of linked events and outreach programs that promote the messages of humanitarian work and encourage local residents to learn more about this vital cause.

Previous proposals for the sculpture’s placement at Kenwood and Manchester were not successful, leading to Gunnersbury Park emerging as the favoured site. To gather feedback and ensure community involvement, Gunnersbury Park Museum organised a consultation meeting on Saturday (24 June) from 2.00pm to 3.00pm giving residents chance to discuss and share their perspectives on the proposed memorial.

Gunnersbury Park told The Chiswick Calendar resident’s feedback was still being compiled and over the coming month they will continue to consult with residents to ensure the proposal aligns with the wishes of the community.

To take part in Gunnersbury Park’s consultation questionnaire click here.

RMT announces more train strikes in July

Image above: A SWR train at Chiswick Station

Strikes to take place on 20, 22 and 29 July

The RMT union has declared another round of strike action, lasting three days, in its ongoing dispute over pay with 14 train operating companies. The strike is scheduled for 20, 22, and 29 July and commuters can expect continued disruptions even after the strike days.

The most significant impact is expected to be felt by South Western Railway (SWR), which services Chiswick Station and Gunnersbury Station, where a considerable number of drivers are members of the RMT union instead of ASLEF. The majority of the approximately 20,000 workers participating in the strike nationwide will include guards, train managers, and station staff.

During previous industrial action, the company had to implement a drastically reduced timetable, resulting in fewer serviced stations and restricted operating hours. Consequently, the strikes are anticipated to pose challenges for individuals travelling to the fourth and fifth Ashes tests, as well as golf’s Open Championship.

The RMT union is demanding a pay increase in line with inflation, while employers have proposed a backdated increase of 5% and an additional rise of 4% subject to changes in working practices.

Image above: RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch

Government accused of “shackling” rail companies to prevent them from settling dispute

The RMT membership voted in May to continue industrial action for another six months, further prolonging the ongoing dispute.

Expressing his frustration, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“This latest phase of action will show the country just how important railway staff are to the running of the rail industry. My team of negotiators and I are available 24/7 for talks with the train operating companies and government ministers. Yet quite incredibly neither party has made any attempt whatsoever to arrange any meetings or put forward a decent offer that can help us reach a negotiated solution.”

Mr. Lynch added:

“The government continues to shackle the companies and will not allow them to put forward a package that can settle this dispute. Our members have now voted three times to take strike action over the last 12 months – the most recent of which coincided with having the full details of the substandard offer from the rail operators. They voted by 9-1 to renew their strike mandate, and RMT will continue its industrial campaign until we reach a negotiated settlement on pay, working conditions, and job security.”

Image above: A SWR train at Chiswick Station

More strikes “unnecessary” says Rail Delivery Group

Responding to the union’s announcement, a spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train operating companies, said:

“More strikes are totally unnecessary. After a year of industrial action, all the RMT has achieved is losing their members more money than they would have received in the pay offers they refused to put out to a vote, despite having agreed to the terms with the negotiators in the room.”

The spokesperson added:

“We have now made three offers that the RMT executive have blocked without a convincing explanation. We remain open to talks and have repeatedly expressed our desire to give our people a pay rise. However, until the union leadership and executive are united in their demands and engage in good faith with the 30% revenue shortfall the industry continues to face post-COVID, it is difficult to move forward. Sadly, our staff, our customers, and the communities across the country that rely on a thriving railway are the ones suffering as a result.”

In response to the situation, a Department for Transport spokesperson said:

“After a year of industrial action, passengers and rail workers alike are growing tired of union bosses playing politics with their lives.”

Man appears in court after pickaxe stabbing at Central Middlesex Hospital

Image above: Willesden Magistrates Court

Matteo Bottarelli to appear at Old Bailey on Tuesday (27 June)

A man has appeared in court on charges of attempted murder following a stabbing incident involving a pickaxe at Central Middlesex Hospital in north-west London.

Matteo Bottarelli, a 43-year-old resident of Central Way, Park Royal, has also been charged with two counts of threatening violence with a bladed article in a public place. The charges come after two men in their 40s were attacked at the hospital in Park Royal on Wednesday (21 June).

Matteo Bottarelli appeared in custody at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Friday (23 June), wearing a grey tracksuit with a bandage around his neck. Initially arrested on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder, he was subsequently arrested on a third count following police investigations. The third person involved did not sustain any injuries.

Armed police were called to Central Middlesex Hospital at 13.18pm in response to the incident. Upon arrival, they discovered the two men with injuries believed to have been caused by a mattock, a type of pickaxe. Although neither victim is in a life-threatening condition, the Metropolitan Police have stated that one of the individuals may experience life-changing consequences due to their injuries.

