Acton Photographer wins People’s Choice in British Photography Awards

Chohee Courtois holding her award at the 2023 British Photography Awards gala press wall; photograph Stu Williamson

A self portrait which tells a very personal story

Chohee Courtois, a portrait photographer from Acton, has been honoured with a national photography award at this year’s prestigious British Photography Awards gala at the Dorchester.

Open to every photographer based in the UK, the competition attracts thousands of entries; 475 images were shortlisted in 19 categories, showcasing the best of British photographic talent. Chohee’s picture won the People’s Choice award in the Self Portrait category.

It tells a very personal story. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and wanted to take a picture of her body, documenting it before surgery.

“Earlier this year, I faced the challenge of a breast cancer diagnosis along with other personal issues” she told The Chiswick Calendar. “This image was primarily to document my breast before surgery but also to symbolise the strength needed to overcome such a stressful period. It stands as a beacon of hope.”

In a gesture of solidarity, Chohee wishes to support others facing hard times.

“I extend my love and support to everyone in difficult circumstances, and I am deeply thankful for the support I received during my own,” she said.

She was diagnosed at Charing Cross hospital where she had excellent treatment, she told us:

“The diagnosis was good, and competent; the nurse was very comforting.”

Chohee had the surgery, a lumpectomy, at King Edward VII hospital.

She took her self portrait at her studio in Acton, using a tripod, and called it “Mountain before the cut”.

Chohee has also won awards for her pet photography

Describing the evening she received the award as “possibly one of the best nights” of her life, Mrs. Courtois said:

“I was already over the moon to be shortlisted for the British Photography Awards; however, winning the People’s Choice award left me beyond words. I’m eternally grateful to all who appreciate my work.”

She now intends to offer a limited number of prints of her award-winning image for sale, with proceeds going to a breast cancer charity, subject to interest. For details or to express interest, please contact her at

Professionally, Chohee usually takes pet portraits. She has won other awards before for her pet portraits, winning the 2023 International Pet Photographer of the Year Silver and Bronze Awards, and being chosen as a finalist in the 2023 International Dog Photography Awards. She has been commended for the emotional depth and technical precision of her work, capturing the unique personalities of her subjects and the bond between pets and their owners.

She is now looking forward to opening her new purpose-built studio, currently under construction near West Acton tube station.

Images above: Some of Chohee Courtois’ pet portraits

Visit on Instagram and Facebook

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UPDATED: Chiswick councillor condemns ‘intimidation tactics’ over Gaza ceasefire letter

This story has been updated

Conservative Councillor for Kingston Council, Jamal Chohan, did not co-author or endorse an email to UK councillors threatening to name them if they did not sign an open letter to MPs calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. This information was wrong on the Local Government Association website, which has since been changed.

As of 27 November 2023, the Local Government Association updated their statement on this story as follows:

“On Monday 20 November, the LGA issued a statement in response to complaints about the unsolicited email circulated by Cllr James Giles to 19,000 councillors across the UK. The email sought signatures to a letter to the Prime Minister and included a perceived threat that the names of councillors choosing not to sign would be published. The wording of that email implied that Councillor Jamal Chohan had co-authored both the letter and the covering email.

“Based on that wording, our statement identified Councillors James Giles and Jamal Chohan as co-authors of the letter and the covering email. Councillor Chohan has since clarified that whilst he co-authored the letter, he was not involved in drafting, nor did he endorse the wording, of Councillor James’ email.

“We have now amended the statement on our website and would ask you to note that Councillor Jamal did not endorse or sign the original covering email.”

Images above: Cllrs James Giles (left) and Jamal Chohan (right) 

“Quite clearly an attempt at intimidation”

One of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors has condemned what he has described as an “an attempt at intimidation” after thousands of UK councillors were urged to sign an open letter to MPs calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, with the threat of their name being publicised if they refused.

The co-authors of the letter were Kingston councillors James Giles, an independent, and a Conservative Jamal Chohan. Cllr Giles wrote to all UK councillors on Sunday (20 November) asking them to sign a public letter calling for a cessation of hostilities, which have seen at least 13,000 people killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza since Hamas’ attack on October 7, in which 1,200 Israelis were killed.

In the cover email drafted by Cllr James Giles, councillors were threatened that their name would be published should they fail to sign the open letter attached to the email. This email, which contained the alleged threat to councillors, was not endorsed by Cllr Jamal Chohan.

The message was sent to all 19,102 councillors in England and Wales, alleging that anti-Semitism had been “weaponised” to silence those who opposed Israel’s response in the wake of the 7 October attacks by Hamas.

“It’s quite clearly an attempt to intimidate councillors into supporting the letter” said Cllr Jack Emsley, who represents Homefields ward in Chiswick for the Conservatives.

He told The Chiswick Calendar the letter was “mimicking the Green Party’s attempt to do the same by publicising of a list of MPs who refused to back misguided calls for a ceasefire in Parliament.”

In the covering email, Cllr James Giles said:

“To be clear and stating the obvious, anti-Semitism is wholly unacceptable.

“However, this term cannot continue to be weaponised to absolve Israel of any accountability in how it has contributed to the ongoing tensions and its failure to comply with international law.”

“We will also be publishing the names of those who have been invited to sign but choose not to, in the interest of accountability.”

‘Threatening’ letter downplays “horrific levels” of anti-semitism, says Cllr Jack Emsley

Responding to news of the letter on X, formerly Twitter, Cllr Emsley said he would not be signing the letter and having his name published would be a “badge of honour”.

The Conservative councillor said signing the letter would have little impact on the Israel-Hamas war, but it would have an impact on is the local Jewish community, at a time when anti-Semitic attacks in London were at a “disgustingly high level”.

Cllr Emsley told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Aside from the fact that Israel has a right to defend itself following the worst atrocity committed against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, I won’t be signing the letter because it seeks to threaten elected representatives and downplays the horrific level of antisemitism currently being faced by the Jewish community in London.”

Cllr Emsley said Chiswick’s eight Conservative councillors were “completely united” in their stance on the Israel-Hamas war, adding that he was confident none of his colleagues would be signing the open letter.

Posting on X on Sunday, Cllr Giles said he was “so proud” of over 300 councillors from across the country who had signed the letter in less than a day, adding that the number was growing by the hour and signatories came from every party.

While highlighting that no constituents had got in touch with him to sign the letter, Cllr Emsley said he suspected most residents in Chiswick “want their councillors to get on with what we’ve been elected to do rather than pontificating about conflict in the Middle East”.  He added:

“That being said, a couple of residents did get in touch following my tweet to say well done for standing up to the threat to publicise names of councillors who choose not to sign. I think the vast majority of residents in Chiswick will utterly reject the threatening undertones of James Giles’ letter which, in many ways, seems designed to sow division and create a toxic environment for local representatives.”

The Local Government Association said the letter “went against everything it stood for” and said it was urgently investigating.

Israel has “absolute right” to defend itself, Hounslow Conservative Group says

Hounslow Conservative Group released the following statement on the conflict in October. Cllr Emsley emphasised on Monday the statement still stands. The statement reads:

“Hounslow Council Conservative Group is horrified and disturbed by the atrocities committed by Hamas against Israel, which have caused horrific devastation and created an escalating humanitarian crisis.

“There can be no justification for Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attack which is driven by hatred. Our thoughts are with all those innocent Israelis, Palestinians and others who have lost their lives, all those taken hostage, and everyone affected by this conflict.

“We welcome the Government’s £30 million aid package to provide food, water, healthcare, and shelter for the Palestinian people, who are also the victims of Hamas.

“Israel has the absolute right to defend itself and deter future terrorist acts against its citizens. We are also appalled by the huge increase in antisemitic incidents and attacks in London since the Hamas atrocity and urge everyone to oppose all forms of racism and not to allow the politics of hatred to spill over onto our streets.”

Chiswick Police launch crime survey to help them ‘provide a better service’

Image above: Metropolitan Police officer; library image

Anonymous survey will ‘help police to service Chiswick better’

Chiswick Police are asking local people to take part in a crime survey of Chiswick, as part of the ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ team’s plans to tackle crime in Chiswick.

The anonymous survey, which consists of 11 questions, asks about residents’ perceptions of the Metropolitan Police Service, especially within the Chiswick area. According to the Met, feedback from Chiswick residents will help them to improve their understanding of the community, which in turn will help them to improve their service.

Announcing the survey on X, formerly Twitter, MPSChiswick said:

“Your Chiswick Safer Neighbourhood Team are putting together a set of operations for various crimes over the next few weeks with a focus on vehicle crime.

“We’d love to hear your views on the link below if you can spare a few minutes!”

You can fill out the survey online at

Handel’s Messiah – St Michael & All Angels Church Saturday 9 December 2023

Image above: Wild Arts poster featuring Jesus Messiah, artist Jorge Cocco Santángelo

A version of the Messiah like you’ve never seen it before

Well, you may have. I have only seen the Messiah performed by a huge choir. My impression of Handel’s 1741 oratorio, which has become a Christmas staple and one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works, is chiefly one of mass and volume, with many voices belting out ‘Hallelujah’ in glorious chorus.

When I talked to Orlando Jopling, the founder of Wild Arts, the company performing Messiah at St Michael & All Angels Church in Chiswick on Saturday 9 December, he confounded my preconceptions by explaining the Messiah works perfectly well with a small group of musicians, and as for mass and volume, if you have the right combination of very experienced and professional musicians, you don’t need a crowd.

Performing it with just eight singers as Chamber music “brings it alive in a fresh way” he told me.

Image above: Orlando Jopling; photograph Lucy J Toms

Orlando is known as a conductor, cellist, artistic director, an organiser of festivals and serial founder of opera companies. He has worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and the Irish Chamber Orchestra among many others, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio.

He was principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Royal Orchestral Society for ten years and works as guest at the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet. Productions include Tosca, Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, Giselle, Mayerling and Coppélia. So it is fair to say he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to orchestral and operatic music. For the performance of the Messiah in Chiswick he will be playing the organ.

Orlando grew up with classical music. Both his sisters are professional musicians too. The three of them were immersed in the production of live music as their mother set up the Roman River Festival in Colchester,  where they lived.

The festival, which Orlando now directs, puts world-class performers in unexpected venues including nightclubs, sailing ships under full sail, disused bus depots, care homes, derelict Victorian halls behind pubs, multi-storey carparks, supermarkets, offices, churches, schools, in pitch black darkness, and on the street.

Images above: Ben Hancox and Cara Berridge of the Sacconi Quartet in rehearsals for the Roman River festival; photographs Lucy J Toms

Classical music that is ‘fresh, enjoyable, and available to everyone’

It was during the enforced career break created by the Covid pandemic that he came up with the idea of Wild Arts: ‘sustainable, world-class music and opera for everyone’. Now in its second year, the company aim to make music ‘fresh, enjoyable, and available to everyone, while spearheading positive environmental change’.

