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Community Bytes

A newsletter from your local charity focusing on community spaces across Merton, and how we use these to connect people, places and passions.
A Note From The Wimbledon Community Association (WCA)

Welcome to the first 2019 edition of Community Bytes, our regular e-newsletter which brings you community related news alongside a range of other topics. In this edition, our monthly spotlight focuses on the embodiment of community spirit and the ways in which our contributions to society can live on beyond our lifetimes. To celebrate the start of a new year, we share the success story of a new creative community event taking place at South Park Gardens, we report on the First Give UK Final that our WCA Chair David Hall joined as part of the judging panel, and we give one final summary of #MerryMerton.

In recent weeks we have also launched a survey to find out your views on community spaces across Merton and our Wimblecomm website. We have had some interesting responses so far, but would still love to hear from you so click here to access the survey today.

On a final note, we hope you enjoy reading 2019's first edition of Community Bytes, and encourage you to connect with us on social media to stay updated on all Wimblecomm matters. If you would like to receive future editions straight to your inbox, make sure you visit us at Wimblecomm and subscribe.

The Team at WCA

Community Updates

Key Dates for Your Diary

As of recent weeks, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy some milder temperatures and longer days. For some this may have resulted in more time to get things done during the day, and may be one of many reasons behind an increase of event submissions on our Community Noticeboard. In this section and on our Community Noticeboard, you will find a selection of events taking place at our member venues.

Our listed events cater to people of all ages and backgrounds so do have a look and feel free to share amongst your friends, family, and anyone else in the community who may be interested. 

Venues on Wimblecomm

We are delighted to still offer free listings for not-for-profit venues that hire out community space in Merton, so if this applies, do get in touch today. We also encourage commercial venues that are interested in advertising on Wimblecomm to contact us and find out about our competitive advertising rates.

Pictured above is South Mitcham Community Centre's Dance and Fitness Studio. The SMCC also offer a number of other spaces for hire at competitive rates. You can view their Lounge, Main Hall and Meeting Room on Wimblecomm and enquire at just the touch of a button today.

If you are interested in registering your venue on Wimblecomm, or would like to suggest a community space for hire that we don't already have listed, we would love to hear from you. Find out more about listing a venue here.  Our membership policy for 2018/19 can be downloaded here, and our new flyer can be downloaded here.

This Month's Spotlight -
Community Spirit Lives On

For this month's Spotlight, David Hall has written a piece on the embodiment of community spirit and how the amazing works of Dame June Whitfield and Tony Kane (pictured below) continue to live on in our Merton communities and beyond.

The deaths of two Wimbledon stalwarts at the end of last year Dame June Whitfield and Tony Kane, reminded me of the importance of recognising the significant contribution that we can all make to our local community here in Merton.

Dame June Whitfield was of course celebrated nationally and beyond for her appearances in sitcoms Terry and June and Absolutely Fabulous but her long career had many other highlights on TV, film and radio.  As a local resident for many years she also got involved in the community with roles as President of the Wimbledon FC Supporters Club  - and more recently as Honorary President of Carlton Theatre Group.

It was in the latter role that I was fortunate to meet her when I was Chair of Carlton and she was our honoured guest at one of our productions, and our Carlton Summer Party in 2010.  I remember how she particularly charmed my late father in law (who was the same age as her) when they met at the party.  Her wisdom and insight was very useful to young and older aspiring actors alike!

Tony Kane had a significant presence locally having set up Time & Leisure with his daughter Lucy some 21 years ago, or T&L (also their initials) as he joked in one of his final articles celebrating the local magazine.

Tony was also a driving force behind setting up Wimbledon Bookfest in 2006 with Fiona Razvi which has been an inspiration to other local events such as Wimbledon Music Festival and Merton Arts Festival. His passion for the arts extended to running his own art studio, and he had published children’s stories and a novel (If Britain Had Fallen) in 2017. He was also recently in discussion with Carlton about performing a play he was writing.  T&L has been sponsoring the Wimbledon Studio Theatre during the last year or so.
Wimbledon’s future was important to Tony who became an active member of the Friends of Wimbledon Town Centre in recent years and he was a panellist at the WCA workshop on the future of community space in November 2016.

Many people pass on within our community each year, some more celebrated than others, and their passing will have an effect on the people who know and love them. As a website which is seeking to embrace all that is good about Wimbledon and Merton more widely, we welcome any articles commemorating the contributions of people who have added to our vibrant local community in whatever capacity.

Recent Events in Our Community

First Give Event
Written by Jackie Chapman, WCA Secretrary

Wimbledon Community Association was very honoured to be asked to participate on the judging panel of a school project in one of our member venues, Wimbledon College just before Christmas. I attended to write up this report and our Chair, David Hall, was also delighted to attend as one of the judging panel. The project was being run by First Give, an organisation that works in partnership with secondary schools to help young people to give their time, tenacity and talents to improve their local communities.

The students’ task was to work in small groups to support charities chosen by the students. They had been working on the project for a number of weeks, developing a relationship with their charities and working on different ways to raise awareness of its work in their local community. All classes in Year 9 had participated, and seven presenting groups made it to the final to represent their class on Monday 17 December, at which they were to present the results of their findings to their Year 9 classmates, teachers and the panel of judges. The prize for the winning team was a £1,000 First Give Grant to be donated to their charity.

What was particularly striking was the range of charities selected, encompassing support for a mix of age ranges and social issues; Faith in Action dealing with homelessness; Born Too Soon fundraising for Kingston Hospital’s neo natal unit; Wimbledon Foodbank; Jigsaw 4U supporting children who face difficult times, for example, following bereavement; Stem4 targeting early identification of commonly occurring mental health issues in teenagers and AFC Wimbledon Foundation, promoting the power of sport, in particular football, to engage the whole community and change lives. In the latter case, the students highlighted the work done by AFC Wimbledon Foundation to reach out to people with dementia.

Teams were marked on their knowledge of their chosen charity, their creativity and delivery plus the social action and impact of their project. Throughout the presentations, there were excellent examples of creativity with poetry, video, computer graphics, social media interaction and role play. Some teams also managed to engage very imaginatively with their audience. They all successfully showcased the aims and work of their chosen charity, and particularly demonstrated great insight into how much each achieves with voluntary input and limited resources. All could convey the impact £1,000 would have.

The winners were one of two groups supporting Faith in Action, and were the group who best brought most of these features together.

Well done to all involved – the students and their teachers, and First Give, the organisers. Voluntary service is vital for all sorts of reasons, and this project will hopefully lay down the foundation of community spirit in this generation. Plus along the way, they’ve learned some key life skills – teamwork; research and public speaking.

Artworx Art Event - A Success Story
Written by Kumi Muttu

Nailed it! The day began like no other...dry, bright and sunny! South Park Gardens was full of families with children, and their energy filled us with the same as we began our endless task of setting up for this event we had been promoting for weeks. Slowly but surely we started making progress and our venue walls filled up with beautiful original, contemporary artworks by Emily Finch, Kumi Muttu and Marta Pesce.

The tables in the room also displayed beautiful artworks by the artists. There was a table for canapés, deliciously warm spiced fruit punch, and mulled wine (non-alcoholic!) sourced from local caterer Jil Hall. Then there was a table for kids activities where we challenged each child to copy a cartoon image and rewarded them with sweets for best effort.

Mozart played gently in the background filling the room with creative energy, a spiced cinnamon candle was lit in the corner and decorative ornaments were in place. With our guest list in hand, we were ready to mingle at 1pm as promised! Our first guest arrived and the room picked up pace quickly as we welcomed new arrivals with delicious food and drink.  From here, conversations about our mutual love for art amongst other things easily flowed filling the room with atmosphere. Before we knew it, the all important sales started rolling in and appreciation of our creativity started to shine. Within the first hour of the event opening, all participating artists had made a sale which boosted our enthusiasm and confidence by a mile! Families with children had a nice time too, as they let their children have a go at the challenge which resulted in happy little faces once they achieved their goal (and won the prize of sweets!)

We had chosen a perfect location for an event such as this; the room had a nice vibe set in a beautiful award winning garden in Wimbledon. Almost everyone who attended bought one or two artwork(s) and all of the participating artists made sales. We had a blast hosting this event and I want to say a special thanks to my dear friends Sirish Gurung and Heba Jamaa, and my sisters Lohini Rajagopal and Oala Muttu who came to support and help us at the event. Then there is my brother in-law Sujit Tracy-Sujit Muttucumaraswamy who took all the event photos. It was truly amazing having your support as your help was invaluable and made Artworx, The Art Event successful.

We have one final task of choosing the winner of the Sunflower painting and we will notify the winner via email soon. With the winner's permission, we will then post the winner details on our Facebook page.

Charity Note: We have raised £50 for our chosen charity Children with Cancer [including some change from the collection tin] and look forward to supporting them with our future events.

A BIG thank you to all the attendees of the Artworx, The Art Event. your support is what made this event a huge success!

Wrapping Up Merry Merton
Written by Genevieve Etienne-Farrell

Throughout the month of December, we took to social media to share 31 merry memories of great things that have happened across Merton during 2018. If you follow us on social media or subscribe to this newsletter, you will already be aware of #MerryMerton and can now read our summary of some of Merton’s Best Bits of 2018 below.

With so much festive activity happening in the lead up to Christmas, it seemed rather fitting to launch our Merry Merton campaign with the beautifully lit Love Wimbledon Christmas Tree located outside Wimbledon Station. Despite the beauty of the tree itself, this wonderful festive addition to Wimbledon also featured a signpost which offered directions to various local theatre shows and community spaces including the Wimbledon Winter Wonderland which took place on the first weekend of December.

By the second weekend of December, festive celebrations had extended further than the Broadway and travelled up into Wimbledon Village where an action-packed family day entitled Christmas in the Village took place. The day itself included an appearance from Santa, a performance from the Wimbledon Choral Society, and the switching on of the Christmas lights by the War Memorial.