Bottarelli was remanded in custody and will next appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday (27 June).

Image above: Police outside Central Middlesex Hospital during the lockdown; BBC

Visitors and patients placed on lockdown

Following the incident, visitors and patients at the hospital were briefly placed on lockdown while the police conducted a thorough search of the premises. Eventually, the authorities arrested a man outside the hospital. The hospital has since reopened, although a heightened police presence remains in place as the investigation continues.

The Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed that the incident is not being treated as terror-related. They said:

“The hospital was temporarily locked down but has now reopened. There is a heightened police presence at the hospital while we investigate.”

The London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, responsible for managing the hospital, reassured the public that services would continue as usual following the reopening at 4.00pm. They also tweeted a message to patients, saying:

“While our clinics are reopening, we may need to reschedule your appointment if we can’t see you today.”

In a statement on Twitter, the London Ambulance Service confirmed their presence at the scene, with paramedics, an air ambulance, and a hazardous environment team deployed to provide assistance.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay expressed his thoughts for those injured and affected by the incident and expressed gratitude towards the paramedics and first responders for their efforts in treating the victims.

No hosepipe ban for now… but use less water, says Thames Water

Image above: library image

Thames Water play down the prospects of a hosepipe ban

Thames Water have said a hosepipe ban is not yet on the cards, but have urged their customers to use less water as the hot weather continues.

London’s water supply is deemed to be in a satisfactory state due to a wet spring, but similar bans have already been imposed or planned in various areas across the country. One water company, South East Water, has blamed the ban on more people working from home. Their customers, on the other hand, have criticised the company’s lack of investment and a petition has been launched calling for a change of ownership.

Thames Water previously implemented a ‘Temporary Use Ban’, or hosepipe ban, across London and the Thames Valley from 24 August 24 to 22 November last year due to the driest July in 135 years.

While a hosepipe ban is not currently in place in London, Thames Water urged customers to take note of water-saving tips, such as using watering cans instead of hosepipes, washing cars with buckets and sponges, and limiting showers to four minutes.

Recently, a freedom of information request found that the leakage rate from Thames Water pipes is the highest for five years and the company will not meet its target to plug them this year. On average, the company loses 630m litres of water a day to due leaks in its infrastructure – which is almost 24% of the water they supply.

Image above: Visualisation of Thames Water’s Teddington Weir water abstraction infrastructure

Over 20,000 people oppose Thames Water drought proposals

Thames Water’s draft water resources management plan for 2024 outlines several projects aimed at finding new water resources for London and the south-east as droughts become more frequent. But the Environment Agency has reservations about the proposed solutions, raising concerns about environmental impact, including increased water temperatures and changes in river salinity affecting fish and biodiversity.

Meanwhile, a petition launched by opponents to Thames Water’s plans to siphon off water from the River Thames in Teddington and replace it with treated effluent – to help cope with droughts – has drawn over 20,000 signatures. The petition has gained over 10,000 signatures since national press covered the story.

The plans drew criticism from the Environment Agency, which has instructed the company to address its significant water leakage problem before resorting to sourcing water from the River Thames or Wales.

The agency has expressed concerns about the company’s leakage levels, stating that it leaks more water than any other water supplier.

While neighbouring counties such as Kent and Sussex have implemented hosepipe bans due to water shortages, Thames Water maintains that water resources in London are well replenished, with reservoir levels “above average”. Approximately 70% of Thames Water’s water supply comes from rivers, while the remaining 30% is sourced from groundwater.

Image above: A burst water main in December 2022

Wet spring has put London’s water supply “in a good place”, says Thames Water

On the prospect of a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks, a Thames Water spokesperson said:

“The wet weather in the spring has put us in a good place. We received higher than average long-term rainfall across London and the Thames Valley in seven of the last nine months. Our reservoir levels are above average for this time of year with London at 96%, Farmoor at 98% and ground water levels are mostly normal for the time of year.

“Water efficiency messaging is a key part of our business-as-usual strategy and following last year’s hot and dry summer we made the decision to start communicating with our customers from March. We have regularly shared a range of water saving tips via radio adverts, press alerts and customer newsletters.

“As the weather heats up, so does the demand for water, which is why we are encouraging customers to use water wisely. Customers with outdoor space use up to 50% more water on hot days (temperatures above 25 degrees celsius).

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Lime bike data reveals nearly 2000 fines issued in Chiswick and Brentford since launch

Image above: A Lime bike park parked outside of a parking bay in Thornton Avenue; Photograph via Facebook

Over 1,800 fines have been issued to users parked outside designated parking bays

The bike-sharing company Lime has released figures detailing the first few weeks of its trial scheme in Chiswick and Brentford. The data reveals that over 1,800 fines have been issued to users who parked their cycles outside designated bays.