What started out as a small group of musicians playing in people’s gardens has become a charity on a mission to bring live classical music with world-class performers to new places and people who have not had the opportunity to experience that kind of live music before; working intimate settings, in places which have not had a tradition of classical music festivals.

They set up a new opera festival in Essex and toured summer festivals with productions of Così fan tutte in 2022 and The Elixir of Love by Donizetti  in 2023.

Wild Arts’ opera evenings prompted theatre critic Libby Purves to write:

“Wild Arts’ opera evenings are of a breathtakingly high, ROH-level musical standard – a gorgeous quintet of musicians and a most cunning choice of excerpts, mischievously well acted. I’d follow them anywhere.”

Now they are turning to their winter tour in venues where they know there is a ready-made audience for classical music.

St Michael & All Angels Church, Chiswick, is the first stop on a tour which will take them to Chichester, Bloomsbury and Cheltenham, finishing at the Tudor country house which is their base, Layer Marney Tower in Essex.

Image above: Essex Summer Opera Festival

Seeing children becoming involved in classical music is “one of the most fulfilling things we do”

Wherever they work they have a particular focus on working with schools, making a point of involving children, to give them the opportunity of experiencing music which otherwise they may not.

They invited 324 primary school aged children to the dress rehearsal of The Elixir of Love this summer, having prepared them with six sessions in their schools prior to the performance.

“It is one of the most fulfilling things we do” Orlando told me, “seeing a change in young people when they are introduced to classical music. They see it as something ‘over there’, something ‘nothing to do with me’ and it becomes ‘something that I am a part of’.

“Music in schools is in crisis. Anything we can do to get kids involved, we will. It is good for their confidence, for team-work, improving their brain development, their maths skills. I have had such joy and inspiration in my life from classical music I want to share it.”

Images above: The Elixir of Love, Left to right: Tom, Galina Averina as Adina, and Alex Jones as Dr Dulcamara; children in the audience; photographs Lucy J Toms

“London is new territory for us”

Wild Arts is in touch with a couple of schools in Chiswick, exploring ways in which they might work together.

They make the music accessible by telling opera stories in such a way that it’s “fun”, he says, making the story the focus, with the music as an “emotional underlay”. They sing in English, in small enough venues that the audience can hear every word, and they do not make the performances too long.

“People loved the immediate fizz. Even the cognoscenti. One opera goer who had seen Così fan tutte four or five times saw our production and told me it was the first time they’d understood it.

“London is new territory for us” he said. “I wanted to increase our profile”.

The performance of the Messiah in Chiswick will have no conductor, the focus will be on the individual musicians, who will be playing period instruments. Orlando will be playing a Chamber organ rather than the church’s organ, a small organ with a small keyboard which produces the right volume for a Chamber group.

Image above: St Michael & All Angels Church

Handel’s Messiah, performance details

Saturday 9 December at 7.30pm, St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Rd, W4 1LW


Joanna Songi and Sofia Kirwan-Baez soprano

Martha Jones and Cath Backhouse mezzo-soprano

Richard Dowling and Harry Jacques tenor

Tim Nelson and Ed Hawkins bass

Sijie Chen and Will McGahon violins

Kay Stephen viola

Reinoud Ford cello

Carina Cosgrave double bass

Joel Raymond and Oonagh Lee oboes

Chris Rawley bassoon

Sam Lewis and Ruth Ross trumpets

Tom Lee timpani

Orlando Jopling organ

Tickets £35 – £45 (£15 for under 25s)

Tickets available here:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Another bank set to close on Chiswick High Road

Image above: Lloyds – currently closed for refurbishment – is set to close on 27 February 2024

Lloyds Bank becomes second bank within a year to close 

Chiswick High Road is set to lose another bank. Following the recent closure of Halifax at the beginning of the month, Lloyds Bank has said its branch at 308-312 Chiswick High Road will close on 19 February next year.

Lloyds cites declining transactions by both personal and business customers over the past five years as the reason. Transactions at the branch fell by 47% for personal customers and 56% for business customers. Similarly, the use of cashpoint machines decreased for both customer types.

According to Lloyds, 89% of the branch’s customers use other Lloyds branches, internet banking, or phone banking. Only 163 customers were using the branch regularly each month in the period to July this year.

The nearest Lloyds branches are at King Street in Hammersmith (a mile and a half away) and Ealing (2.6 miles away). They say customers can also use the NatWest cashpoint opposite the Lloyds branch which is closing, at no cost.

Halifax announced in July that it would be closing its Chiswick branch because fewer people were using it. Only 79 customers used the branch regularly in the twelve months before March. Branch visits have halved since 2018, and ATM withdrawals declined by 43%.

The closure of high street banks is happening increasingly. Barclays shut its Chiswick branch last year and Santander closed its branch in Chiswick the year before. The trend is toward ‘Banking Hubs’. There is one on Acton High Street which now offers in-person services for several major banks.

The local Lloyds branch is temporarily closed for refurbishment, and is expected to reopen on 27 November.

Chiswick’s junctions some of safest in London for cyclists and pedestrians, new report shows

Image above: Library image of a green traffic light for cyclists

Chiswick scores well except for one junction 

Chiswick’s junctions are some of the safest in London for cyclists and pedestrians, according to a new report by the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

The group have released a new interactive map highlighting which of London’s junctions are most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. LCC’s mapping covers all of London for the first time, and can be filtered to find the most dangerous junctions by borough. The map uses the latest, recently released ‘Stats19’ emergency services response data for 2018-2022.

There is however one junction in Chiswick which makes the top ten list of dangerous junctions in LB Hounslow, and that is where Wellesley Road meets Burlington Road. There have been two people severely injured and three minor incidents involving cyclists there. Since these incidents, changes have been implemented to enhance safety at the junction.

The junction of Duke Road and Chiswick High Road was the junction with the highest number of collisions resulting in injury, but the majority of these incidents—six out of seven—were minor, leading to a relatively lower Danger Metric for this location, as per the report’s methodology.

In nearby Hammersmith & Fulham there are two junctions with a much higher danger ranking for cyclists. The junction where Stamford Brook Road meets Goldhawk Road, by the Duchess pub, has seen two serious cyclist casualties and nine slight casualties. The Weltje Road junction with King Street had three serious and six slight collisions involving cyclists during the period covered by the report.

The most risky spot for cyclists in London is at the junction in Tooting where Cycle ‘Super Highway’ CS7 meets several side roads. Even though CS7 has tracks for cyclists protected by ‘wands’, the LCC says the placement of these wands and the treatment of side roads are dangerous.

They are particularly concerned about the lack of measures to deal with the shortcut roads (‘rat runs’). In the past five years, 29 cyclists were hurt here; 11 of them were seriously injured.

Chiswick also scores well for pedestrian safety. None of the pedestrian junctions in Chiswick feature in the top twenty risky spots in Hounslow. But elsewhere in the borough there are three junctions which rank among the top 50 most dangerous for pedestrians in all of London.

One of the most risky spots is at Syon Lane/Great West Road/Northumberland Avenue Spur Road. Here, there was one pedestrian fatality, one serious injury, and three minor injuries there, making it the 17th most dangerous junction for pedestrians in London. A lot of these risky junctions are clustered around the A4.

Image above: Table showing data presented in London Cycling Campaign’s report on dangerous junctions – Chiswick junctions in bold

More work needs to be done to reduce casualties at Wellesley Rd/ Burlington Lane, says Hounslow Cycling co-ordinator

Michael Robinson, coordinator for Hounslow Cycling, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The London Cycling Campaign dangerous junctions website is a useful resource for people to see where the most harm is happening to pedestrians and cyclists and ask for action from politicians.

“The analysis weights fatalities over serious and slight casualties.  There is only one junction in Hounslow in the top 50 London list for cyclists, resulting from a fatality near the A4 west of Hounslow town centre in 2019.

“The situation for pedestrians in Hounslow is worse with three junctions in the top 50 London list for pedestrian casualties.  There is a common theme of collisions near the A4, a high speed road that severs local communities, with inadequate crossings at many locations.

“The tool can’t capture locations that are perceived as so risky that not many people walk or cycle there. Local councils need to plan out a network of places connected by cycle and walking routes.

“In outer London boroughs this is likely to be routes connecting town centres rather than long distance commuting routes.  The network can’t give up at places that are seen as too difficult, as this is likely to be where the most casualties occur.

“The 2019 Hounslow Transport did set out a plan for the Hounslow Priority Cycle network across the borough.  Cycleway 9 is the ‘backbone’ route and we hope to see increasing additional routes connecting with this.

“Responsible councils should be looking at collision data to plan improvements to roads. We did see changes to the junction of Burlington Rd and Wellesley Rd in Chiswick to slow traffic at the junction, and this location was one of the top 20 in the borough for cyclists casualties.”

Dukes Meadows footbridge wins architectural prize

Image above: Dukes Meadows footbridge, underneath Barnes Railway Bridge

Bridge wins prestigious prize at New London Awards

The Dukes Meadows footbridge, which continues the Thames footpath underneath Barnes Railway Bridge, has won an architectural prize at the New London Awards in the Transport and Infrastructure category.

The footbridge was opened on 13 January this year. It was built so walkers would no longer need to take a 500m detour inland to get around the railway bridge to continue a walk along the river. The path makes access inclusive to more users, providing better-lit and safer access to wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and those with pushchairs.

Image above: Computer generated image of the bridge before it was built; Moxon Architects

“Its impact and value far surpass its physical boundary and construction cost”

The New London Awards judges said:

“One of the Mayor’s £53 million Liveable Neighbourhoods projects, the bridge improves infrastructure, accessibility, safety and leisure opportunities in the Dukes Meadows area.

“It plays a vital role in an active travel network connecting recreation amenities with public transport links on the far side of the river.

“Like all properly considered civic infrastructure, its impact and value far surpass its physical boundary and construction cost. With climate resilience and lifetime maintenance at the centre of design, the community will continue to benefit from the project for the next 120 years.”

Image above: The main span of the bridge was brought upstream on a barge from Tilbury docks and floated into position at high tide

“A real triumph of engineering to improve access for the community”

The bridge is one of the lowest carbon and most environmentally conscious bridges in the UK, according to its designer.

The main span was brought upstream on a barge from Tilbury docks in July 2022. Engineers floated the structure in at high tide and then, as the tide receded, the span settled on its foundations.

When it was opened earlier this year, Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I think it’s marvellous, a real triumph of engineering to improve access for the community. It’s a real jewel in the crown for Hounslow and I am delighted to open it.