With so much happening in Wimbledon Village, our attention was then drawn to Wimbledon Common which hosted several memorable events during 2018. The two events that we focused on during #MerryMerton both occurred in October; one was Wimbledon Guild’s Waggy Walk which saw the Common welcome almost 200 dog walkers, friends and families, and their dogs. By coming together for this event, everyone involved raised £5000 to support people affected by social isolation and loneliness, which featured as one of Merton Giving’s Giving Stories last year.

The second event was Wimbledon Bookfest 2018 which created 10 Magical Days on the Common. With its large volunteer input and a small team of core workers, the festival was a great success and sealed its place as one of Wimbledon’s highlights of the year! To find out more about this great festival, you can read a synopsis of one of the festival’s sold out events of 2018 on our Wimblecomm blog and see what this year’s festival entailed in the September edition of our Community Bytes newsletter.

As a local charity in Merton, we love to see people come together for the greater good of the community as they did above, and greatly appreciate the work of volunteers who take their time and efforts to give back to others. In line with this, we celebrated Local Charities Day on 14th December 2018, and used #MerryMerton to celebrate charitable events that occurred across the Merton borough throughout the year. Although we didn’t manage to cover everything, head over to our blog to continue reading this summary and see if your venue or a venue near you was featured.

From the Wimblecomm Blog...
On our blog, we often feature articles such as event reviews or ideas of things that you can do in your local community. As this is a growing feature on Wimblecomm, we would like to remind you that our featured blogs are not limited to the above and can be anything that you feel contributes to the greater good of communities with Merton and beyond.

So if you have any ideas or articles that you would like to see featured on our blog or in the next edition of our Community Bytes newsletter, please do not hesitate to get in touch. As always, we are happy to explore any ideas with you, and can assist at any point within the writing process. We all have a voice so why not let yours be heard?

Updates on Community Projects in Merton

St Saviour's Church WW1 War Memorial Restoration

To mark the centenary of the WW1 Armistice, St.Saviour’s church in Grand Drive held a two week exhibition, “The Men of Raynes Park, 1914-18,” to remember and honour the 97 men who lost their lives in the Great War. Their names are recorded on a community memorial that stands in the church’s grounds, erected in 1921 with public subscriptions, and many of these men would have come from the Apostle Road’s, Raynes Park.

St. Saviour’s was delighted that so many people from the surrounding community came to see the exhibition, in particular at the opening day on Saturday 26th October and on Remembrance Day itself, on each of which more than 200 people attended.

The names on the WW1 memorial are now no longer legible and they have embarked on a project to restore it so that the men and the sacrifices they made are always remembered. They have obtained formal tenders from contractors to carry out the work and are seeking approval from the Diocese of Southwark and the War Memorials Trust. However, they face a funding shortfall of around £10,000. The total cost of the work is likely to be over £22,000 and the donations and pledges from the community raised to date are around £12,000. This includes the many wonderful contributions made through the exhibition.

While they await the necessary approvals, they are pursuing further fund raising, with application to local businesses, and intend to make contact with all those who have already pledged support to provide details of when the funds will be needed. But, given the funding gap, it seems likely that they will still need more support from the community. So they would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to help. Please do get in touch with them directly via the below details: any donation would be much appreciated, especially as it could be Gift Aided at no cost to the giver if they are paying Income Tax.

With grateful thanks for your support.

Contact details to obtain donation/pledge forms: The Administrator, Parish Office, St Saviour’s Church, Grand Drive, London SW20 9DL / / 0208 540 9406

Polka Theatre's Redevelopment - 40 Years Coming...

Following generous grants from the Mayor of London's Good Growth Fund, Arts Council England, London Borough of Merton and many other vital funders, the Polka temporarily closed its doors on 18 February 2019 for a major redevelopment, reopening in summer 2020. This will be the first redevelopment in their 40 year history.

They will soon be announcing their plans for Polka40, the forthcoming season bringing Polka into the community. Follow the Polka Theatre on social media for the latest news.

In the meantime, keep reading to find out more on their plans and how you can get involved.

The Plans

  • Indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Multisensory garden
  • Dedicated buggy park, new toilet and baby change facilities
  • Larger Cafe
  • A new Adventure Theatre
  • Dedicated Creative Learning Studio

Want to get involved?

They are currently looking for a team of Polka volunteers to help take them into their next exciting chapter.

Want to help further?

They still have £1 million left to raise of their FUTURE POLKA redevelopment target, and they need your help! Explore their interactive building plans to sponsor a part of the building from as little as £5. Or you can simply donate by clicking here.

We look forward to hearing more about the upcoming developments at the Polka Theatre, and invite you all to check out the launch of its new intergenerational choir Re:Sound which launches on 19th March 2019. You can find out more information about this event on our Community Noticeboard.
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Copyright © 2018 Wimbledon Community Association, All rights reserved.
We are creating this local newsletter as a part of our community service to keep members of the local community up-to-date with all things happening in Merton. Alongside our website 'Wimblecomm'; we actively support not-for-profit venues in the local area who hire out space and help to connect people with places, and their passions.

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Our mailing address is:
Wimbledon Community Association Limited
c/o 66 Kings Road
London SW19 8QW


Registered Charity No 1097305
Company Number 03825493

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Wimbledon Community Association · 66 Kings Road · Wimbledon, London SW19 8QW · United Kingdom

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