With approximately 9,000 trips completed so far, the data suggests around 20% of journeys end with bikes being improperly parked, leading to what some have dubbed “Lime crimes”. This figure does not include instances where the bike was initially parked correctly but later moved by unauthorised individuals.

To facilitate the trial, Hounslow Council has installed 75 parking bays exclusively for hire bikes in the W4 and TW8 postcode areas, with plans to extend the scheme to the entire borough. These bikes are geofenced, which should prevent users from ending their hire outside of designated areas. Lime requests customers to take a photo of the bike in the bay after they finish using it. Lime reviews these photos, warns users if they have mis-parked, and issues fines accordingly.

The fines start at £2 for the first offence and increase to £20 for the fifth offence, at which point the rider is permanently banned from using the service. Lime clarifies that riders who park their bikes correctly but fail to take an end-trip photo will not receive fines for any subsequent misuse by other riders.

Reports continue to emerge about widespread antisocial parking, with bikes being left on pavements and causing obstructions even in the vicinity of designated bays. Lime conducts regular sweeps to collect improperly parked bikes, but the problem persists.

A number of Lime users complained during the service’s launch in Chiswick and Brentford, after the early upload of zoning prevented users from parking in designated parking spaces and receiving fines.

A spokesperson for Lime told The Chiswick Calendar that only a “limited number” of users were impacted by the botched launch and any “erroneous fines” were refunded to the affected riders. The spokesperson added that the figures, initially shared by Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Katherine Dunne, relate only only to accurate fines for non-compliant parking.

Image above: A Lime bike parked just across the road from a designated parking area; Photograph via Facebook

Council following instances of anti-social behaviour and vandalism “closely”

Councillor Guy Lambert expressed his thoughts in his weekly blog, saying:

“People tell me it’s a fiasco and a plague for ever more, but when I cycled back through Chiswick and Brentford this morning, everything was perfect – a number of them in the pens, all upright and none I saw anywhere else, except one that had fallen (or been pushed) over. We’ll be following them closely, and one of the traffic officers wrote to me to say:

‘While these measures are being implemented [modifications to overcome the recent hacks], we fully understand the concerns raised by such antisocial behaviour/vandalism. We are in close contact with Lime to address the situation.’ In the meantime, please report problems on FixMyStreet.”

Hal Stevenson, Senior Public Affairs Manager at Lime, expressed his enthusiasm for the residents’ commitment to active travel, reducing congestion, and improving air quality in Hounslow. He said:

“At Lime, we’re committed to safe and responsible parking in Hounslow and have made significant investments in the installation of bays in the area. We will work closely with the council to implement these dedicated parking bays, following a three-phase approach. Currently, we have installed 75 dedicated parking bays and aim to add approximately 270 bays overall.

“Each borough in London has its own unique set of parking rules, which is why we prioritise rider education on the best parking practices when launching in a new borough. Those who fail to comply with these guidelines receive a warning and a fine, and our ride data indicates that 80% of riders do not mis-park again after their first fine.”

Regarding the issue of bike misuse, including instances of unauthorised usage where bikes emit a clicking noise indicating they were taken without being booked through the app, Mr. Stevenson mentioned that they are aware of this limited problem. Lime is implementing measures to prevent such behaviour, with a hardware solution scheduled to be rolled out between August and September.

Ruth Cadbury warns over 10,000 households locally are likely to be hit by mortgage payment increases

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP in the House of Commons

Brentford and Isleworth MP says households could see increases of more than £5,900 in their mortgage payments

Ruth Cadbury, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth, has issued a stark warning regarding the impending financial burden facing more than 10,000 households in her constituency.

Her figures come from new analysis which shows a predicted rise of £5,900 in mortgage payments which will have an impact on 10,900 households in Brentford & Isleworth.

The warning comes as banks are withdrawing many of their existing mortgage deals as interest rates are increasing.

Data from Moneyfacts indicates that the average rate for a two-year fixed-rate loan has surged to nearly 6%, nearly doubling from the previous year. Additionally, the Resolution Foundation estimates that the rise in mortgage rates, following the disastrous mini-budget by Liz Truss’ government, will impact approximately 6.5 million households by 2026.

Economists have this week highlighted the potential for job losses and a severe recession. The latest economic growth forecasts indicate the UK is struggling to regain momentum, with a meagre projected growth rate of just 0.2% for the year.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP

Government’s handling of the economy has been “disastrous” says Ruth Cadbury

Ms. Cadbury commented on the analysis, criticising the Government’s handling of the economy over the past 13 years:

“The Government’s mishandling and mismanagement of our economy over the past 13 years is having a disastrous impact on people locally and across the country. Food prices are skyrocketing and now mortgage repayments are set to increase while wages and pay remain low.

