Wildlife in the City

By Martin Sepion

Terrapin – Wanstead Park

I have lived in London all my life but was always drawn to the countryside and nature. In my teenage years my family lived in a small flat above a shop on Lea Bridge Road. It was claustrophobic, cold and damp in winter, infused with car fumes (there was lead in petrol in those days and vehicles had no catalytic converters) the thunder of traffic went on all night. Home life became very stressful as our small business slowly became untenable due to the closure of the local factories during the recession of the late 1970s early 1980s. My family were sinking in debt and my parents did not know how to get out of it. Arguments ensued. My escape from this was to roam over Hackney marshes with my dog.

As soon as we escaped the noise of the road we both felt a sense of relief and the stress lifted, we were free, at least for a while. We would walk for miles and miles. Often coming home four hours later. We were at home in the fields and marshes, we didn’t mind the rain, the wind or the cold. We needed the air and the trees. Most of all we needed the quiet and to be away from the mighty road.

Migrant Hawker – Wanstead Park

In my later teenage years I started going camping and on school trips to Scotland, Snowdonia and the Lake District. I jumped at every opportunity to get out of London and breathe fresh air and listen, in wonder, to the silence. I even experienced something wonderful I had never known, the dark.

I was now becoming addicted. So I climbed Cross Fell, Kinder Scout, Snowden, Pen y Fan, Ben Macdui, Tryfan, Blaven, Ben Nevis, Braeriach, Scafell Pike, Skiddaw, Great Gable, Helvellyn and many others. I climbed these mountains many times each. In groups and organised parties, then with friends and finally, alone and in winter. As an adult it went on and I went to the Alps, first Austria and then France and Switzerland. What was I looking for at the end of the rainbow or in this case at the top of the mountain? The freedom of my student days was coming to an end and so, dutifully, I went to work in centrally heated offices. Here I discovered the battle lines were not wrestling your internal vertiginous demons or the murderous icy wind or plotting with map and compass a safe descent route in a whiteout from a steep mountain. No here the struggle was defending your stapler from people with loose papers and surveilling your personal milk bottle in the office fridge. The stress returned as, packed sardine like in carriages, ears pained each time the central line train entered the bend on Bank Station. After thirty years of this I never got used to pushing and shoving, a deficiency in my personality no doubt. Where possible I began to cycle to work and enjoyed some freedom in the morning and evening. However, three muggings within a couple of years put me off the idea for quite some time. A colleague at work asked me about my route home and suggested that it was no wonder I got attacked going down dark canals and alleyways to get home, I realised I still wanted to avoid the roads.

As an antidote to office politics and being inside all day tied to a computer I took up birding at the weekends. I soon was able to recognise the common British birds. I developed an understanding of different habitats and how they each support particular species. I went all over the country visiting reserves. I saw eagles on Arran and Osprey at Loch Garten. I saw Griffon Vultures in Crete and Short Toed Eagles in Italy. It was great. I had a garden by now and was learning about native trees and plants. I decided to garden for wildlife. Biodiversity begins at home. Pesticide use was slowly becoming more responsible and the marshes I roamed as a child were now being transformed into nature reserves. Wildlife was returning. To my utter amazement you could now watch wildlife in London.

You no longer have to travel for three hours to see a buzzard or a peregrine. London is becoming a park city. Each year that goes by sees more chemicals being banned and this results in better environmental health which leads to more fish and insects which in turn results in more birds and mammals.

So if like me, you would like to get away from it all why not explore what is in your local patch. You may be surprised by what you find and you will not have to burn any fossil fuel to get there.

Below are a few photographs of some of what I have seen in my local patch over the past few months. To see higher resolution images visit my Unsplash page

Cormorant – Wanstead Park
Little Egret – Hollow Ponds
Buzzard over my garden in Leytonstone
Rose-Ringed Parakeet – Hollow Ponds, Leytonstone

Looking after our local area

Another Forest Glade Woods litter pick organised by FORA

Another Litter Pick done today! Thanks for all those who helped out and made it happen especially Ali and Jessie Clark-Grant who felt sorry for us while they were doing Yoga and decided to help outūüėÄ. Look forward to you joining the FORA family!

Champion litter pickers Vaseem Gill (FORA Chair) and Martin Sepion (FORA IT Guy)
Foggy autumn in Forest Glade

Walk: Exploring Leytonstone’s connection to the Slave Trade

FREE EVENT: in conjunction with Leytonstone Festival 2019. A Freedom Walk in Leytonstone: Leytonstone’s connections to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and its struggles for a multi-ethnic, multi-faith community.