“I would like to pay tribute especially to Cllr Todd & Cllr Curran [former leader of Hounslow Council] for getting it off the ground.”

Image above: The footbridge was opened in January

Pigeons persuaded to move

There was a slight hold up in the opening of the bridge as contractors worked out what to do about the unforeseen problem of pigeons roosting in the girders of the railway bridge and messing up the beautiful new pathway below.

READ ALSO: Barnes Bridge walkway delayed as pigeons keep pooing on it

READ ALSO: New walkway underneath Barnes Railway Bridge opened

They came up with an ingenious solution in which no birds were harmed, the pigeons were persuaded to move along and roost above the water rather than the pathway, and the bridge was duly opened a few weeks later with a dance display by students from Chiswick School and the accompaniment of the school’s steel band.

Image above: Councillor John Todd at the opening of the Dukes Meadows footbridge

Another award could be on its way

The footbridge could win another award this week as it has also been shortlisted in the Infrastructure and Transport category in The Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards. The winners will be announced on 22 November at a ceremony at the Hilton Metropole.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ruth Cadbury goes against Quaker stance on Gaza ceasefire and supports Labour leadership

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP speaking in Parliament.

Brentford & Isleworth MP remains loyal to Labour leadership and does not support Gaza ceasefire amendment to King’s Speech, despite Quaker faith

It must have been a tough decision for Ruth Cadbury to decide not to support the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech on Wednesday night calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The MP for Brentford and Isleworth is a Quaker, a faith group which is committed to working for peace.

While her fellow west London Labour MPs Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) and Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) were among the 56 Labour MPs who defied the Labour whip and voted for the SNP amendment, she stayed loyal to the party leadership and supported the Labour amendment, which called for Israel to follow international law, to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

READ ALSO: Andy Slaughter and Rupa Huq vote for Gaza ceasefire motion, Ruth Cadbury abstains

Image above: Quaker meeting; photograph Quakers in Britain

“Violence is never justified” – Quakers in Britain

In doing to she went against the declared position of Quakers in Britain. On 18 October they joined Quaker groups around the world in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In their statement they said:

“Quakers believe in the sacred worth of each person and stand against violence in all its forms. As Quaker organisations, we mourn all lives lost and lament with everyone who is suffering. We grieve for those in Israel and Palestine who have lost precious lives. We pray with those waiting for the return of loved ones and those living under siege and bombardment.

“Violence such as this is never justifiable, and we insist that a ceasefire must be realised along with the return of all hostages.”

She also went against the position of many in her local Labour party who want a ceasefire. Hounslow councillor Lara Parizotto (Brentford West) resigned from the party on 18 October because, she said, they were “no longer aligned with my values.”

READ ALSO: Hounslow councillor resigns over Labour’s stance on Israel – Hamas war

Cllr Parizotto (who remains a councillor, though is now considered to be an independent) posted on social media last night:

“I was in the Labour Party for a long time. People can make excuses on why they can’t vote for something or sign an EDM [Early Day Motion]. But those are just excuses. Values can and should speak louder. Well done to the MPs that made the right decision for themselves, their residents, and justice.”

Image above: The Chiswick Calendar election debate 2015

“As a Quaker, I wouldn’t vote to go to war”

Ruth has spoken publicly about her commitment to her Quaker faith. During the General Election campaign in 2015 when she stood for election as MP for the first time, she took part in the Chiswick Calendar election debate with the incumbent Conservative MP Mary Macleod.

In the debate at the Tabard theatre, hosted by BBC presenter Sarah Montague, she was asked if she would always vote with her party and said there were two issues where she wouldn’t:

“I’ve already told my members and the party that there are probably, if it came to it, two issues where I wouldn’t vote with my party. I hope it doesn’t.

“One is on Heathrow. If the decision was to expand Heathrow, I would not vote in the lobby with that, but I hope I wouldn’t be in that position, I would hope I would be able to influence my party not to take that line.

“And the other, as a Quaker, I wouldn’t vote to go to war.

Sarah Montague: “Ever?”

Ruth Cadbury: “Ever”

Sarah Montague: “Under any circumstances?”

Ruth Cadbury: “Under any circumstances”.

Later in the debate she answered a question from a member of the audience, a former member of the armed services, who was concerned about cuts to the defence budget. Ruth said she was not the best person to ask about defence, she had spent her gap year in New York with the Quakers at the First Special Session on disarmament.

“My perspective on arms and defence comes from my faith and I’m not sure that I should impose that on other people. It’s fundamental to where I am personally, and I accept that I’m at odds not only with much of the country but also many people in my own party.”

“As an opposition and Government-in-waiting I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach”

Now she has found herself in the position of voting against 56 of her Labour colleagues supporting a ceasefire, and with the Labour Party leadership. She has published a statement on her website explaining why she voted the way she did. In it she says:

‘Over the past weeks I have received hundreds of emails from constituents about the horror unfolding in Gaza, and across Israel the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

‘I have listened to people locally during school visits, community events and meetings with religious leaders including with leaders from Hounslow’s mosques. From the many conversations I’ve had I know that everyone shares my abhorrence at the violence that we have seen over the recent weeks.

‘Having spent a lot of time reflecting on the situation since October 7, met many colleagues and those involved, including the Palestinian representative in the UK, I looked carefully at the tabled amendments to the Kings Speech and to the debate on the amendments.

‘On Wednesday 15 November I voted for Amendment R to the King’s Speech as it most closely reflected my views and my thinking, and how best I believe we should approach the horrific conflict that we have seen.’

‘Amendment R’ – Labour’s amendment to the King’s Speech – condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and called for the return of the hostages; it called for Israel to follow international law, to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, but it stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

It also called for an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the occupied West Bank.

‘I know that a large number of constituents asked me to support another amendment which I did not oppose’, wrote Ruth. ‘As an opposition and Government-in-waiting I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach which addresses these complex international issues.’

She finishes her message to constituents with this:

‘The events in Gaza and the ongoing attacks on civilians, the disproportionality of attacks, and the impact particularly on children, have been horrific to witness. I want to assure you that as your MP I will continue to campaign for the Government to do so much more on this issue.’

You can read the full message on her website here.

Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer told Labour MPs to abstain in the SNP amendment vote and made it clear MPs holding a frontbench position would be sacked if they backed the ceasefire call. Andy Slaughter resigned from his position of shadow solicitor general because of it.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Body of sixth person found after Hounslow house fire

Image Above: Channel Close, Hounslow. (Google Maps)

Body of person ‘unaccounted for’ since fire on Sunday evening found four days later

The body of a sixth person has been discovered following the house fire in Hounslow on Sunday night (12 November). Police have confirmed that five of those who died are from the same family, three of them children. The family has been named locally.

The children were called Arohi, Riyan and Shanaya according to tributes left outside their school by classmates. Their mother Seema Kishen was killed in the fire, while her husband Aroen escaped and was heard screaming ‘My kids, my kids’ outside the property, according to witnesses. Aroen also died from his injuries.

The ground floor and first floor of the property in Channel Close were destroyed in the fire, which was tackled by seventy firefighters and ten fire engines. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the home remains taped off by investigators.

Hounslow Council has been providing “assistance around the clock” for residents affected by Sunday’s fire. Some residents have had to move out of their homes temporarily. Leader of Hounslow Council Shantanu Rajawat said the local authority was “conducting welfare checks with those affected”.

READ ALSO: Residents moved out of nearby houses after fatal fire in Hounslow

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick School Choral Group sing at King’s College, Cambridge

Image above: Chiswick School choir Chiswick Voices at King’s College, Cambridge

Bucking the trend and keeping up the tradition of choral music

Students from Chiswick School had the opportunity to perform at a Cambridge University College on Monday (13 November).

Chiswick Voices, the senior choir of Chiswick School, sang at a joint service of Choral Evensong with King’s Voices, the mixed choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

Choral Evensong is a staple part of life at most Oxford and Cambridge colleges, many of which offer it in their chapels two or three times a week for students to pause from daily work pressures and reflect quietly.

Many colleges also invite schools to sing alongside the college choir for a one-off service, but this has become a “dying custom” over the past few years, says Chiswick School, as increasingly more schools in the country are moving away from traditional choral music.

Not the case at Chiswick School, where Head of Music Zac Moxon has great ambitions for the school’s choirs. In March, Chiswick Voices sang the whole of Vivaldi’s Gloria with Hounslow Youth Choir, even though the choir had only been formed in January 2022.

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

Under his leadership Chiswick Voices choir has also travelled to Somerville College, Oxford, to sing in their Choral Contemplation. They have performed works by John Rutter, Imogen Holst, Gabriel Faure, and Thomas Tallis.

Image above: Inside the chapel at King’s College, Cambridge

Daily rehearsals before school

Preparation for the evensong at King’s College, Cambridge, only began on the first day of this term, but students have been rehearsing daily before the start of school.

Mrs Emmett, the senior leader for the arts, who accompanied the students on the trip said:

“I was quite emotional during the service. The children have been so hardworking, often balancing choir rehearsals with a rigorous academic programme, and the beauty of their sound was such a testament to their efforts. I will remember it for a long time”.

Chiswick residents invited to join Chiswick Voices

Chiswick Voices’ next concert will be Faure Requiem with Hounslow Symphony Orchestra on 16 March 2024. For the first time, they are pleased to announce that the performance is open for local Chiswick residents to join in – a new venture called ‘Chiswick Community Choir.’

Residents are invited to join here.

Chiswick School says this is not the only cause for celebration in the arts. Mr Robinson and the Drama department have again been shortlisted for ‘Drama Department of the Year’ at the UK Music and Drama awards, and Mr Dubois, music teacher and Steel Band tutor at Chiswick has just been voted the UK’s Number 1 Steel Pan player by the British Association of Steel Bands. He was voted in by a panel of 200 of the UK’s best players and will collect his award at a ceremony next month.

If you want to hear more of Chiswick’s Steel Bands, come to Chiswick House and Gardens on Sunday 3 December at 12pm for an outdoor show, and at Chiswick School Hall (open to the public) on Thursday 14 December at 6.30pm for the Steel Band Christmas show.

Andy Slaughter and Rupa Huq vote for Gaza ceasefire motion, Ruth Cadbury abstains

Image above: Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury; Ealing Central & Acton MP Rupa Huq; Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter

Labour MPs ordered to abstain – 56 rebelled

West London MPs Rupa Huq and Andy Slaughter defied the Labour whip and voted for an SNP amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday night (15 November). Ruth Cadbury, who is a Quaker, abstained. The final vote was 125 in favour and 294 against.