‘‘This will have a huge impact on so many people, especially many first-time buyers and those living in shared ownership or leasehold properties who are already facing a sharp increase in their service charge and building insurance. I know that the mortgage hike will also impact many people renting locally who could see their rents rise as a result of this.

‘‘So many families locally are already struggling with increased costs. It’s clear the Government have lost control of our economy and cannot provide the security that people locally desperately need.’’

Ealing Council criticised by Ombudsman for leaving family in ‘unsafe’ flat

Image above: Ealing Council offices

Highrise flat had unsafe windows, mould and exposed electrical cables

Ealing Council has been criticised by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for leaving a young family in a 10th floor flat with faulty windows for nearly 18 months.

The homeless family had been placed in the flat as ‘temporary’ accommodation. The Council acknowledged the flat was unsuitable and had other problems of disrepair including leaks, damp, mould, and exposed electrical cables in May 2021 but it was not until October 2022 that they transferred the family to better accommodation.

Nigel Ellis, Chief Executive at the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“While we are mindful of the difficulties councils face – particularly in London – in securing accommodation, councils must ensure that the accommodation they do provide is suitable.

“In this case, not only was the accommodation not suitable, it was beset with disrepair issues.

“The family have told me of their concerns for their children living in a high-rise flat with unsafe windows and exposed electrics.”

The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council was not properly recording the actions it was taking to secure alternative temporary accommodation, which meant there was no audit trail for staff to refer to.

Ealing Council could not demonstrate the action it had taken to find suitable accommodation for the family. The investigation also criticised the Council’s delay in finding alternative accommodation for the family.

Nigel Ellis said there were 31 other households on its transfer list for temporary accommodation and he had asked Ealing Council to “consider remedying any complaints of injustice to those other households too.”

Kayak and canoe club by Kew Bridge organises Pride Paddle

Image above: Edge Progressive Paddling members stand with the progressive pride flag by Kew Bridge

Event highlights rowing group are “tolerant and accepting”

Edge Progressive Paddling, who promote themselves as a friendly and active kayak and canoe club based in Brentford, celebrated their second annual Pride Paddle event on Wednesday (21 June) along the River Thames.

A group of 17 paddlers paddled upstream to Isleworth at 6.30pm from Kew Bridge, where they posed for pictures before setting off against the tide, before returning to the riverbank and celebrating with a drink in a local pub.

Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar, Alex Whittaker, a senior volunteer at Edge Progressive Paddling, shared the history and significance of the Pride Paddle event.

“We started it last year to just say to the world that we are a tolerant and accepting club, which would encourage people to come along and join,” Alex explained. The event serves as a platform for members to champion diversity and showcase the club’s commitment to creating an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ people.

The club appear to be the first group of  local river users to hold such an event, so I asked Alex what difference he thought it made to fostering inclusivity and diversity within the paddling and river users community.

“I would recommend other groups to do the same because it’s just so easy,” he said, “All we are saying is look, we have these values, and there’s nothing more than that.”

Image above: Paddlers set sail onto the River Thames while flying the progressive pride flag

Sign up for paddling at Brentford Canal Festival

Looking ahead, Edge Progressive Paddling is considering introducing new activities to enhance the experience for participants. One of the upcoming events is the Brentford Canal Festival, where they will be taking part on Saturday 24 June.

Edge Progressive Paddling offers a range of activities and benefits for its members. From April to September, members can enjoy free Wednesday evening club paddles, where they explore the river in various directions. The club also organises regular pool sessions from September to March, providing opportunities for newcomers to learn kayaking skills and experienced paddlers to refine their techniques.

For an annual fee of £130, adults gain access to discounted rates on Edge weekend Meet-up Paddles, BCU courses and assessments, and FSRT courses. Members at the independent paddler level organise their own paddling trips with fellow members. Additionally, the club hosts an active sea kayaking programme during the summer months and a white water program throughout the winter months.

For more information about Edge Progressive Paddling and membership details, visit their website at or contact the Membership Secretary at

TfL unveil special edition oyster card for 20th anniversary

Image above: The special edition Oyster card; photograph TfL

Special edition card available in Zone 1, Visitor Centres and select Oyster Ticket Shops

Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled a special edition Oyster card in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the iconic smartcard’s introduction.