What did the Buxton family, William Wilberforce and others have in common with the slave trade‚Äôs abolition and history. Horace Waller missionary and campaigner once lived at the Leytonstone Vicarage (now Matalan) where Abdullah Susi and a former child slave, James Chuma once lived for a spell in 1874. What mission were they engaged on? ‚ÄúRemembering Slavery and it‚Äôs legacy 1807 ‚Äď 2007‚ÄĚ author, writer and academic Peter Ashan (himself a child of Empire and Windrush) will lead this enlightening journey of exploration and discovery. Part of the Leytonstone Festival

Meet in St John’s Church forecourt , E11 1HH. Two minutes walk from Leytonstone Tube and bus station

Route takes us to Leytonstone House and Quaker House (Bushwood)

NB https://vestryhousemuseum.org.uk/windrush/

With thanks also to https://www.stjohns-leytonstone.org.uk/

Picture Credit : The Leyton and Leytonstone Historical Society

NB : Participants are solely responsible for their own safety during the event

For Team FORA
A A Fernandes


London City Airport are proposing to increase the number of flights coming in and out of the airport come along to make your voice heard

30th July 2019, 7.30-9pm Buxton School, Cann Hall Road, Ell 3NN

Cann Hall Area Residents Association @CHARAresidents chararesidents@gmail.com

Meeting being held in association with Cann Hall Area Residents Association (CHARA) and several other local Residents Associations, John Cryer – MP for Leyton & Wanstead, John Stewart Chair – HACAN East (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) and representatives from London City Airport

‚ÄúOriginally City Airport had no plans to hold a consultation event in Redbridge or Waltham Forest. I am glad that working with John Cryer we managed to persuade City Airport to engage with the local community by attending our meeting on 30th July‚ÄĚ Sara Coakley Chair, CHARA

‚ÄúWith local Councillors, residents and residents‚Äô groups alongside the ever helpful HACAN East, I have been in touch with City Airport on many occasions over the last few years on the changes to flight patterns, expansion at City Airport and now the changes to the numbers of flights. I represent a constituency across two boroughs, both of which are very much affected by aircraft noise. With Waltham Forest being one of the most overflown boroughs in London. I hope as many local residents as possible can come along to this meeting and make their voice heard‚ÄĚ John Cryer MP

You can contact John via email: john.cryer.mp@parliament.uk Subject: Overflights or on Twitter @JohnCryerMP

New Community Noticeboard outside 87 Colworth Road E11 1JA

Eighteen months ago FORA Vice Chair Tony Fernandes applied for funding via the LBWF ward funding process and our bid, for a community noticeboard, was approved. Today FORA has been given the keys so we are now able to put up leaflets and information about what is going on locally. We hope that you will find this additional way of keeping in touch with neighbours useful and interesting.

Our special thanks to Steve Halter and Ruth Mitchell of LBWF and also to LBWF Cllrs Shabhana Dhedhi , Gerry Lyons , Kastriot Berberi and Cllr Clyde Loakes who supported our bid.  

Please feel free to send any local community  events etc ,  you wish to publicise via e-mail to info.fora@hotmail.com by Friday, close of play each week . 

*These should ideally be in the form of a PDF or Word doc. and a max of 1 page per event ,subject to availability of space . Preference will be offered to FORA members and ward locals in fairness , but everyone is welcome to send in appropriate content.  

Every Sunday evening , the notice board will be refreshed as appropriate 

If urgent , we can certainly send out via social media ,mailing lists etc as appropriate but for the sake of practicality , for now hard copy updating can only happen once weekly . 

We will review how that works and improve on that in due course ,as time and offers of assistance make possible 

Ideally, please mail or drop off your hard copy at 101 Whipps Cross Road, generic  mailbox slot ,for the Attention of  A A Fernandes . This minimizes any printing, time etc costs to FORA 

Further arrangements to drop off hard copy at a local shop adjacent to noticeboard are being negotiated 

If urgent i.e lost pets etc , you may of course,  post on the exposed BACK of the notice board, but please ensure it is covered in plastic protector or similar against the elements . You will need Blu tack of similar to do so. 

Round up of issues affecting Leytonstone Residents

FORA’s committee met last night (11th March 2019) and discussed many current issues and events in Leytonstone and I thought I would share these with you.

