27 May 2014

An Urgent Appeal on behalf of Sydenham Arts Festival

From the team behind the Sydenham Arts Festival:

You may know that we currently planning our sixth annual arts festival in Sydenham - as always providing a fantastic, wide-ranging programme of arts events and activities for the whole community, more than half of which are free (see http://sydenhamartsfestival.co.uk/).

Having received some very generous grants from National Lottery and Lewisham Council, not to mention support from local businesses, this has become our most ambitious programme ever, meaning July will see several, very high-profile, large-scale events come to Sydenham and Forest Hill.

With events on this scale, there has been a much larger than unexpected increase in costs – in particular for technical infrastructure, security personnel and health & safety provision. Despite strenuous efforts to meet this shortfall in our budget, we need additional funds. We are therefore making an urgent appeal to local residents, festival goers, business owners, stakeholders and supporters, to help us meet this gap.

Become a Friend of Sydenham Arts FestivalIn our own 'crowd-funding' bid, we are looking to raise additional funds from private donations. You may donate any amount, but those contributing £50 or more will be listed as a Friend of Sydenham Arts Festival on our website, and can also claim two free tickets (subject to availability) to one of the following events:
OR 1 family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) to JEREMY STRONG
OR 2 adult & 2 child tickets to TOY SYMPHONY
PLUS an invite to our pre-festival ‘warm up’ in June.
NB: Tickets may be claimed up till Mon 23 June 2014.

Friends will be listed on our site in four categories:
Platinum - £500 +
Gold - £250 +
Silver - £100 +
Bronze - £50 +

How to donate to Sydenham Arts Festival Ltd (a not-for-profit organisation):
Cheques (made payable to Sydenham Arts Festival Ltd): drop in or post to Sydenham Arts Festival, Kirkdale Bookshop, 272 Kirkdale, Sydenham SE26 4RS
Cash: please leave envelopes at Kirkdale Bookshop, marked Sydenham Arts Festival Friends (receipts will be provided).
Bank transfer: Barclays account number 43366650, sort code 20-05-57. Please use reference Friend of SAF

Please also email financeofficer@sydenhamartsfestival.co.uk with subject line Sydenham Arts Festival Friends Appeal, to claim your free tickets and be named as a Friend on our site.

Thank You!
The SAF team

If you go down to Dacres Woods today you're sure of a big surprise

On Saturday, 31st May 2014 the Friends of Dacres Wood Nature Reserve are hosting a teddy bear's picnic as part of an open day.

From 1pm-4pm you could hunt for teddies, make a sculpture, share a picnic with your teddy or just go for a tour of the nature reserve.

All you need is a teddy and picnic (and even those are optional)

visit http://dacreswood.org.uk/ for more information

20 May 2014

The 23rd Annual Friends of the Horniman Art Exhibition

14-15 June will see the 23rd Friends of the Horniman Art Exhibition in the Conservatory of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

More than 30 Artists will be showing work over the weekend, in a wide variety of styles both contemporary and traditional. We will have oils, acrylics and watercolours but also drawings, prints, textile art and sculpture. Many artists will be familiar to previous visitors but we will also have a number of new artists this year. This is a great opportunity to purchase a unique, original art work while also supporting the museum. Even if you feel that you don’t currently have the wall space many of the artists will also be selling greeting cards.

The Sunday is Father’s Day so we are hoping that many people will incorporate a trip to the Museum and the Art exhibition into the weekend, perhaps including a trip to the Extremes exhibition, the Aquarium or your old favourites. 

Where: The conservatory, Horniman Museum and Gardens
When: Saturday 14 June 10am-5pm and Sunday 15 June 10am-4.30pm

10 May 2014

Forest Hill Traders’ Association

There’s been some exciting developments in Forest Hill over the last few years, and as traders we’re thrilled to witness the continued regeneration of our town centre and the increased visibility of our creative community.

Local regeneration was given a boost a couple of years ago when a group of residents and traders (including members of the Forest Hill Society) pitched for and won a Portas Pilot grant for high street regeneration in Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale. One of the scheme’s conditions was that each of the areas involved should have an active traders’ association, so we duly resurrected the then-dormant Forest Hill Traders’ Association in support of the new SEE3 initiative that was born as a result of securing the Portas funding.