The Oyster card revolutionised travel in London, providing a convenient and efficient means of using public transportation for millions of people. To commemorate this milestone, TfL has released a limited edition version of the Oyster card, available for purchase at ticket machines located in all London Underground stations within Zone 1, as well as at Visitor Centres and select Oyster Ticket Stops in central London.

TfL say since its inception, the Oyster card has become one of the world’s most renowned transport smartcards, with over 125 million people buying one worldwide. By allowing customers to load money onto the card, the Oyster system streamlined the payment process for travel, making everything much more convenient. With the card in hand, commuters could seamlessly board buses, pass through ticket gates, and avoid the hassle of waiting in queues to purchase paper tickets.

Over the past two decades, refinements have been added to the Oyster card. In 2005, the introduction of daily fare capping allowed customers to make unlimited journeys without incurring charges exceeding the cost of an equivalent Day Travelcard.

Next, the Zip Oyster card brand was launched in 2008, catering specifically to concessionary travel for those under the age of 18. In 2010, TfL expanded the Oyster’s pay-as-you-go feature to include all commuter rail services within Greater London. Finally, in 2021, the introduction of weekly capping for adult pay-as-you-go customers eliminated the need for purchasing weekly Travelcards.

The influence of the Oyster card extends beyond London, leaving a lasting impact on transportation systems throughout the UK. The success of Oyster prompted the adoption of similar pay-as-you-go technologies, including contactless payment systems, in rail services across southeast England.

Image above: The special edition Oyster card being used at a Tube station; photograph TfL

“Oyster was a trail blazer for urban travel”

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said:

“We’re excited to be celebrating 20 years of the Oyster card as a world leading innovative way to travel. Customers have loved the convenience of pay as you go travel, and we are immensely proud to celebrate two decades of the Oyster card making travelling in London easier. It has cemented TfL’s reputation for being at the forefront of innovation and paved the way for the use of contactless payments on public transport – not only in London, but across the world.”

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport said:

“When introduced in 2003, Oyster was a trail blazer for urban travel, streamlining journeys for millions of Londoners who no longer had to queue to buy a ticket for each journey. It is admired across the world, inspiring and setting the standard for world-class public transport networks.

“It’s great to celebrate 20 years of the Oyster card, which demonstrated London’s innovation at its best and has kept evolving ever since then, to meet the needs of a modern, thriving city.”

Education Secretary visits Chiswick School, as Head of Music wins prestigious award

“It is wonderful working with such a brilliant group of students, staff and parents” says modest music teacher

Chiswick School welcomed the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, today (21 June) to honour the achievements of its teachers, with special recognition given to Zac Moxon, the Head of Music.

Mr. Moxon was presented with the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Silver Award by Sharon Hague, the Managing Director of Pearson Qualifications, and the Mayor of Hounslow, Cllr Afzaal Kiani. Students from Chiswick School and Cavendish Primary School joined in the welcoming the Secretary of State.

Zac Moxon, selected from thousands of nominations, received the Silver Award for Outstanding New Teacher in a Secondary School. His commitment to changing the lives of his students and providing high-quality lessons impressed the awards judges, as supported by positive feedback from parents, colleagues, and pupils.

Mr. Moxon’s accomplishments have now placed him among the shortlisted candidates for one of the 16 Gold Awards, the winners of which will be revealed and celebrated at a gala ceremony in London on 25 November. The ceremony will be televised on the BBC, with winners featured on The One Show.

Zac said:

“It was such a surprise to win a silver award and I am very honoured. It is wonderful working with such a brilliant group of students, staff and parents and putting music at Chiswick School on the map.”

Under his leadership Chiswick Voices Choir travelled to Oxford University, Somerville College, to sing in their Choral Contemplation. Chiswick students also take part in community events around Chiswick and Brentford.

Their Steel Pans appeared at Strand on the Green for the coronation celebrations, their rock band “The Q” has performed in South Acton and their Performing Arts Choir has entertained the crowds at the Chiswick Flower Market.

Chiswick School Head “delighted”

Laura Ellener Headteacher of Chiswick School said:

“We are delighted that Zac’s achievements have been recognised. In addition to Chiswick School’s  excellent examination results, the Arts and Music are a key part of life at Chiswick School. All of our teachers do an exceptional job, as do those across Hounslow and the country, and it is important to recognise this through events like these’

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan said:

“People go into teaching to change lives, and so many of us are lucky to have been shaped and influenced by the best of the teaching profession.

“These awards mark the exceptional contribution that incredible headteachers, teachers and support staff make every single day, nurturing the potential of our young people across the country.

“Congratulations to each and every winner and thank you for all you do for our children.”

Chiswick estate agent Harry Middleton swims English Channel for charity

Image above: Harry Middleton swimming in the English Channel

Channel swim raises over £2,650 for charity

Harry Middleton, a local estate agent and endurance swimmer, has successfully swum the English Channel to raise funds for two charitable causes.