Due to a strong response from residents across London there will be a further consultation over the concentrated flight paths of aircraft coming from City Airport. City airport has grown markedly since it’s opening and is now allowed to operate larger aircraft directly over Leytonstone. Flight paths have also been concentrated leaving residents with 18 hours per day of aircraft noise pollution. We will be following HACAN East to get news of the consultation period and let you know as soon as we can.

Events: FORA has a litter pick on Sat 6th April and our AGM (with talk on the NHS and Fish & Chip supper) on Sat 4th May 6-9pm. Further events are being planned, so watch this space.

Concern has been raised as to how the new street cycle lockers are allocated. Our view is that people living in flats with nowhere to store bikes should be given priority. As a FORA resident living in flats in Dyson Road has been unsuccessful in her request for a space in a cycle locker.

There has been a consultation on redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital and questions have been raised by local residents about how this will impact upon hospital users. Hospitals belong to the nation but the land appears to have been sold to private property developers. Proposals will leave fewer beds supporting a growing population.

FORA has secured funding for a community noticeboard to be installed on the corner of Colworth and Preston Roads. We are open to suggestions for how this could benefit local residents.

The speed limit on Whipps Cross Road has been reduced from 40 to 30mph please be careful not to get a ticket as you use this road.

Questions were raised about who in the council to raise the issue of vehicles parking on the pavement. The CPZ parking enforcement do not appear to be responsible for these infringements. Pavement parking is particularly hazardous to the elderly, disabled and children using the footpaths.

FORA planted bulbs last October and have begun to see daffodils emerging from the base of street trees. We are pleased to have had many compliments for the way this has brightened up the area.

FORA has been liaising with other Leytonstone based residents associations and have agreed to work together on a number of issues relevant to all residents in Leytonstone.

If you would like to raise an issue or help us out with an event or activity get in touch via the following e-mail address info.fora@hotmail.com

Martin Sepion,
FORA Committee

Martin Sepion, FORA Committee

Lovely evening at FORA Christmas get together

Vaseem leading the way

Our thanks to all who attended and supported and continue to do so year round. We had a good turnout of members and supporters. Including Forest ward Cllrs Shabana Dhedhi and Gerry Lyons.

Recognition also due to Chair Vaseem Gill, Tony Fernandes, Martin Sepion, Heather Semmens, Najma Mir, Trevor Hurst, Louise Buchanan, Alan Marvin and June Marvin of Team FORA who drive it.

Sadly founder/member Trevor Goodchild was unable to join us yesterday but nonetheless very much appreciated.
Wishing well for the season and 2019
Stay blessed and blissed
Tony Fernandes, Vice Chair FORA

Tony finishing his first course
The Star of India made sure nobody left hungry 

The Cultural Hotspot that is Leytonstone

Leytonstone in East London is ideally located with excellent transport links into and out of the city of London. Via London underground central line you can be in the City or West End within 30 minutes while the road network links well with the M25 and M11 motorways. Leytonstone itself, while being a London suburb, is surrounded by open space. Epping Forest lies to the north, Wanstead Flats and Park to the east, with Hackney Marshes and the Olympic Park to the south and west.  In the middle of this green space Leytonstone forms an island of largely Victorian terraced housing resulting in an area with a strong sense of identity.

Leytonstone Tube Station North By Northwest Mosaic

Within Leytonstone you will find:

  • Leytonstone Film Club
  • The Woodhouse Players Amateur Dramatic Company
  • The Stone Space and Mind The Gap Art Galleries
  • Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society
  • Local Markets featuring local made/produced items
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Society – Alfred Hitchcock of Leytonstone Society
  • Several Active Residents Associations
  • Stone Rangers – Leytonstone Branch Women’s Institute
  • The East Side Jazz Club – East Side Jazz Club hosts the best musicians in London
  • Wanstead Flats Parkrun
  • News From Nowhere Club – monthly talks covering a wide range of topics
  • A regular Makers Market
  • An annual festival
  • Many great pubs and restaurants offering food, music and a wide range of other activities

This is a flavour of what Leytonstone has to offer. For a fuller list with links see our Lovely Leytonstone page.

FREE :Live Music -Entertainment also featuring Ian Greer in aid of “Homes for Heroes” Charity


Charity Night Saturday 22nd of September 7.30pm at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club,Leytonstone (also known as the Leytonstone Social Club) Harvey Road, Leytonstone. (next to Red Lion)

The event is in support of Homes For Heroes http://www.ukhomes4heroes.com/ ,a charity that finds accommodation for ex service men and women.

Entry is free and there will be some great live music and a raffle with some fantastic prizes.

Location map