In the debate on the King’s Speech Rupa and Andy were among 56 Labour MPs who voted for the ceasefire amendment, the most prominent of whom was Jess Phillips, who has stood down from the shadow front bench, quitting her role as Shadow Domestic Violence minister.

Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer had made it clear before the vote that MPs holding a frontbench position would be sacked if they backed the ceasefire call. Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter was the Shadow Solicitor General, deputy to the Shadow Attorney General until the vote, but has since resigned.

Sir Keir said: “I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand”.

His position is that a ceasefire would not be appropriate, because it would freeze the conflict and embolden Hamas. Instead, Labour, like the Conservative government, the United States and the European Union, is calling for “humanitarian pauses” to help aid reach Gaza.

Chiswick falls partly in Ruth Cadbury’s constituency of Brentford & Isleworth, partly in Rupa Huq’s constituency of Ealing Central and Acton and after the next election will be part of the new Hammersmith & Chiswick constituency. Ruth Cadbury is Shadow Minister for Prisons, Parole and Probation.

“We can’t go on like this”

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday (15 November), Dr. Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton said:

“The new Foreign Secretary called Gaza an open-air prison during peacetime, and while we all stood with Israel on October 7, what are the limits of self defence? A population forcibly displaced by donkey because there’s no fuel, communications blackouts.

“And when will the UK join France, Spain, the UN and all the agencies in advocating for a cessation of hostilities, because we can’t go on like this 20 hours a day.”

She later added on X (formerly Twitter):

‘Enough is enough. We need hostages home and the killing to stop. I called for a cessation of hostilities in the Gaza war in the House of Commons and will be voting accordingly tonight. #ceasefirevote #CeasefireNOW

Image above: Ruth Cadbury speaking in Parliament, 15 December

Ruth Cadbury explains her stance on Israel / Gaza

Ruth has posted on her website an explanation of why she abstained from voting on the SNP amendment and why she voted for another amendment (which was not passed either).

‘Over the past weeks I have received hundreds of emails from constituents about the horror unfolding in Gaza, and across Israel the West Bank and East Jerusalem’ she wrote.

‘I have listened to people locally during school visits, community events and meetings with religious leaders including with leaders from Hounslow’s mosques. From the many conversations I’ve had I know that everyone shares my abhorrence at the violence that we have seen over the recent weeks.

‘Having spent a lot of time reflecting on the situation since October 7, met many colleagues and those involved, including the Palestinian representative in the UK, I looked carefully at the tabled amendments to the Kings Speech and to the debate on the amendments.

‘On Wednesday 15 November I voted for Amendment R to the King’s Speech as it most closely reflected my views and my thinking, and how best I believe we should approach the horrific conflict that we have seen.’

‘Amendment R’ – Labour’s amendment to the King’s Speech – condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and called for the return of the hostages; it called for Israel to follow international law, to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, but it stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

It also called for an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the occupied West Bank.

‘I know that a large number of constituents asked me to support another amendment which I did not oppose’, wrote Ruth. ‘As an opposition and Government-in-waiting I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach which addresses these complex international issues.’

She finishes her message to constituents with this:

‘The events in Gaza and the ongoing attacks on civilians, the disproportionality of attacks, and the impact particularly on children, have been horrific to witness. I want to assure you that as your MP I will continue to campaign for the Government to do so much more on this issue.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

West London refugee charity celebrates Supreme Court Rwanda ruling

Image above: Workers and volunteers at West London Welcome celebrate Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling

Supreme Court ruling that Rwanda deportations would be unlawful comes as a huge relief to West London Welcome

West London Welcome, the refugee charity based in Hammersmith, has described their “relief and joy” after the UK’s highest court rejected the Government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying the policy had caused “nothing but fear” amongst the people they support.

Five judges on the Supreme Court unanimously upheld an appeal court ruling which found there was a real risk of deported refugees having their claims in the east African country wrongly assessed or being returned to their country of origin to face persecution.

Lord Reed, the President of the Supreme Court, highlighted damning evidence from the UNHCR, underscoring the failure of a similar deportation agreement between Israel and Rwanda.

In a statement issued after the judgement on Wednesday, West London Welcome said:

“For those seeking asylum in West London, the hostile environment in its many forms continues, but today they are breathing relief after months of uncertainty and anxiety around the Rwanda plan.

“Since last year we have practically and emotionally supported a number of our asylum-seeking community members after they received letters from the Home Office suggesting they could be removed to another country, such as Rwanda, to have their asylum claims considered there instead.

“The Rwanda plan has caused nothing but fear amongst the people we support, cost the UK millions, and put huge pressure on legal aid lawyers and frontline NGOs like ourselves to navigate and support people through an uncertain legal situation.”

The verdict challenges a cornerstone of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s strategy to curb small boat crossings across the English Channel. The Government’s £140 million Rwanda scheme was meant to act as a deterrent. Refugee charities, including West London Welcome have vehemently rejected the assumption that it would.

The Government should now rethink its strategy for dealing with asylum seekers said West London Welcome’s director and founder Joanne MacInnes:

“Today’s decision provides the Government with an opportunity to take a new path on asylum policy. The Supreme Court and the majority of people in Britain are clear: those seeking asylum must have their rights protected.

“We call on the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to start anew, reverse their hostile environment and create humane policies that enable people seeking sanctuary to experience a just, functioning asylum system.”

She realises however their advice is unlikely to be heeded and that there are strong voices in the Conservative Party urging the Prime Minister to push ahead with its policy.

Yesterday Suella Braverman published an incendiary letter after she was sacked from her job as Home Secretary on Monday. In it she accused the Prime Minister of reneging on agreements to fortify UK law against legal challenges under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act.

The Prime Minister has since said he would not let “a foreign court” stop flights to Rwanda. Rishi Sunak said he would table emergency legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, which would define Rwanda as a ‘safe’ country for asylum seekers to be deported to.

Image above: Director/Founder of refugee charity West London Welcome – Joanne MacInnes, West London Welcome 

“Difficult to understand” way forward for Illegal Migration Act, says West London Welcome

“We know the Government will still try to press on with the Rwanda plan regardless of today’s ruling” said Joanne.

“The Government has been trying to fully implement its Illegal Migration Act, which seeks to prevent those entering the UK via informal means, such as by small boat, from applying for asylum here, and send people to ‘safe third countries’ to have their asylum claims processed.

“Rwanda was supposed to be this ‘safe third country’, yet given the Supreme Court’s decision, it’s difficult to understand how the Illegal Migration Act can now be fully implemented.

“The Rwanda Plan and Illegal Migration Act must be scrapped in their entirety, and if this Government truly want to ‘stop the boats’, they must urgently create safe routes to the UK in order that people do not need to risk their lives to find safety and live in dignity.”

Watermans arts centre regeneration “still on track” says Hounslow Council

Image above: Productions at Watermans arts centre

“Non-material amendments” may need to be made to plans before work can begin

The regeneration of Watermans arts centre in Brentford is “still on track to happen” according to Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and and Development, Cllr Tom Bruce.

During a Hounslow Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (14 November) Cllr Bruce said he wanted to assuage fears about the project being at “red risk”, as the deadline for work to begin on the proposals approaches.

Cllr Bruce said there were “internal conversations” going on about Hanworth Park House, Convent Way and the Watermans proposals, all three of which have been designated at ‘red risk’, meaning that Council officers have flagged up potential risks in pursuing the development, such as concerns about inflation, increased material costs, supply chain and labour shortages, heightened borrowing expenses, delays in utility connections, and power supply adequacy.

At Tuesday night’s meeting the Cabinet were reviewing the Delivery Plan for the borough.

Cllr Tom Bruce 

“Red always makes people very concerned”

“Red always makes people very concerned, I’m sure, and worried it’s not going to come forward at all,” said Cllr Bruce. “I just want to assure people that that’s not the case, it’s not that they’re red because nothing is happening and they’re not going to happen. But it is important that we are transparent and we are clear about concerns that we might have about their delivery on the time frame we had them previously.

“All of them are still on track to happen, I think that’s really important to say, there are internal conversations about how that is going to take place and we are currently looking at the HRA [Housing Revenue Account] business plan and a refreshed HRA business plan will come forward jointly between myself and Cllr Sampson [Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness] in January or February next year.”

The HRA business plan is the strategic document which outlines the financial and operational framework for managing council housing. HRAs are used by local authorities to account for their housing stock and related services separately from their general fund.

Image above: Impressions of proposals approved by LB Hounslow in 2021

Work needs to start by April

The demolition of Watermans arts centre, the redevelopment of the site, and the re-siting of Watermans to the old police station building in Brentford is intended to create a number of new flats and additional retail space as well as the new arts centre.

Cllr Bruce told Cabinet the Watermans proposal might need to be “re-profiled” and some “non-material amendments” made before work could start, adding that discussions were ongoing with the developer.

There is some urgency about agreeing a way forward with developers. Approval for the project was granted in 2021, and work must commence within three years of approval, so the permission will lapse in April 2024.

He did not elaborate on what amendments needed to be made. Non-material amendments are changes to a planning proposal that do not materially alter the size and scale of the building and would not alter the description of the development.

We have asked Cllr Bruce what changes are being made.

Image above: Watermans; photograph John Angerson

What will happen to Watermans?

The existing riverside site is due for demolition and redevelopment as flats as part of the Brentford town redevelopment and the arts centre is scheduled to move to a bigger venue in Brentford, in the old police station, which will provide 105 new flats and 484m2 of retail space, combined with the development of the new Watermans arts centre within a seven-storey block.

The proposed Watermans arts centre as proposed in 2021 promised a larger theatre, two cinemas with a gallery for film festivals, and space for a café/restaurant, totalling 2,776m2. No provision for car parking is included in the plans.

The Albany Riverside development, planned for the site of the current arts centre and the former Max Factor offices, encompasses 193 units in buildings ranging from six to seven storeys. Progress on this development hinges on the completion of the Watermans arts centre at the Half Acre site, a critical component of the affordable housing scheme.

As with all building projects, it has faced escalating costs, which led the Council’s Cabinet to approve recommendations in July to address the funding gap and look for ways to improve the scheme’s viability.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Four arrested after fatal stabbing in Southall

Image above: Burket Close in Southall; via Google Maps

Teenager died after being stabbed in Burket Close in Southall

Four arrests have been made after a murder investigation was launched following the tragic death of a teenager in Hounslow. Four men, aged 21, 27, 31 and 71, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. A crime scene remains in place.

Police were called at 12.15am on Wednesday, 15 November to reports of a fight in progress in Burket Close, Southall. Officers attended along with the London Ambulance Service and a 17-year-old male was found with stab injuries. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

His next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers. Detective Superintendent Figo Forouzan, Head of CID in west London, said:

“This is an extremely sad incident that will understandably cause concern in the community.