In a journey which began on Sunday (18 June) at 8.00am, lasting 12 hours and 46 minutes, Harry braved “tough” waters to support Make a Wish and the Fine & Country Foundation.

Make a Wish is a charity which provides experiences for children facing life-threatening illnesses, giving them joy and hope. The Fine and Country Foundation, established by estate agents Fine and Country, supports charities which combat homelessness and poverty, providing essential support to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Reflecting on the gruelling swim, and the two years of training he endured in preparation, Harry told The Chiswick Calendar the journey had been “very tough” but was worth it in the end.

Images above: Harry smothered in suncream before entering the English Channel

“More of a mental challenge”

Harry trained rigorously for two years before making the crossing, and had to submit to a six-hour qualifying swim in water colder than 60°F (15°C) before he could even attempt the challenge.

“We signed up for it in October 2021, since then we have been doing about 16 hours in the pool [per week],” Harry said.

Over the past couple of years, he also participated in various training camps, mainly training in the pool at Virgin Active in Chiswick and occasionally at Ealing Swimming Club.

When asked how he managed to keep his energy up and his focus during swim, Harry said:

“You were getting fed during the swim. They were chucking food into the water and drinks into the water – it’s a pre-made carbohydrate drink and the food was just jelly babies… But it was more of a mental challenge after about seven hours.”

Image above: Harry swimming across the English Channel 

“We swam with dolphins…”

Harry shared some unexpected and memorable moments from his journey, recalling:

“We swam with dolphins or porpoises in the sea, which I thought was quite cool.”

After about four hours of swimming, putting him halfway across the Channel, the currents and sea conditions changed drastically with currents moving at 5 knots per hour in a north-westerly direction.

Harry and his fellow swimmers had to keep moving, to avoid being pushed back towards England, but effectively this was just keeping them in the same position.

The last six hours were further complicated by dense fog, limiting visibility to a mere ten metres. Despite these challenges, the team successfully completed the crossing, eventually landing in France.

Image above: path of Harry’s swim across the English Channel

Search for firefighter Iain Hughes called off

The dangers of Channel swimming were brought home this week by the loss of Iain Hughes, a firefighter from Sandwell, West Midlands, who was also making the crossing for charity.

He went missing after setting off from the Kent coast on Tuesday morning. The 42-year-old married father-of-two was accompanied by a support boat but he went missing later that day in French waters.

French and Belgian authorities, which included military helicopters and police and navy patrol boats, called off their search for him on Thursday (22 June).

Midwives receive exemption to Grove Park traffic ban

Image above: The midwife team at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trust; photograph Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Council relents after midwives from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trust receive PCNs

Hounslow Council has granted an exemption to community midwives from the recently implemented traffic restrictions in Grove Park.

Several midwives have received Penalty Charge Notices after driving to attend patients. The majority of the Chiswick area is served by the Community Midwife Team at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, which is responsible for postnatal visits to women and babies in the area as well as facilitating home births.

After receiving fines, members of the midwife team got in touch with Cllr Peter Thompson, who took up their concerns with the Council. Initially, their appeals were rejected, as they were not considered exempt and were classified under the same category as tradespeople and delivery drivers.

Cllr Thompson said:

“I was shocked to hear that the midwives were considering discontinuing their work in Chiswick due to the unaffordable fines.

“Community midwives play a crucial role in providing essential and often urgent healthcare to women and newborns. I am pleased that the Council has decided to include Community Midwives in the list of exempt groups, such as District Nurses, GPs, and Pharmacists.”

Hounslow Council announced it was introducing exemptions for carers when they decided recently to make the latest traffic restrictions permanent. They say exemptions for midwives were already planned as part of that change.  A Council spokesperson said:

“The issued Penalty Charge Notices were cancelled after direct representation by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital team. As part of the broader exemption for carers, we have now officially categorised midwives under the district nurses’ exemption.”

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny    ⭐- Review by Andrea Carnevali

Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary artefact that can change the course of history. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is out in cinemas now.

Where do I even begin to try to collect all the thoughts I have for this film and write them down in a way that can be objective, honest, truthful and detached?

To put it all into context, I was nine when I was first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. (You do the maths, yes, I am that old).

It was a film like nothing I had seen before and, arguably, like nothing I will ever see again. It became the action-adventure template, often copied but never really matched.

It pretty much changed my life, installed in me that huge passion I have for movies and film-making in general and set me off a course that would eventually make me become a film-maker myself.