In the words of the SEE3 website: “The Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale’s Portas Pilot vision is of a high-street where established independent traders are an integral part of the community, new traders bring innovation and further quality, boundaries between retail, culture and community blur, energy of active citizens is harnessed, new ideas are championed and space that is secured for start-up enterprises to develop is readily accessible.”

We’ve been proudly involved in the many SEE3 initiatives that have taken place since, from exciting pop-ups and new markets through to community events and the Forest Hill Fashion Week (visit http://www.see3.co.uk/ for more details). We believe the scheme’s benefits have been both tangible and highly visible, making our neighbourhood a more varied and interesting place to live.

Totally Locally is a nationwide social enterprise which provides “support for independent retailers with a free branding and marketing campaign for their town.

One of our local traders (Serge Sumerling of B Cards on Darmouth Road) had the idea to establish a Totally Locally hub for Forest Hill (http://totally-locally.co.uk/foresthill/), and this has now become the online “home” for the Forest Hill Trader’s Association and its members: a place where people can learn about what Forest Hill businesses have to offer, and where they can keep abreast of forthcoming initiatives, special offers and events.

We’re excited about the forthcoming Forest Hill Film Festival, with some of our members hosting screenings and events, and we’re due to install a map outside the station that will encourage people to explore Forest Hill’s hidden retail and other gems - so keep an eye out!

We’re especially keen for new members to join us. Established businesses, newcomers, market traders and home businesses are all welcome. This is a relatively young organisation and you’ll get a chance to help shape the future of independent business in Forest Hill.

Please contact Julia Channon (allinnone@btconnect.com) if you’re interested in joining, or even if you’d just like to attend our next meeting.

09 May 2014

Farmers' Market at the Horniman

Following on from the success of the Forest Hill Society monthly Food Fairs, the Horniman Farmers' Market (run by Griffin, Kendall and Cox) is now a thriving weekly Saturday market.

Regular stalls include vegetables, bread, meat, cheeses, eggs, cakes, muffins, handmade pasta, juices, and loads more food to eat there or take home for the week ahead. All the produce is excellent quality and produced or sourced locally. Recently Billings of Sydenham have added fish to the market. And once a month you will find the Forest Hill Society stall with information about events in the local area and shops on the high street.

Horniman is a superb venue, with possibly the best views at any market in London. The market brings a greater variety of foods to the area, competing primarily with Sainsbury's. It is there to give you the opportunity to buy local produce direct from farmers and local producers, in addition to supporting local shops on the high street.

If you haven't been before, pop along on a Saturday between 9:30am and 1:30pm, and enjoy doing some shopping in a great setting.

Edible High Road - 10th May 2014

Historic Walk around Forest Hill

Saturday 10th May 10.30am - Free, One hour 'Talk and Walk' around Forest Hill and Sydenham with local Historian Steve Grindlay. 
Learn about some of the fascinating history of this area and more about the possible future PLUS the on-going BurtonNitta Knowledge Bank project.  
Meet outside the exhibition window at Sainsbury’s in Forest Hill.

07 May 2014

Members Profile: Michael Abrahams, Chairman of the Forest Hill Society

When did you arrive in Forest Hill?
I moved to Forest Hill at the age of 4 in 1978, and have lived in a number of houses and flats around Forest Hill, on both sides of the railway. I now live in the same road that I moved to more than 30 years ago.

What made you choose Forest Hill as a place to live with your family?
Initially that was down to my parents. However I met my wife, Anne-Marie, in the sixth form of Sydenham School (we weren't married at the time) and we eventually chose to rent a flat in Forest Hill. We both grew up the area and have many friends who live in the area or close by, and both our sets of parents continue to live in Forest Hill.

When did you join the society?
I was one of the founder members of the Forest Hill Society. We met in the Dartmouth Arms in May 2006 after discussions on SE23.com. I chaired the Society for a couple of years before stepping down but I stayed on the committee and, when Richard stepped down last year I took the opportunity to stand again for Chair of the Society. I'm very proud of what we have achieved in the last 7 years and want to make sure we continue to find new ways to improve Forest Hill.

Why did you join the society?
I had always felt that Forest Hill lacked a clear voice and the closure of the swimming pool in 2006 was the main driver for local people to set up the Society. Other than the swimming pool, my main reasons for being part of the Society are to improve the high streets and to create a greater sense of community and shared pride in where we live.

What are the main things that the Forest Hill Society have achieved since you joined?
The swimming pool campaign was our main focus for a number of years. Had it not been for the tenacious campaigning by the Forest Hill Society and other groups, I don't think this would have happened.