“I would like to reassure the community that we will carry out a thorough investigation to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

“Whilst we have made arrests in this investigation, I would like to seek assistance from the public. I continue to appeal to anyone who has any information about how the events unfolded or anyone who may have captured the incident on their phone, dash cameras or doorbell footage to make contact with the police immediately.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Residents moved out of nearby houses after fatal fire in Hounslow

Image above: A section of Channel Close in Hounslow; via Google Maps

Some residents have been moved to hotels for their own safety

Hounslow Council says it is providing “assistance around the clock” for residents affected by Sunday’s fire at a house in Hounslow in which a family of five are known to have died and one person is still unaccounted for.

Leader of Hounslow Council Shantanu Rajawat said the local authority was “conducting welfare checks with those affected”.

On Sunday night (12 November) a large fire erupted at a house in in Channel Close, burning down the first and ground floors. A neighbour on the street told reporters they thought the “whole street was going to catch alight”.

The adults who lived at the home have been named as Aroen Kishen and Seema Kishen, while one of the children has been named locally as Riyan. A tribute left on Tuesday from a Mrs Sheldon said:

“Words cannot even begin to express our sorrow at hearing the loss of three beautiful souls. Forever in our hearts! Good night and god bless.”

Hounslow Council Leader Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

Speaking to BBC Radio London Cllr Rajawat said:

“It will take some time to get into the property, make sure it’s safe to be able to work in it, so the investigations can happen. Precautionary measures have been taken to ensure other residents and their properties are secure.”

The Council leader told the BBC that these measures included moving people out of nearby houses. He said that residents were moved into hotels and “the Council is working with them very, very closely”.

An investigation is being carried out into how the fire began and the Council is working with the MetropolitanPolice and London Fire Brigade to help support the recovery efforts.

Cllr Rajawat’s full statement read:

“On behalf of the Council I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic fire at Channel Close, Heston, [ on Sunday] night.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected during this difficult time. We are working together with our colleagues from the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police to support the recovery effort.

“Hounslow Council colleagues are conducting welfare checks with those affected and are on hand to provide assistance around the clock. If you are affected by the fire in any way, please get in touch with Ruth Walshe from London Fire Brigade, on 07385 943955 or via email.”

Suspected carbon monoxide leak hospitalises three in Acton

Fire engines from Acton and Chiswick fire station respond to suspected leak

Two adults and a child were taken to hospital after a suspected carbon monoxide leak in Acton on Monday (13 October).

Firefighters were called to a house in Bromyard Avenue at 5.27pm and fire engines were sent from Acton and Chiswick fire station as well as two fire rescue units from Wembley and Euston.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used specialist equipment to carry out a sweep of the building and found elevated readings of carbon monoxide.

They declared the incident over by 8.02pm after the fire crews had ensured no elevated readings remained.

Image above: Bromyard Avenue; Google Street View

Fire Brigade stresses importance of fitting a CO alarm.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “You can’t taste, see or smell CO fumes, but it can kill in minutes.

“It’s really important to fit a CO alarm in all rooms containing fuel burning appliances, ensuring that the alarm is able to be heard throughout the property. When sleeping, it’s important that your alarm can wake you if it sounds.

“It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and learn what to do if you suspect someone may be affected.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, breathlessness, feeling weak, leading to collapse and loss of consciousness.

According to NHS information on the subject, the most common cause of CO poisoning in homes is poorly installed, faulty or poorly maintained appliances, including gas boilers, gas cookers and clay ovens, gas or paraffin heaters, wood, gas and coal fires and portable generators. Unvented space heaters are a common cause.

If you think a gas appliance is leaking carbon monoxide, call the free National Gas Helpline immediately on 0800 111 999. The service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Chiswick Cheese Market – Sunday 19 November

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market

Guest blog by Lucy Cufflin

At the last market, we joined forces with The Academy of Cheese for the first ever, LIVE, Big Cheese Weekender – and what a day it was!

Fantastic demos from the Queen of Cheddar herself, Mary Quicke, who showed us how cheddar is made, sharing her love and enthusiasm for the miracle that is cheese. Next up… Perry Wakeman, Affineur of the Year two years in a row, showed us how the maturing process works.

A fun event with the Academy and Patrick McGuigan introduced us to “cheese and food pairing” which was followed by the tremendous ‘Tastes of the Unexpected’. Hosted by our very own Abigail Pitcher and me, six celebrity cheese and drinks faces pitched their unusual pairing to the audience. We had:

Sake and Monte Enebro; Prosecco and Mont d’Or; Dima’s Vodka and Comté; Ice cider with Stichelton; Cheddar with single estate Darjeeling tea; and perhaps strangest of all, Sinodun Hill with fizzy cola bottle sweets – It was truly a mysterious journey – thank you to the cheese and drink experts who tickled our tastebuds!

And, we are proud to announce that the winner of The Chiswick Cheese Market Unusual Cheese and Drink Pairing 2023 is… drum roll… James Grant, who offered up Iced Apple wine with Stichelton – wow and wow!

Roll on 2024 for the next Big Cheese Weekender – it was such amazing fun! Also, we raised £370 for charity to boot, so thank you to everyone who contributed to the event.

Image above: Introducing the Cheesewick cow

Name that Cow!

With extra cheese for sale, and more cheesy treats to eat and drink it was truly a grand day out. But without doubt – and not wishing to sound boastful or like a proud parent or anything – the star turn of the October’s Market was the arrival of the Cheesewick Cow – isn’t she beautiful?

She’ll be at each-and-every market from now on, seasonally dressed (of course!). Come and meet her – she is a perfect photo op so don’t walk by without a quick snap – #cheesewick.

Talking all things cow now the serious business of naming her begins and we’re handing it over to you. Any bright ideas? Clementine, Buttercup, or something cheeky like Kim Curd-ashian or Brie-oncé? The competition is now OPEN, so get your thinking caps on and enter our ‘name the Cheesewick Cow competition’. More info at

Image above: Cornish Kern – Smoke and Cure

World Cheese Awards

With all of that going on, we don’t want to miss the important news that The World Cheese Awards took place at the end of October in Norway. With 4502 entries, one winner and only 16 Super Gold Awards you will be thrilled to know that out of those 16, five were British.

We are on the world cheese map, folks; AND, what is more, ALL FIVE of those will be on sale at the November market along with many of the Gold Award winners. See a list of all winners

Wigmore – Big Wheel Cheese

Devon Blue – Deli at no. 5

Allerdale – No. 2 Pound St

Cornish Kern – Smoke and Cure

Come early to ensure you get a winner in your shopping bag but if you want to try some of the winners with experts, we can offer that too – the fabulous Perry Wakeman and Emma Young AKA @thecheeseexplorer are hosting a World Cheese Award Winners tasting event at The George IV on market day. Don’t miss this – only a few tickets left – book here:

World Cheese Awards 2023 Cheese tasting with Emma Young & Perry Wakeman

Don’t fight it, it’s nearly Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, many of our traders have put together some Specials you will not want to miss.

Ealing Relish and Deliciously Dauntsey will be unveiling their Christmas chutneys and boy or boy they are so good I’m getting both. Wood and Leg smokery and Berkshire Trout have exciting hampers to order and look out for Berks Trout special smoked trout with gin and beetroot – limited edition Christmas only.

You’ll go crackers for this – Happy Place Provisions have 2 special Christmas flavours – Nutty Spiced Apple and Fennel and Caraway plus a festive gift box that they are calling the ‘12 Crackers of Christmas’.

Steff’s Kitchen is bringing her homemade Christmas Pud – if you have never tried a strong cheddar with Christmas pudding this might be the year you do – it is one of my secret pleasures over the festive season.

There are lots and lots of other ‘specials’ ready for you to buy at this market or order to collect at the December Market. I can feel a Christmas gift frenzy coming on!

And what better way to give those Christmas pressies than in a ‘Cheesewick’ Tote? …… and don’t forget to slip a Cheesewick Tea towel in the bag at the same time – a perfect gift for any cheese lover – available on HQ and remember all proceeds from the tea towels and totes go towards our charitable donations. Win, win – give a gift and do some good at the same time.

Images above: Marmalade and Bath soft cheese; November’s Cheese Market recipe of the month – Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls

Recipe of the month (as always thanks to Matt at CKBK providing it) looks perfect for the these cold autumn days – Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls from Autumn and Winter Cooking with a Veg Box (Riverford Companions) by Guy Watson

See the recipe here: Squashy Bottom Soup Bowls

I wanted to end with a little note that Sicilia Fredda who launched at the market in August/September, have returned from the olive harvest in Sicily bringing new season olive oil, but also offering a wonderful Christmas gift of adopting an olive tree – they will have all the info on the stall along with a little Sicilian sunshine – they are bringing over some freshly picked oranges from their own orange groves.

Now, what you might not know about me is one of my little indulgences is creamy Brie on toast with a big spoon of marmalade – it is truly a marriage made in heaven – buttery, creamy, almost nutty cheese with the tang of marmalade piled onto slightly burnt toast (OK you don’t have to burn your toast!).

So, I’m adding a brief recipe at the end for my three-fruit marmalade (perfect made with sweet Sicilian oranges) and I have paired it with Gold Award winning Bath Soft Cheese – you just have to try it!

I do hope you try the marmalade cheese combo, I do hope you make some marmalade with the fresh Sicilian oranges, but even if you don’t, get yourself down to @chiswickcheesemarket on November 19th as there is simply too much to miss.

Three fruit marmalade

Grapefruit, Lemon, sweet orange marmalade – makes about five jars

1.5kg sweet oranges, 2 lemons, 2 pink grapefruit, 2kg jam sugar with pectin.

1) Cover the whole fruit with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil – simmer for about 1 ½ hours or until the fruit is really soft. Allow to cool until you can handle it (overnight is perfect)

2) Drain the fruit but do NOT discard the liquid

3) Cut the fruit in half, scoop out the insides and press all the pulp and seeds into a sieve adding the drained liquid to the cooking juices. Remove the seeds and chop the flesh. Then shred all the fruit rind. Add to the pulp and weigh it.

4) Add an equal quantity of the cooking liquid to the weight of rind and fruit pulp – add some extra water if needed. Then weigh that combo – for every 450g of rind/liquid mix add 400g of jam sugar and put it all into a large preserving pan.

5) cook for abut 30-40 minutes testing for a set as normal and put onto sterilised jars.

#lovecheese #cheesewick

Lucy Cufflin is one of the organisers of the Chiswick Cheese Market

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Remembrance Sunday at St Michael & All Angels

Image above: Fr Kevin Morris, Vicar of St Michael & All Angels

In contrast to the events in the centre of London, the Remembrance ceremonies in Chiswick were quiet and respectful as usual. Torin Douglas was at the service at St Michael & All Angels

Text by Torin Douglas MBE. Pictures by Torin and Jim Cox

More than 200 people of all ages attended this year’s Remembrance Sunday service at St Michael & All Angels Church Bedford Park. The Choral Requiem Mass was led by the Vicar, Father Kevin Morris, with the Choir of St Michael & All Angels under the director of music and organist Jonathan Dods.

The mass setting was Requiem Opus 9 by Maurice Durufle and there was a prayer, written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for all who suffer in the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians, and the families of the bereaved.

Image above: Inside St Michael & All Angels 

In the church, over 500 poppies knitted by the congregation were displayed on the Parish Memorial Rood Screen, together with a vase of ceramic poppies from the 2014 display at the Tower of London and ten soldier silhouettes from the There But Not There programme, which marked the centenary of the First World War.

After the singing of the National Anthem at the end of the service, the clergy, choir and congregation processed to the Bedford Park war memorial seat outside the Parish Hall for the two-minute silence, signalled by a trumpeter. Poppy wreaths were laid by the assistant priest Father Brandon Fletcher-James and members of the Children’s Church.

Image above: Leading the congregation outside to St Michael & All Angels’ war memorial bench

This year’s Remembrance exhibition, Chiswick Women In War, will remain on display in the church till next Sunday November 19th. It can also be seen online here:

Chiswick Women in War exhibition

READ ALSO: Pat Davies receives France’s highest honour

Image above: The laying of the wreath

Image above: The Last Post

Image above: We will remember them

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The Elephant in the Room review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: Kristin Milward as Judith, Fraser Anthony (standing), Josie Ayers as Rosemary, Baptiste Semin, Craig Crosbie as Johnny (seated, hidden) and Stephen Omer as David, in The Elephant in the Room at the Tabard theatre

Review by By Simon Thomsett

Whilst travelling in India, 19-year-old Ashley Davenport encounters Yama, the King of Death and begins to question his place in the world. Disillusioned with his fellow British tourists, disdainfully dismissed as “the shouting people” and overcome with ennui, he decides to give up and retire from this life, and with a “Bye bye world and good riddance,” checks himself in to a retirement home. Thus begins Peter Hamilton’s new play just opened at the theatre at the Tabard.

Fraser Anthony as Davenport embodies foppish posh privilege very well, he is matched by Yasser Kayani as the sceptical and alcoholic nurse Krish, who dismisses the younger man’s request (“I wish to renounce the world!”) at first but gradually comes round to it, largely on account of his ability to pay.

Image above: Fraser Anthony as Ashley Davenport

Kayani’s gently sardonic performance is a joy and he has gleeful fun watching events unfold and indulging others, even when things go wrong for him, helped in large part by a seemingly endless supply of fine malt whisky and a belief that things will work out. “God loves a drunkard,” he insists, even when the evidence would suggest otherwise.

What follows is Davenport’s integration into the closed world of the home. “What are you doing down among the dead?” intones the gloomy David, gleefully played for maximum pessimism by Stephen Omer; a good question given Davenport’s obvious privilege and apparent good health.

His fellow residents bicker, play Monopoly and reminisce; together they resemble a gathering of rather worn out ancient gods, an impression made manifest by the bright white celestial setting of Ken McClymont’s clever set which manages to make the retirement home look anything but cosy but rather more coldly clinical.

The other elders comprise of Josie Ayers (Rosemary) and Kristin Milward (Judith) who touchingly stick together and Craig Crosbie’s lecherous, wishful Johnny, who has a frankly alarming habit of staring open mouthed but absolutely still until suddenly picking up a long-forgotten line of thought.

Image above: Craig Crosbie, Fraser Anthony and Stephen Omer

They make a marvellous ensemble but will prove disturbing to anyone with any anxiety about growing old. They occupy their own small world and although welcoming of Davenport at first, realise as he settles in rather too cosily that something must be done: “He can’t be one of us, we’ve got to talk him out of it.”

Thrown into the mix is Baptiste Semin as pastry chef Miguel who seems at first content to pursue his trade but has a spiritual longing that brings dramatic and unlikely change after the interval.

Lee Jia-Yu completes the cast as Kim-Ly, a worried and insecure nurse desperate to find love, or marriage at least to ensure her future; she too will undergo sudden change as the story unfolds, regrettably into rather old-fashioned caricature.

Image above: Baptiste Semin as Miguel and Lee Jia-Yu as Kim-Ly

As for the old folk, Stephen Omer gets the best lines and makes the most of them: “I sometimes wish for all out nuclear war,” he says in one of his merrily miserable moments.

The elephant? Well, there is the one that lives in Davenport’s family home and allowed the freedom of the house once a year, and another glimpsed in impressionistic black and white projections moving slowly in the background during certain key moments, suggesting that there is something more going on below the surface of this strange story, but it’s not all that clear as to what that is.

Food for thought if a little rambling but with some moments of fun and strong performances, The Elephant in the Room plays until 2 December.

Book tickets: The Elephant in the Room

Image above: Kristin Milward and Josie Ayers

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.

JFK: The Home Movie that Changed the World – review

Image above: Presisent Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas; photograph colourised by Clayton Hickman

Exclusive preview at Chiswick Cinema of a new documentary by Chiswick originator and executive producer Steve Anderson, with colourisation by Chiswick artist Clayton Hickman, to mark the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination

Chiswick Cinema held an exclusive, pre-broadcast screening of the television documentary JFK: The Home Movie that Changed the World on Monday night (13 November) before it is airs on ITVX on Thursday 16 November to mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy in Dallas.

I thought I had seen every permutation of the story I could ever wish to see. Apparently there have been over 1,000 books written on the topic, 95% of which are conspiracy theories, which leave me cold. I will admit, I even fell asleep during Oliver Stone’s seminal movie JFK.

But this was different. It tells the tale of a Jewish immigrant to the United States, Abraham Zapruder, who was a home movie enthusiast, a middle aged garment manufacturer whose offices overlooked the route the president’s cortège would take, who had found a spot high up on a wall, where he could stand overlooking the road where the president would pass by.

As it happened, it was the spot where the president was killed. He saw it happen right in front of him and captured the moments from when the motorcade came round a bend in the road towards him, through the awful sequence when the president was shot three times, Jackie Kennedy crawled onto the back of the car and one of the security men climbed on to it from behind, in an attempt to shelter them, as the car sped up and raced away to the nearest hospital.

As the open limousine came towards him it was momentarily blocked by a big road sign and as the car emerged Zapruder saw the first shot jerk the president’s head forward, President Kennedy putting his hands to his throat and slumping over on Jackie Kennedy, and then his head exploding with the second shot.

Image above: President and Jackie Kennedy; image from JFK: The Home Movie that Changed the World

As revealed in an interview by Chiswick playwright and journalist Jonathan Maitland …

Journalist and playwright Jonathan Maitland interviewed executive producer and originator of the documentary, Steve Anderson, in front of an audience and as he pointed out, the footage had been seen on American television many times, but possibly never before in a cinema on a huge screen. It was profoundly shocking, even though you may have seen a version of that sequence many times before.

What made the documentary different was the focus on Abraham Zapruder, how he had come to America with his family at the age of 15, escaping pogroms in imperialist Russia. How he had never had a formal education and despite his success as a businessman he lacked confidence, which may have been why initially he had not taken his 8 millimetre camera with him.

He thought he wouldn’t get to see the president, that he was too short, he wouldn’t be able to get a clear view. It was his secretary Lillian Rogers who persuaded him to go back and get his camera. When he showed what he’d filmed to the FBI and to Life magazine reporter Dick Stolley later, they were amazed that he had captured the whole thing perfectly in focus, in a continuous, stable shot.

The documentary tells the tale of how Dick Stolley pursued Mr Zapruder, finding his number in the phone book and calling him every 15 minutes until he got hold of him, and how he showed up an hour earlier than other reporters so he could watch the footage with the FBI.

Abraham Zapruder respected Life magazine, he was a subscriber and knew it was very much picture-led. He trusted them to treat his 26 seconds of film in such a way that would show dignity and respect to the family. They did not use frame 3.13, the ‘head shot’ which we had just watched on the big screen. It was not shown on television in America until 1975 – 12 years after the assassination.

Inevitably there was a lot that the documentary makers cut out. Steve, who lives in Chiswick, is now something of an expert on the assassination of JFK.

I asked about the pressure Mr Zapruder had come under from reporters and he described how Stolley had taken an office in his building, separating himself from the pack, and how he had won over Mr Zapruder’s secretary Lillian Rogers, getting to know her and gaining her confidence while he negotiated with Mr Zapruder on a price for the footage.

The story is told from the perspective of those who were there – lots of young people who were teenagers or in their early 20s, who had turned out full of optimism and happiness to cheer on the glamorous celebrity couple.

One of Steve’s production team trawled through 2,000 bits of audio which had been gifted to the museum in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, finding an obscure nine minute radio interview with Mr Zapruder himself, which they had not even yet catalogued, and they spoke to his grand daughter on the effect it all had on him.

Another production technique that makes it more interesting is the colourisation. It is surprising what a difference the subtle colourisation makes. Zapruder’s film was in colour but Clayton Hickman (another Chiswick resident – of course!) added colour to the contemporary black and white photographs to match.

So if you are tempted to think ‘oh not another JFK documentary’, think again. It is worth the watch. Chiswick Cinema had to screen it twice on Monday evening to meet the demand. And now I am all out of Chiswick references – except that my neighbour Jeanette Smedley also worked on the edit. Now I think that’s it.

JFK: The Home Movie that Changed the World will be available to watch on ITVX on 16 November:

“Good riddance”, West London MPs react to Suella Braverman sacking

Image above: Suella Braverman outside No.10; library image

“She showed little interest in tackling crime and used the position to campaign to be the next Tory leader – Ruth Cadbury MP

“Good Riddance, Let’s finish the job #GeneralElectionN0W” – Rupa Huq MP

The two MPs who represent Chiswick have been giving their reaction to the sacking of Suella Braverman. Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq have both been critical of the former Home Secretary, not just for the usual party political reasons.

“As Suella Braverman is sacked for the second time it’s worth remembering just how poorly she ran the Home Office” Ruth Cadbury told us. “She did virtually nothing when as London MPs we called for reforms to policing, she didn’t care about wasted taxpayers [money] in the supply chain for asylum accommodation.

“Despite being told that contractors were ripping off the taxpayer & the home office and making huge sums of money. She showed little interest in tackling crime, little interest in tackling [Violence against women and girls] & used the position to campaign to be the next Tory leader.

“Rishi Sunak knew all this when he appointed her as his Home Secretary- he appointed her because he was weak & needed her support to become Prime Minister. A year later he has finally decided to sack her.”

Rupa Huq, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton, simply said: “Good riddance. Let’s finish the job #GeneralElectionN0W”

Image above: Ruth Cadbury & Rupa Huq

Ushering in the return of David Cameron

The former Home Secretary was forced from her post on Monday (13 November). Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sacked her after she was blamed for inflaming tensions over Armistice Day protests, which saw over 145 people arrested, after she wrote an article in The Times criticising the Metropolitan Police, accusing them of bias.

READ ALSO: Ruth Cadbury slams Home Secretary for undermining Police

READ ALSO: Man from Chiswick charged after far-right violence in central London

Braverman was immediately replaced by James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, who was in turn replaced by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Home Secretary also stirred controversy recently when she described homelessness as a “lifestyle choice” and branded pro-Palestine marches as anti-semitic “hate marches”.

A government source said that Sunak “asked Suella Braverman to leave government and she has accepted”.

After being sacked, Braverman said “it has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Home Secretary”, adding: “I will have more to say in due course.”

Images above: LBC journalist James O’Brien; Cllr Peter Thompson

“Morally corrupt and deeply dangerous”

Cllr Peter Thompson, Leader of the Conservative Group on Hounslow Council, told us:

“Suella Braverman’s position had become untenable after her Times article that had not been cleared by the Prime Minister. What is important now is that we focus on stopping people trafficking and working with the police to ensure that all sections of our society feel safe on our streets.”

LBC presenter James O’Brien, who lives in Chiswick, described Suella Braverman as “morally corrupt and deeply dangerous ” and praised the Metropolitan Police commissioner Mark Rowley for “refusing to become a political tool for the fevered ambitions of the ridiculous Home Secretary”.

He later added:

“…Two things that I’d quite like to be wrong about. First is that she wanted a riot this weekend. She wanted much, much more violence on the streets of London. She was expecting many, many more far-right thugs to answer her call. And the second thing is, that if it had happened, Sunak wouldn’t have got rid of her.”

Above: Post on X by LBC of James O’Brien talking about former Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Man from Chiswick charged after far-right violence in central London

Image above: Far-right mob clash with police on Armistice Day; Photograph via X (Twitter)

Chiswick man charged with assaulting an emergency worker

A man from Chiswick has been charged with assault after a mob of far-right protestors descended on the Cenotaph on Armistice Day (Saturday 11 November).

Karl Jordan, 47, of Burlington Lane, was charged with assault on an emergency worker. He has been bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 30 November.

Officers made a total of 145 arrests during the pro-Palestinian demonstration and counter protest by far-right groups for offences including assault, possession of weapons, criminal damage, public order, inciting racial hatred and possession of drugs.

Videos posted on X, formerly Twitter, by anti-fascist campaigner Nick Lowles, showed scores of far-right thugs charging towards the Cenotaph. A later video showed dozens of men being questioned and searched by police, during which one man had a small plastic bag, of what appeared to be cocaine, confiscated by officers.

Later in the day, during the pro-Palestine march, a crowd estimated as between 300,000 and 800,000 people marched from Marble Arch to the US embassy calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. While the vast majority of those marching were peaceful protestors, several videos were recorded of behaviour which may constitute a hate crime, and the Met are still appealing for information to support a number of ongoing enquiries.

The charges so far follow investigations led by detectives from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and the Public Order Crime Team.

Key events of Armistice Day 

Above: Tweet showing far-right mob storming towards the Cenotaph

Above: Far-right mob clashes with police

Above: Tweet thread showing far-right counter-protestor confronted with what appears to be drugs and an earlier video which appears to show him clashing with police earlier in the day

Above: Appeal by Met Police to identify a man in connection with a hate crime investigation

Met urge those with information to come forward 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who led Saturday’s policing operation said:

“Public order policing doesn’t end when demonstrators go home. We have teams of officers who continue to build cases against those in custody and launch investigations into those who come to our attention when images and videos are shared on social media.

“Since the end of yesterday’s demonstration we’ve published appeals in relation to six incidents and I have no doubt there will be more to follow. Our colleagues at the British Transport Police have published a further two appeals.

“We urge anyone who has information about the identity of suspects, or who has footage or photos of further potential offences, to get in touch so we can take the appropriate action.”

Chiswick doctor Kok-Tee becomes poster girl for organ donation

 Images above: Kok-Tee with husband Peter and with a friend’s cat

Kok-Tee Khaw wanted to make a difference when she died

Kok-Tee Khaw, a consultant radiologist who lived in Chiswick and died last year, chose to donate her organs, because she realised from her life as a doctor how important it could be – both life-saving and life-changing for the recipients.

Malaysian-born Kok-Tee, who was 67 when she died, became an organ and tissue donor when she had an accident and suffered untreatable injuries.

READ ALSO: Kok-Tee Khaw obituary

Her case is being used by the NHS Blood and Transplant unit as one of a number of examples to try and persuade more people, particularly from Black and Minority Ethnic groups to do the same.

In 2020, the law around organ donation changed so that all adults in England are now considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die. In order to opt-out, you have to have recorded a decision not to donate, or to be in one of a number of excluded groups, which include those under the age of 18, visitors to England and those who lack the capacity to understand the law change.

“When they brought in the law change, I remember Kok-Tee saying that she wanted to confirm her support for donation,” said her husband, Peter Taylor.

“When we were at the hospital deciding what to do, I said Kok-Tee wanted to give her organs,” he continued.

“It was [her] decision, so we had to honour that. It shows the importance of putting your name on the register.”

Peter is also a doctor, and worked for many years as a surgeon. Two of Kok-Tee’s siblings are also senior physicians, so in her case, the family were behind her decision, but the NHS Blood and Transplant unit says:

‘It is commonly seen that patients and/or families of ethnic minorities refuse transplantation or donation due to misunderstandings and uncertainty regarding the unknown.

‘The main reasons families from ethnic minority backgrounds gave for declining consent/authorisation for organ donation were that they felt it was against their religious or cultural beliefs or they were unsure whether the patient would have agreed to donation.’

They want people, particularly members of the Black and Ethnic Minority communities, to make their intentions clear, so their families will know they have made a positive decision to donate their organs, and honour it, to improve organ donation and transplantation rates within these ethnic minority communities.

Images above: Kok-Tee with her siblings. L to R Khaw Chay-Tee, Khaw Kok-Tee, Professor Khaw Kay-Tee CBE and Professor Sir Khaw Peng-Tee

Kok-Tee among a rising number of ethnic minority donors who want their wishes to be clear

Kok-Tee Thaw is one of a number of donors who represent a considerable rise in opt-in registrations from Asian and Black heritage donors, as the number of people from ethnic minorities is still vastly underrepresented when it comes to becoming organ donors.

In 2019, 7.1% of people who registered for organ donation were from ethnic minorities. This figure rose to 11.7% in 2023. However, the number of donors is still not sufficient to treat everyone who needs a donor.

People of Asian Heritage made up 4% of deceased donors but 19% of the transplant waiting list.

Lead nurse for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, Winnie Andango stressed the importance of same-heritage donors.

“Currently over three-quarters of people waiting for a transplant in the UK are waiting for a kidney,” she said.

“The chances of finding a suitable donor are higher when a potential donor is of the same ethnicity.”

The statistics from the past five years summed up in the report show that 62% of Asian and 51% of Black Kidney transplants receive a kidney from a living donor of the same ethnicity.

How would Kok-Tee feel about being a ‘poster girl’?

We asked Peter how he thought Kok-Tee would have reacted to being a ‘poster-girl’ for organ donation.

“I think it would have made her laugh. It made me laugh and it made her sister laugh and I think anyone who knew her would realise it would have made her laugh.”

More information regarding organ donation can be found on the NHS website here:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Family of five dead in Hounslow fire

Image above: London Fire Brigade truck; library image

Five dead and one missing after ‘devastating’ fire

Five people including three children have died and one person is unaccounted for after a fire broke out at a house in Channel Close in Hounslow on Sunday night (12 November). All five are believed to be from the same family according to the Metropolitan police, who have opened an investigation.

Ten fire engines and around 70 firefighters were called to the blaze at 10.26pm on Sunday, London Fire Brigade said. The ground floor and first floors of the mid-terraced house were destroyed by the fire and part of the roof was also damaged.

Five people on the first floor of the building were pronounced dead at the scene, the brigade said. One man left the property before emergency crews arrived and was taken to hospital. One person remained unaccounted for.

The blaze was brought under control by 1.25am on Monday. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Above: Post on X (Twitter) from LFB

“Terribly sad”

The London fire commissioner, Andy Roe, said:

“This is a terribly sad incident and the thoughts of all of us at London Fire Brigade are with the family, friends and all those affected at this difficult time.

“Staff will be in the local community today to offer support and advice where needed. The welfare of our staff is very important and all those involved will be offered support from our counselling and trauma service.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ruth Cadbury MP for Isleworth and Brentford, said:

“I am devastated to learn this morning that five people, including children, died in a fire in a house in Hounslow last night.

“My thoughts are with their family, friends neighbours.”

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, leader of Hounslow Council, said:

“On behalf of the Council I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in the tragic fire at Channel Close, Heston, last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected during this difficult time. We are working together with our colleagues from the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police to support the recovery effort.”

“Hounslow Council colleagues are conducting welfare checks with those affected and are on hand to provide assistance around the clock. If you are affected by the fire in any way, please get in touch with Ruth Walshe from London Fire Brigade, 07385 943955,

Hounslow Council agrees to put cameras in Barnes Passage

Image above: Barnes passageway; photograph Anna Kunst

CCTV cameras to be installed to deter muggers

Hounslow Council has agreed to put security cameras in Barnes passageway, which leads from near Chiswick Station on Burlington Lane to Barnes Bridge.

Chiswick Cllr John Todd asked the Council to do it two years ago, he told The Chiswick Calendar, but was told there was not enough evidence that it was necessary. Well now there is. There has been a spate of robberies recently, and there have been a number of arrests leading to several people being charged, thanks to vociferous campaigning of a parent whose son was mugged in the passageway.

Ania Oliviera brought it to the attention of the tri-borough commander, Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, at the recent Town Hall meeting on policing and a Hounslow officer who met residents at the follow-up meeting at Chiswick Cricket Club has acted swiftly on the feedback he received.

READ ALSO: Residents vent their anger at police about rising tide of crime in Chiswick

READ ALSO: Robberies in Barnes passageway by Chiswick Station a frequent occurrence

Image above: (L to R) PC Sam Allo; Cllr jack Emsley; Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council at last week’s meeting

Quick response from Hounslow’s Safer Communities Coordinator to residents’ concerns

Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council, heard from Ania and about 30 other residents of Staveley Gardens about how vulnerable they were to attacks in the passageway. Jane Mills, Deputy Head of Chiswick School, told him how their students had been targeted. Representatives of Chiswick Hockey Club who use the passageway to get to their ground in Dukes Meadows told him how it affected them.

The Police said they had given several recommendations to LB Hounslow to improve safety along the passage, including the introduction of CCTV and that there should be a designated enforcement officer, either from the Police or the Council to patrol the alleyway after school has finished.

Within a week Mr Duncan had got back to Chiswick councillors Jack Emsley and John Todd to tell them he could confirm two cameras would be installed by the Council – one on Burlington Lane near the station which will be put up next week and one outside Virgin Active. The police are also looking at installing a ‘Nomad camera’ temporarily near Barnes railway bridge.

Ania told The Chiswick Calendar:

“As a community we are really relieved that they’re putting up these cameras to make it safer for us. It’s a lovely community with loads of families and children and it’s good that we can feel safer.”

Cllr Emsley told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I’m really pleased that Barnes Passage is finally being made safer with the deployment of CCTV. The worrying spike in crime in the area has left many feeling concerned about using the passage, so this action by the police and the council will go some way to making it safer for local people to go to and from their homes, shops and schools.

“I’d like to particularly thank local police Constable Sam Allo and Hounslow’s Safer Communities Coordinator, Matt Duncan, for their hard work and persistence, as well as all of the local residents, schools and businesses who have worked with us and campaigned to make this area safer.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Concerns raised about Ealing conservation area proposed changes

Image above: Beaconsfield Gardens in bloom in the spring

Residents and community leaders unite against proposed changes

Chiswick residents and environmental campaigners have voiced their concerns over Ealing Council’s proposals to alter conservation areas and introduce a telecommunications tower in the heart of Beaconsfield Gardens.

READ ALSO: Ealing Council proposes removing Conservation Area status from Beaconsfield Estate

The controversy has prompted a strong response from various groups, in the hopes the Council will abandon their plans.

Abundance London founder Dr. Karen Liebreich MBE has vehemently opposed Ealing Council’s plans. Abundance London, the environmental and educational project founded in 2010 to make the most of Chiswick’s public spaces, has been at the forefront of environmental conservation efforts in the area for the past 15 years.

In a letter to Ealing Council in August, Dr. Liebreich highlighted the community’s substantial investment in planting Beaconsfield Gardens, while protesting plans to construct the 20m high fibre-connection ‘monopole’.

More than 60 residents, along with local councillors, have participated in community initiatives including planting thousands of bulbs and maintaining the green space, challenging the characterisation of Beaconsfield Gardens as a mere “grass verge.”

“It seems ominous that exactly when the open space, enjoyed by so many people, as shown not only by the appreciative emails that Abundance receives, but also by the fact that so many have been willing to give up their free time to work in the space, is coming under threat from construction of this large intrusive building proposal, there should also be a proposal to remove Conservation Area status from the neighbourhood.”

Jen Thorndycraft, Abundance Co-ordinator, who lives in Ealing Chiswick, close to the existing conservation area, and who has taken the lead on its regeneration said:

“It would be heartbreaking if the loss of conservation area status resulted in any damage to this increasingly loved and important green space.”

The organisation’s concerns about the proposed telecommunications tower in Beaconsfield Gardens centre on the potential impact on biodiversity and the degradation of a green space that has become a template for successful council-community cooperation.

Image above: Karen Liebreich, An example of a monopole telecommunications tower in Newcastle

Attention drawn to Historic England guidelines

Abundance London say Historic England’s perspective on conservation area designation is crucial in understanding the broader implications of the proposed alterations. Conservation areas are seen as providing general control over demolition and forming the basis for planning policies aimed at conserving all aspects of character and appearance, including landscape and public spaces. The organisation’s stance, critics say, reinforces the importance of thoughtful consideration in any changes to conservation areas.

Historic England notes:

“Conservation area designation introduces a general control over the demolition of unlisted buildings and provides a basis for planning policies whose objective is to conserve all aspects of character or appearance, including landscape and public spaces, that define an area’s special interest.”

Ealing’s Liberal Democrats, including the Leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council and Southfield Ward Councillor Gary Malcolm, have added their voice to the growing dissent. The party argues that conservation areas play a vital role in protecting the character and heritage of neighbourhoods. Cllr Malcolm told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Liberal Democrats say that conservation areas help protect areas and buildings from being downgraded. This, like other examples recently from the Labour run Ealing Council, are an attempt to downgrade Acton and Chiswick. There is a risk that future improvements might not happen.”

Meanwhile the Victorian Society, based in Chiswick, told us they welcomed the other change to conservation areas which affects Chiswick, the inclusion of several more roads in the Bedford Park conservation area.

Connor McNeill, Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society said:

“The Victorian Society welcomes the proposed extension of the Bedford Park Conservation Area to include more historic buildings, this will ensure the preservation of the special character of this important example of Victorian planning.”

Ealing Council is conducting a public consultation on possible changes to Conservation Areas across the borough. The consultation deadline is 31 January 2024 and written responses should be sent to

Public consultation deadline approaches

As the public consultation deadline of January 31, 2024, approaches, residents, community groups, and stakeholders are mobilising to provide their input on the proposed changes.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Cancer survivor brings together famous voices for story telling fundraiser

Image above: Brad Shaw at The Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital

Audiobook challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK

Brad Shaw, a three-time cancer survivor and Chiswick resident, is spearheading an initiative to raise funds for Cancer Research UK through an audiobook recording of Alice Through The Looking Glass.

A voice actor himself, and the founder of ‘Wonderland VO’, Brad is trying to get 175 voice actors to record a minute each of Alice Through the Looking Glass. He has rallied support from well-known voice actors, including fellow Chiswick resident Phyllis Logan, famed for her role as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey.

Brad has a personal connection to the cause, having battled stage three melanoma and prostate cancer, as well as a recent recurrence of melanoma requiring surgery at The Royal Marsden Cancer Hospital. Undeterred, or perhaps spurred on by his health challenges, he has already raised £4,660, primarily from the contributions of participating voice actors and has now upped his goal to £10,000.

For ‘The Wonderland Challenge 2’ he has divided Alice Through The Looking Glass into 175 one-minute segments, each to be recorded by a different actor, with the idea that each would donate at least £10 to Cancer Research UK. Originally his target was to raise £2,000, which he has already more than doubled.

Brad, who successfully orchestrated the Wonderland Challenge during the first lockdown, aims to release the audiobook as a podcast starting on 6 December. Subsequent chapters will follow every two days, with the final three short chapters released together just before Christmas.

To donate follow this link:

Future of Watermans arts centre uncertain

Image above: Impression of the proposed design for the new Watermans

Watermans redevelopment highlighted as a ‘red risk’ in planning report

The future of Watermans arts centre in Brentford is to be discussed at tomorrow’s LB Hounslow Cabinet meeting (14 November).

The existing riverside site is due for demolition and redevelopment as flats as part of the Brentford town redevelopment and the arts centre is scheduled to move to a bigger venue in Brentford, in the old police station.

The Cabinet will be discussing the borough’s Delivery Plan, looking at the progress made on various major projects. The Delivery Plan identifies potential risks associated with ongoing projects, including concerns about inflation, increased material costs, supply chain and labour shortages, heightened borrowing expenses, delays in utility connections, and power supply adequacy.

The construction of 105 new flats and 484m2 of retail space, combined with the development of the new arts centre within a seven-storey block, has been classified as a ‘red risk’ in the report.

Image above: Watermans, as it is currently by the riverside in Brentford

Work must start by April 2024

Approval for the project was granted in 2021, allowing for the transformation of the former police station and the relocation of the existing riverside centre. The proposed Watermans arts centre was designed to feature a larger theatre, two cinemas with a gallery for film festivals, and space for a café/restaurant, totalling 2,776m2. No provision for car parking is included in the plans.

The Albany Riverside development, planned for the site of the current arts centre and the former Max Factor offices, encompasses 193 units in buildings ranging from six to seven storeys. Progress on this development hinges on the completion of the Watermans arts centre at the Half Acre site, a critical component of the affordable housing scheme.

As with all building projects, it has faced escalating costs, which led the Council’s Cabinet to approve recommendations in July to address the funding gap and look for ways to improve the scheme’s viability. A crucial requirement is that work must commence within three years of approval. The permission will lapse in April 2024.

Image above: River-facing side of impression of proposed designs for redevelopment

72 billion litres of raw sewage poured into the Thames over three years

Image above: Scum on the water at Strand on the Green after heavy rain

Thames Water has put 72 billion litres of raw sewage into the Thames since 2020

Thames Water has pumped 72 billion litres of raw sewage into the River Thames since 2020. The figure was revealed by the Liberal Democrats who made an environmental information request.

In July, Thames Water was fined £3.3 million after it killed more than 1400 fish by discharging millions of litres of untreated sewage into rivers.

The site that saw the most amount of water pumped in was Mogden in Twickenham. Here, there were 17.1 billion litres of sewage discharged into the river. The area contains a nature reserve, rare wildlife and areas where people swim.

Theo Thomas, a London Waterkeeper Board member has said: “These figures reveal how much untreated sewage the Thames actually has to deal with.

“While there were fewer overflows in 2022, there was less rain last year. Bill payers’ money is being used to upgrade Mogden Sewage Works, which is very welcome, but Thames Water must use these monitors to prove that investment does reduce the volume of discharges.”

“Rip up” Thames Water and form a new company, says MP Munira Wilson

Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson is calling on the government to “rip up” Thames Water and form a new company. She also said the government should force Thames Water to “install new monitors which measure the volume of sewage discharge.”

She accused the government of “standing idly by whilst our rivers are poisoned and water firm execs pocket millions.”

Miss Wilson is referring to the Liberal Democrat revelation that reveals Thames Water paid their executives £2,415,000 in pay and perks last year. Company House records have revealed the country’s water industry paid out £10 million in executive salaries last year, the highest on record.

The Leader of the Surrey Liberal Democrats, Will Foster mirrored Munira Wilson’s words when he said:

“Our local waterways are being pumped full of raw disgusting sewage, all whilst the water firms hand themselves insulting pay-outs. The whole thing stinks. These salaries and perks have reached eye-watering levels, yet Conservative Ministers refuse to act.

“I was shocked that there was literally no mention of sewage in the King’s Speech.

“It is time to rip up Thames Water, so it no longer puts profit before the environment. The company is clearly not working how it should and is not listening to local concerns on sewage discharges.”

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