In a way Dial of Destiny, is the end of a saga that began 42 years ago. With all that in mind, take this review with a pinch of salt, because it clearly comes from somebody who has a deep affection for these types of films, for this character and his stories.I would never trash it, but at the same time, because of what it means to me, I can be very demanding too. Indy deserves good films.

Yes, the previous outing, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I hated the fact that there were aliens involved, that the film had to resort to so much CGI and that it somehow felt slightly cold, almost as if Spielberg didn’t quite love the character as much as I still do.

But there were still things I enjoyed: some good set pieces, the humour and most of all Harrison Ford himself, who by then wasn’t just playing Indiana Jones to perfection, but he WAS Indiana Jones and, whatever the age, he was still able to pull it off.

Fast forward another 15 years, to this latest adventure, and I’m glad to report that despite Ford being 79 years old (!!!), there wasn’t a single moment in which I felt he was too old to play this part and he should just stop.

In fact quite the opposite. By the time the film ended I was ready for another adventure, something he repeatedly said would never do again.

He is clearly the best thing in the film. Whether old, or de-aged as young (an incredible achievement, which to me looked pretty perfect, more on this later), whether wearing his trademark fedora, using his whip, or even shirtless, whether looking indefatigable, or beaten up by the years (and his foes), Harrison Ford is the heart and soul of this film.

He hasn’t lost any of that charm and charisma and twinkle in the eye, which made him the star he is. He IS really the film and the one who makes it all work.

That is not to say that the rest of the cast is not up to the task: Mads Mikkelsen plays the perfect (and terrifying) baddie, with Boyd Holbrook and the huge Olivier Richters as the two ferocious henchmen.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (from “Fleabag” fame) is a great addition to cast and her chemistry with Harrison Ford is palpable. Whether I would like to see a whole film about her, I’m not so sure, but together with the young Ethann Isidore, they share some of the action and take some of the beatings too, subtly disguising the fact that Harrison is now 79 years old and cannot possibly do it all alone.

Overall, The Dial of Destiny is not only perfectly pitched for him at his age, but is also very cleverly done too, as it integrates action set-pieces around the plot, which don’t actually require him to do difficult and physical stunts.

I won’t go into spoilers at this stage, but we’ve all seen glimpses of him riding a tuk-tuk or a horse in the trailer, so I guess you can figure out what I am talking about.

I’ve only just seen the film and as expected I was so overwhelmed by emotions at every single stage, that I will have to watch it again to truly being able to talk about it with some distance, but the spontaneous applause at the end of my screening  reflected the general mood from the public, as well as mine.

There was almost a sigh of relief from everyone. It felt as if you could hear them saying “Thank God, actually, this is not the car crash those critics in Cannes had led us to believe”…

It isn’t of course on the level of the original three, but to be honest hardly anything is, so that’s hardly surprising. But the good thing is, it isn’t as clunky and mechanical as the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I guess some people might take issue with where the film goes towards the last act (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it, even though it’s easy to guess), but let’s not forget, this is a sequel of films where ghosts come out a golden box and melt Nazi’s faces, where people have their hearts ripped out of their chests, and where a crusader is still alive after waiting for hundreds of years. So realism is never meant to be part of it.

I was actually OK with the concept of the story and the search for the titular Dial of Destiny feels absolutely right for an Indiana Jones film, much more than those awful translucent skulls ever did a few years ago.

The film does play a little trick in the first part where it seems to take the way of the “Last Crusade” for a moment, during the heavily publicised flashback sequence back in the ’30s where Harrison Ford, aided by some truly incredible de-age technology, plays himself looking like he did at the time of “Raiders”.

WOW! The things they can do today! It makes me want to have a whole film with him looking like that. Seeing him fighting the Nazi once again, looking as young as we remember him is quite something.

I won’t hide the fact that I even got goose bumps when I heard John William’s iconic tune coming up for the first time. And so did the rest of the audience: there were a couple of spontaneous cheers, which stood as testament of the enduring love people have for this franchise.

Of course it’s hard, if not impossible, to follow in Spielberg’s footsteps, especially when it comes to such an iconic franchise. Overall director James Mangold does a good job, updating elements of the series, while retaining the mood and style of the originals in order to stay true to spirit of the series.

There’s a clear sense of affection, not just for the character, but for what came before. You’ll find lots of call-backs to the previous films, in fact all four of them. The explanation about why Shia LaBeouf’s character is missing is the most surprising and possibly the most successful in terms of storytelling.

Mangold has a lot to prove here: he tries his best to keep the pace moving, as these films often require, but I have to say, at times I found myself a bit confused by the action. Some of the set-pieces became a bit too chaotic and more than once I got slightly lost within the actual geography of things (“What’s going on? Who is where?). A scene underwater was particularly murky…

I know Spielberg’s film-making well enough to say without a shadow of a doubt that he would certainly have staged the action differently, making everything a lot clearer and possibly adding more humour into it, something which I felt was mostly missing in this film.

