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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 Community Bytes, a quarterly e-newsletter that brings you Merton related community news, alongside a range of other topics and events happening across our borough. In this edition, we update you on our Summer in Merton competition which encourages young people within the borough to get creative and share their summer experiences with us for a chance to win fantastic prizes ranging from Cinema Tickets to Gift Cards, to a Junior Tennis Membership. If somehow you have managed to miss our competition this summer, we have extended the deadline to this Sunday so there is still time to spread the word and enter.

As we look forward to another weekend of exploring the borough with Merton Arts Festival before we head up to the Common for Wimbledon Bookfest in the coming weeks, join Genevieve as she gets behind the scenes of both events and interviews Wendy McTernan of Merton Arts Festival and Fiona Razvi of Wimbledon Bookfest.

We also take things back to the height of Summer as Naomi Martin reflects on the annual Pollards Hill Family Fun Day, and then look to the future with Jonathan Parker who draws up some ideas about the future of Wimbledon Town Centre. As always, the content continues on our blog so be sure to keep an eye on our website for updates in between these quarterly newsletters.

We do hope you enjoy reading this 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 & Wimblecomm

Key Dates for Your Diary

We regularly update our Events Calendar with activities and events taking place at community spaces across Merton, and sometimes further afield. In this section, we highlight a couple of key dates and events for your diary, but direct you to our Events Calendar for a more comprehensive schedule of events to look out for in the coming months. If there are any Autumn/Winter events including any firework displays that you would like to see featured on Wimblecomm, simply get in touch or submit your event today.

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

Wimblecomm Spotlight - Merton Arts Festival 2019

Genevieve Speaks to Wendy McTernan of Merton Arts Festival

Merton Arts Festival, formerly known as Merton Arts Trail, was founded in 2010 when two local artists came together with the idea of creating an art trail. After a successful year in preparation, the festival officially launched in 2011 and is now going into its 9th year of operation. Based across the entire borough of Merton, this festival encourages people to Discover Art and Discover Merton this September. Genevieve Etienne-Farrell speaks to Wendy McTernan, one of the festival organisers, to find out more.

Merton Arts Festival has been running for quite some years now. Tell me more about its journey to date.
Since the launch of Merton Arts Festival, it has run every single year, and artists open houses and studios have remained its prime focus. After 2015, the original Co-Founders Wendy Bliss and Chrissie Craig were looking for someone else to take it over which is when myself and Ben Nicolas got wind of the opportunity. Alongside Claire Morgan, we formed a successful team of 3 and took over the festival in 2016.

We introduced a theme for artists to explore in their works – Lost & Found in 2016, Reflection & Transformation in 2017 and then Taking Liberties in 2018. As well as this, we curated themed shows across the borough, and hosted a range of workshops, demonstrations and talks for the community to get involved with. For our upcoming festival, we have collaborated with local community groups and Hillside Church who are doing a month-long arts festival linking in with MAF. They will be providing talks on both Sundays of the festival (22nd September and 29th September 2019,) and at different locations within Merton, artists are providing three workshops and demos teaching you How to Make Ink from Oak Galls, How to Make a Silver Ring, and Throw a Pot on the Wheel.

This year we also have a slightly different team but have welcomed back one of the original co-Founders Wendy Bliss which is rather exciting. With next year being our 10th year anniversary, we are hoping to do something special to celebrate the occasion.

Quite amazingly, MAF is run entirely by volunteers. How do you manage to keep volunteer input so consistent?
Thankfully we have a dedicated team of volunteers, and together we have kept the festival running for 9 years. Most of the volunteers are artists themselves and exhibit at the festival, whilst others simply have an interest in art and the community, as well as some expertise that adds to the team. Moving forwards, we are hoping to raise sponsorship to fund a Project Manager who will work amongst our great team of volunteers helping us to grow MAF and make the behind the scenes work that bit more seamless.

What makes Merton Arts Festival different?
Entrance to all venues is completely free so people don’t have to pay to get involved. We want Merton Arts Festival to remain a grassroots event that is open to everyone, so we encourage everyone to get out into the borough and explore. At local libraries across the borough, Fielders Art Shop in Wimbledon, and other public places, you can pick up a free brochure outlining this year’s trail and all our activities.

To find out more about what the future of Merton Arts Festival looks like and what they have in store for us next, continue reading on the Wimblecomm blog.


Recent Events in Our Community

Pollards Hill Family Fun Day 2019
Written by Naomi Martin

The Commonside Community Development Trust brings life to Mitcham’s New Horizon Centre throughout the year, with the school holidays being no exception. Having just wrapped up their spectacular Summer Holiday programme as the kids returned to school, Naomi Martin takes us back to a sunny day in August when they headed to Donnelly Green for their annual Pollards Hill Family Fun Day.

This year’s event was a joint celebration with Paul Strank Roofing (a major sponsor of Commonside’s work who are celebrating their 50th year in business,) and was also kindly supported by United Living and Moat.

Children were well occupied with a bouncy castle, sweet treats such as candy floss and popcorn, the Delrose Earle double decker bus, children’s photography, face painters, science tasters, Ministry of Giggles children’s entertainer and giant outdoor games. All of which proved very popular alongside the BBQ, and the pop-up Africafe Soul Delight (available at the New Horizon Centre every Saturday afternoon) where business didn’t stop for four days. And if people weren’t already spoilt for choice, we sold cakes that had been freshly baked the day before, along with tea, coffee, soft drinks, and ice lollies from our café.

We were fortunate with the weather and enjoyed some great tunes as well as the chance to talk about our work with Radio Jackie who broadcasted live from the New Horizon Centre from 12 noon to 4pm. Our guest of honour was Danny Boy Hatchard, of EastEnders and Our Girl, who was kind enough to pose for selfies with fans and help Paul Strank to judge the fancy-dress competition. Three sets of lucky children won free entrance vouchers for two at Oxygen FreeJumping Croydon – thank you to Oxygen FreeJumping for kindly donating these!

Click here to continue reading this article on the Wimblecomm blog and find out more about the special appearance of some wonderful donkeys!

Wimbledon Town Neighbourhood Forum
Written by Jonathan Parker and Susanne Ollig

Have you been thinking about what will happen to Wimbledon town centre over time?  Perhaps you've heard about 'neighbourhood plans', and are wondering whether such a plan could help residents and businesses shape the future of our town centre?

These questions, along with a wonderful display of thought-provoking drawings of Wimbledon buildings and scenes, were at the centre of a recent Wimbledon Civic Forum event, organised by local artist Jonathan Parker with the help of Marcus Beale Architects, held at Merton Art Space at the back of Wimbledon Library.

The event was chaired by the president of the Civic Forum, Stephen Hammond MP, and attended by Anthony Wilkinson who updated the attendees on the ongoing Wimbledon Concert Hall project.

An insight into the event and concept of a neighbourhood plan from the perspective of event organiser, Jonathan Parker ...

“What will happen to our town?” is a question that concerns many people including myself. I have been living in Wimbledon since 1993. In 2018, when I heard how important a neighbourhood plan could be when dealing with issues raised by planning proposals, particularly when it relates to building heights, I started drawing contemporary Wimbledon and joined the Wimbledon Neighbourhood Plan Working Group.

Click here to continue reading about the possible future of Wimbledon Town Centre on our blog, and how Jonathan sees his art in the context of a neighbourhood plan.

Community Updates

Summer in Merton 2019 Competition

Written by Genevieve Etienne-Farrell

This Summer, we launched our brand new Summer in Merton art competition giving young people from the ages of 4-18 the opportunity to show off their creative talents and share their experience of Summer in our wonderful borough of Merton. All eligible entrants are in with the chance of winning some fantastic prizes from local businesses and retailers. Read on for more details on how to enter, how the competition will be judged, and what prizes are on offer.

With Merton having won a Cultural Impact Award as part of the Mayor of London’s London Borough of Culture Initiative, we recognise the borough as a very creative and thriving place to be. Merton is also the home to widely acclaimed annual events such as Wimbledon Bookfest, Merton Arts Festival, and the Wimbledon International Music Festival so we are aiming to keep the momentum going on our borough’s overall creative efforts.

How to Enter

We are asking young people in Merton aged 4-18 to get as creative as they like and send in one of the below.

  1. A picture of a drawing or painting that they have created that captures their ‘Summer in Merton’
  2. A written piece that captures their ‘Summer in Merton’

Prizes to be Won

We are fortunate enough to live in a borough where local businesses and organisations are happy to support local charities like us, so that we can continue to bring Merton’s communities together through our online Community Hub Wimblecomm. Moreover, we would like to thank the below businesses and organisations who have donated some fantastic prizes for our winners. Please see the list below for all of the prizes available and do show these local businesses some love.

  1. The Entertainer – £15 Gift Card
  2. The Odeon in Wimbledon – 2x Guest Pass Tickets
  3. Wafflemeister in Wimbledon – Voucher for 1x Sharing Box of 4 Plain Signature Waffles
  4. Wahaca in Wimbledon – 1x £40 meal voucher
  5. Cranleigh Tennis – 1x Junior Membership (worth £40)
  6. Fielders Art & Craft gift/voucher (worth £40)
For more information on how to submit your entries and check your eligibility, click here and get submitting today! All entries must be received by our extended deadline which is now Sunday 29th September 2019 (UK time.) Winners will be notified within a month of the competition’s closing date, and winners will be chosen by members of the WCA team, and two guest judges from the local Worple Art Group.

Friends of Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Written by Diane Neil Mills

For years, what many of us have referred to as The Common has been a major part of our town and community, and one that we so often visit for leisurely strolls, outdoor exercise, or events. In this article, the Chairman of Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators Diane Neil Mills shares its history, details on how this wonderful outdoor space is maintained, and how you can be a part of it moving forwards as they launch Friends of Wimbledon and Putney Commons.

Wimbledon and Putney Commons were established by an Act of Parliament in 1871 that transferred the land from Earl Spencer to a Board of Conservators and placed a duty upon them ‘to preserve, protect and enhance the Commons for the purposes of exercise and recreation’.

The Commons provide 1,140 acres of public open space comprising Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common. The diversity of landscape and ecology distinguishes the land amongst open spaces in London. Designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ and a ‘Special Area of Conservation’, the Commons comprise a mosaic of ancient heathlands, acidic grasslands, woodlands and wetlands and provide an important home for wildlife.

The Commons are managed by a team of 23 staff, most of whom live on site for the ‘better performance of their duties’. Five mounted Keepers patrol the Commons on horseback ensuring that the Commons remain a safe and enjoyable place to visit. The Maintenance Team is responsible for the entire estate management and the Richards Evans Memorial Playing Fields are managed by a small but dedicated team of groundsmen. The Head Ranger at Putney Lower Common is responsible for patrolling and estate management. There is also a small team of office staff supporting the Chief Executive.

The Commons are used for a wide range of events, from the weekly Parkrun to the annual Bookfest. Our work as stewards of the Commons is to endeavour to strike the right balance between use for more formal recreational activities, whilst ensuring that other users enjoyment of the Commons is not adversely affected. If an organisation is interested in holding an event on the Commons, we ask that organisers contact the Ranger's Office, details for which are set out below.

In recognition of the passion and commitment within the local community for the Commons, the Conservators are launching the ‘Friends of Wimbledon and Putney Commons’. It is an opportunity to support the Commons and contribute towards the upkeep of this unique piece of countryside in London. A special event to mark the official launch of the Friends took place on the evening of the 20th September 2019 at the Windmill, so if this is an opportunity that is of interest, you can find out more information and get in touch via their official website.

For a more in-depth version of this article, please visit our blog. You can also sign up to their e-newsletter here to receive more information and updates on how you can support your Commons.

Wimblecomm Spotlight - Wimbledon Bookfest

Interview with Fiona Razvi by Genevieve Etienne-Farrell

On a recent Friday afternoon, Genevieve caught up with Fiona Razvi, Festival Director of Wimbledon BookFest to learn about the magic behind the festival and discuss how it has grown to become one of Wimbledon’s most talked-about events of the year.

Wimbledon BookFest is branded as 10 Magical Days on Wimbledon Common, so where did the magic initially begin?
Wimbledon BookFest works with schools all year round, so 10 days on Wimbledon Common is only part of the magic. The magic really begins by putting the audience (our community) in contact with the authors and creators, and then bringing them all together. There is also something special about the temporary nature of our set-up because what may be considered as a piece of land on one day, is transformed by a couple of tents and turns into a huge party the next day. In the same way that Wimbledon Common is owned by the community, Wimbledon BookFest is also owned by the community, and it is these connections that create the magic.

Wimbledon BookFest is a registered charity; did you begin as a charity from day one?
We have always been a charity; it has always been about the community and not financial gain. Tony Kane and I previously worked at Time & Leisure and kicked this off on the side of our journalist jobs. We both wanted to be engaged with the community of Merton and often spent time talking to and interviewing local musicians and artists. It was after attending the Hay Festival in Wales, probably one of the biggest book festivals out there, that we decided that we wanted to replicate this concept closer to home.

As a cultural and educational charity, our ongoing charitable efforts are delivered through a lot of our educational work which is borough wide. We engage over 70 schools within Merton in our annual Young Writers Competition, and whilst it is still growing, approximately 62 schools have taken part this year. Each year, the prize giving ceremony for this competition takes place at Wimbledon Theatre which is another valued space within our community. We have run this competition for the past 13 years and have worked with lots of different partners including the Merton Music Foundation, Wimbledon Film Club, Jigsaw Players and much more. Being a festival allows us to work with many different local groups and organisations, and from venues to our partners you can see that everything is about giving back to our community.

What would you say your role, or the role of Wimbledon BookFest is in the community?
Whilst Wimblecomm is a hub, Wimbledon BookFest is also a hub but in a different way. Through our activities, we connect schools, the public sector, businesses, and the local council. Some of the organisations that we have worked with most recently include Merton Libraries and the Merton Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout the year, we put on over 100 events! Earlier on in the year, we visit publishers and pitch for them to feature in the festival. We always celebrate World Book Day, and we run our Robert Graves poetry competition which is awarded to the winner(s) during the 10 days on the Common. This year, we also launched our first Spring BookFest which is now being scheduled for every 2 years.

For residents, we provide entertainment for all to enjoy and events are already selling out for Wimbledon BookFest this year. People tend to buy tickets to more than one event and have said that BookFest is something to look forward to and something that lifts their spirits when they come back from holiday. To help us run the festival, we have over 150 stewards, of which many are volunteers. A lot of our volunteers come from local secondary schools, but also include stay at home parents, people who are retired, and generally people from all different walks of life. They really make it happen.

Click here to continue reading this interview as we find out how the festival has continued to grow over the years, and how it manages to have such consistent support from its volunteers. Then as we draw nearer to the 3rd of October which marks the start of this year's BookFest action on Wimbledon Common, you can find more information on this year's events on our Events Calendar, and visit their official website at

We Want to Hear From You!
In the coming weeks, the Wimblecomm website is being upgraded to a newer and simpler design to improve your user experience and make our digital Community Hub better for all of us. Once unveiled, we will be spreading the word, and encourage you to get in touch to share your thoughts.

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 cover 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.

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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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