Last year the Food Fairs took up lots of the efforts of the Society and partially as a result of this we now have a weekly market at the Horniman (not run by the FH Society), and at least two new shops on the high street.

What has been your proudest moment in the society?
Seeing the swimming pool built was wonderful. Swimming in the pool on the 15th September 2012, and attending the official opening a few weeks later, were certainly very proud moments – and the culmination of years of hard campaigning by local residents.
How has Forest Hill changed since you moved to the area?
It has changed a lot. We used to have at least three greengrocers, a fishmonger, cheese shop, health food shop, toy shop. But things changed on all high streets and after some bad years (mid-90s to mid-00s), the high street has definitely picked up in the last few years.

The other big change is the Horniman. When I was a child it was a 'dusty old museum', today it offers so much more for visitors. I'm sure part of this is my perception now that I have a young daughter, but I think the team in charge of the Horniman have done a fabulous job to improve and extend the museum.

What are you main priorities as Chairman moving forward?
It would be really nice to do something to make Forest Hill more friendly to pedestrians, or at least more attractive in the public spaces. Unfortunately this is not something that is easy to achieve and we need to find appropriate sources of funding.

I also want the Society to continue to enable local people to make things happen. We have been involved in a number of groups that have started off small and have made a difference to the local area separate from, but supported by, the Forest Hill Society. If you have ideas about making the place better, get in touch and we can help you to find a way to make it happen.

What's your vision for Forest Hill as Chairman?
Long term I want to see a redeveloped town centre – the space around the station and underpass on both sides of the railway. And I want to see the Bakerloo line extended underground to South East London – it doesn't have to be Forest Hill or Honor Oak, but either one would be my preferred route.

But most importantly I want everybody in Forest Hill to feel part of the community and to feel proud to live here. I think that is what being a member of the Forest Hill Society is all about.

Doopo Doopo and Forest Hill’s Creative Heart

Agata Zielinska-Hryn has transformed a neglected retail space on 15 Dartmouth Road into a colourful social enterprise supporting the creative community in Forest Hill and surrounding areas. Doopo Doopo sells a range of pieces (many locally themed) created by local artists and designers, whilst also offering workshops, events and film screenings to help people of all ages develop their skills and kindle a love for art and creativity.

“It's been said that there are over 600 artists in this area (Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Sydenham, Dulwich) so it's impossible to keep up,” says Agata. “I wanted to give people the opportunity first to display and sell their works, and also for residents of Forest Hill and beyond just to see what beautiful people and art we have in our area. I opened in April 2012, and in May we had the Dulwich Arts Festival and I remember one tiring but amazing weekend when I was dragging my girls behind me and we went through a hundred studios in two days - seeing all the artists, having quick conversations, introducing myself and my idea - asking whether they would be interested in displaying their works ... and that's how it all started really.”

Lowbrow art

With other venues like Canvas & Cream, The Montage, Stag & Bow and soon-to-open V22 at Louise House, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative in Forest Hill. Agata’s philosophy is that there’s room for everyone, and that they all benefit from this increasingly visible creative scene: “I’m happy just selling local artists and to be in the local community. We all know each other here [as traders]. It's so beautiful that you can walk the streets here and you're constantly saying hi to everyone.”

For Doopo Doopo, one important principle is what Agata likes to call “lowbrow” art: “My idea was to create an opportunity for people who may be a bit shy [to show their work]; or for older artists who never succeeded anywhere and became very introverted. So it's not just about having very well known artists and designers here - it's about helping people understand that art is subjective and if they think that they can create and if they feel good creating things, then maybe someone else will like it. Every single piece can have its own fans.”

Creative hub

These days Agata doesn’t need to head out and recruit people, because there’s a constant stream of locals who visit the shop eager to show their work. But selling art and design is only one part of what happens here. There are regular workshops for people interested in oil painting, guitar lessons, printing and jewellery making along with kids’ art classes. Also coming soon are courses in decoupage, lino printing, screen printing, t-shirt printing and up-cycling.

A large downstairs area is being refurbished and will be ready soon, offering studios for rent along with a space for events, theatre, exhibitions and cinema. Amongst the new tenants will be some local musicians and a tattoo studio. In the meantime Doopo Doopo is already active on the Forest Hill film scene through the Vortex Cinema Club which organises regular screenings and other film-related events. Keep an eye out for the Forest Hill Film Festival which kicks off on 14th July.

As a social enterprise, Doopo Doopo trades with an eye on supporting the local community, with clear guidelines stating that profits must be re-invested to further this social purpose. Social enterprises are not automatically entitled to financial assistance (such as business rates relief) from local councils, although this is something Agata and others are working to change. In the meantime the continued active support from the Forest Hill community is vital to ensure its survival, as indeed is true of all our local businesses.

In Doopo Doopo’s case, there’s an opportunity to own a piece of Forest Hill through buying locally-themed and locally-made art, and also to tap into the vibrant, creative community of artists, designers, musicians and filmmakers which together contribute to making Forest Hill an exciting place to live.

More information

06 May 2014

John Parris, Parris Cues

Forest Hill Society support, promote and encourage local businesses. In each newsletter we plan to interview successful businesses in the community who are helping to make Forest Hill a vibrant and successful town centre.

Helen Wicks from the Forest Hill Society recently met local businessman John Parris, owner of Parris Cues who manufacture snooker cues in Church Vale Forest Hill.

Q. How did you get into the snooker cue trade?
It started as a hobby, I played snooker and started experimenting with repairs/ fiddling with snooker cues. I was asked by others to repair their cues and it progressed from there. It’s quite a niche market and there are not a lot of competitors just small ‘one man bands’. Obviously larger shops sell mass produced cues much more cheaply, but like any other sport, if you are serious and/or talented, bespoke equipment is recommended.

Q. Why Forest Hill?
I started in Bromley about 30 years ago. We outgrew our premises in Bromley and were looking for a larger site, and then found this building in Church Vale SE23 which was bigger with good transport links by road and rail into central London. Our premises in Forest Hill are very modest and many of our distinguished customers expect to see a grand showroom are surprised to find the business tucked away in the back streets of Forest Hill in an unglamorous shop. We are established here now, we like it – we have no plans to move.

Q. How many people do you employ?
It’s a family business run by myself and my wife and my son looks after the IT side of things. We employ 8 people including an apprentice and I will soon be looking for a second apprentice to work on a new leather snooker case line that I am introducing. I am fortunate to have a skilled and loyal workforce with very little staff turnover producing high quality cues.

Q. Who are your customers?
At the beginning we were basically providing cues to the UK market. During the 1980’s snooker was very popular in England…..thanks to Steve Davis and Jimmy White.
We are now a global business and 60% of our business is export. Our biggest customers are from China particularly Hong Kong, and also Brazil, Canada and Australia. The Crown Prince of Brunei has bought cues and flew me over to deliver them. He has even visited the showroom arriving in 3 limos …blocking Church Vale!
The internet has facilitated this success. We have invested a lot in our website and this has been an important way to reach the world market.
The fortunes of Parris Cues prospered during the 1980’s snooker boom and were further lifted by the Sporting Events Promoter Barry Hearn, who as chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and the subsequent controlling interest in the commercial arm World Snooker Limited, revitalized the game from 6 tournaments a year to tournaments somewhere in the world every week.

Q. Any well known customers?
Yes, snooker players; Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, and Neil Robertson. Other celebrities who have bought cues include: Ronnie Wood, Damien Hirst and Ian Wright.

Have a look at our photos on the website!

Q. So how did you manage to get such big names on your books?
It all started when I cornered Steve Davis at a tournament… I offered to produce a replica of a cue that he damaged in a tournament…and he liked it! From this stroke of good luck, I built up my reputation on recommendations and to add to this Steve has become a good friend.

Q. How many snooker cues do you make on average every year?
We manufacture about 1500 cues a year.

Q. What materials do you use?
I source wood for the cues from all over the world, exotic wood mainly, ash and maple from North America in addition to British plum and pear tree wood.

Q. Snooker was very popular - Why do you think are there no clubs in Forest Hill?
There were three clubs within walking distance of Forest Hill station, two of which were in Perry Vale behind the station and one at Brockley Rise... a real shame they closed…I believe this was because of high rents, combined with drop in popularity, possibly also because smoking ban and gaming regulations took their toll on profits. However most pubs are not big enough for snooker tables but do have pool tables – incidentally, we also make cues for pool and American Pool!

Q. Can you give any advice to a budding entrepreneur wanting to start up a business in Forest Hill?
Yes, find a niche market product that you are passionate about and spend as much as you can on a website to promote it!