Maybe some of this goes to explain why, only 12 hours after watching the film, I’m already struggling to remember the details of most of the set-pieces. Maybe because most of them, however entertaining and well made, felt a bit generic.

The type of action we’ve seen many times before (often in previous Indy film too!): running on top of a train (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), insects in a cave (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), falling off a plane (endless films, but recently Uncharted), a chase on a tuk tuk (Octopussy) and so on.

Some of them felt even a bit inconsequential, like the above-mentioned bug scene, or the moment where Indy steals a FIAT 500, which you think would like to hilarious consequences, but actually is then dropped straight away.
Not to mention the last action set-piece which was probably the most underwhelming in terms of its execution (and also wrapped up a bit to quickly).

And talking about slightly pointless moments, however much I adore actor John Rhys-Davies, having him here playing Sallah again really goes nowhere and feels more like fan-serving than anything, and as for Antonio Banderas, his character is probably the one who suffered most in what must have been some real surgery in keeping the film under three hours.

Still at two hours and 34 minutes, there is no denying that the film is still long, but if you ask me, I would have watched another two hours anyway, so I am probably the worst judge for that.

However what does work very well here are some of the more emotional moments in the film, courtesy of Harrison Ford giving it his best. I’ve got to be honest, I watched the last few minutes through teary eyes.

In the end, while this is clearly not the perfect film by a long mile and it’s a rather superfluous entry in the Indy canon, whose only purpose seems to be to redeem the character after the previous entry, it is still a very watchable ride.

Fans of the series, and adventure films in general, will certainly find a lot to enjoy and hopefully will leave wanting more. I certainly did and so did my son who was jumping up and down the chair next to me, excited like I was at his age when I saw the first film.

Watching this one with him was particularly meaningful to me and made the whole experience even more worthwhile (hence my four stars.. . even though it probably deserves three and a half. It’s Indy after all).

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is out in cinemas now.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

Gunnersbury Park Refugee Week Festival celebrating Afghan and Ukrainian cultures begins

Image above: Afghan Day at Refugee Week Festival 2022; Photograph ACAA

Event to take place Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June in Gunnersbury Park

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association Refugee Week Festival has begun in Gunnersbury Park, lasting from Saturday (24 June) to Sunday (25 June) from 11.00am to 7.00pm.

This year’s festival will shine a spotlight on the cultures of Afghanistan and Ukraine, showcasing the vibrancy and resilience of these communities in the face of adversity. The event serves as a culmination of Refugee Week, an annual celebration highlighting the contributions and creativity of refugees, with this year’s theme centred around “compassion.”

The two-day festival will offer a diverse range of activities and entertainment for attendees of all ages. Saturday’s focus will be on Afghanistan, featuring music, dance performances, traditional Afghan cuisine, craft stalls, and engaging activities for children. Visitors can expect an immersive experience, delving into the rich cultural heritage that spans over three millennia.

Sunday’s programme will shift the spotlight to Ukraine, presenting attendees with a unique opportunity to explore Ukrainian culture. Live music, traditional dances, Ukrainian delicacies, and craft stalls will transport visitors to the heart of Eastern Europe. The festival aims to foster cross-cultural understanding and promote integration within west London.

Image above: Ukrainian day at Refugee Week Festival 2022; Photograph ACAA

Festival is “wonderful opportunity” to celebrate diversity

Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi MBE, Founder and Director of the ACAA, said:

“The festival is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate diverse cultures and to build relationships within our community in West London. The challenges facing migrants settling in the UK are immense, and events like this are part of the solution, enabling refugees to feel welcome in the UK and call it their home.”

As a family-friendly event, the ACAA Refugee Week Festival welcomes attendees of all backgrounds to join in the festivities. Tickets are priced at £15 for adults per day, £5 for children aged 5-16, and free for children under 5.

Attendees are advised that no pets, alcohol, or flags are permitted at the festival. While outside food is allowed only for dietary needs, a variety of food stalls will cater to diverse tastes. Limited parking is available onsite, and visitors are encouraged to plan accordingly.

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is an award-winning British charity dedicated to supporting refugees in the UK. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, a refugee from Afghanistan, the ACAA provides education, mentoring, and integration support while advocating for the rights of women in Afghanistan. Dr. Nasimi was awarded the MBE for his services to refugees in the 2023 New Year Honours by HRH King Charles III.

For Afghan day tickets click here.

For Ukrainian day tickets click here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar