The old Grove Hall on Grosvenor Road – until a few years ago the church hall of Wanstead United Reformed Church – has undergone an enormous refurbishment in preparation for becoming a Montessori school.

The hall, now owned by Treehouse Nursery, will be hosting 90 under-fives each day, and will give employment to a significant extra number of staff. Grove Montessori, as it will be known, is to open in the next few weeks.

The building has for many years played a big part in the lives of Wanstead people – during the War, for instance, families whose houses had been bombed were allowed to store their furniture in the hall. It was an active church hall until a few years ago when it became an after school club.

But the new school has meant a large refurbishment by Treehouse owners Paul Samouelle and Maria Sanchez, including the addition of a second floor where the hall previously was.

The snow was short-lived – and our plans for our occasional Snow Pic-off will have to be put on ice until we are blessed with more picturesque scenes. But for the meantime our thanks to longtime Wansteadium reader Phil Carnelly for this picture.

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Photo: Pete Daly

A black swan has been a guest on Eagle Pond for the past few days, attracting bird-lovers. He’s doing a tour of local wetlands, and has been christened Bruce (black swans generally come from Australia). He is apparently socialising well with the mute swans of Snaresbrook, proving again that Australians are generally good company.

(Thanks to spotter and photographer Pete Daly.)

Warnings that Whatsapp messages inviting people to sign up for COVID vaccinations were fakes have turned out to be wrong, following reassurances that the messages were unauthorised but nevertheless sent in good faith.

Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal warned of the messages, but the NHS commissioning groups which organise the vaccination programmes have tweeted clarifications that the messages were not in fact fraudulent.

In fact at least one Wansteadium reader, Mary, commented on our original post that she had responded to a similar Whatsapp message and successfully received a vaccination as a result.

I replied with my relevant info. I was given an appointment for today by HealthDirect (our local primary care health network). I went to Hawkey Hall and was in the system . I had a vaccination and it was all very efficient and indeed terrific. It may not have been authorised by Redbridge CCG but several hundred doses have not been wasted.

The incident does highlight the difficulties of knowing exactly where messages received on various platforms are coming from, and whether or not they are legitimate. The government’s National Cyber Security Centre has issued this leaflet, pictured below, with some specific guidance on spotting scams relating to COVID-19.

Congratulations to Wanstead Village councillor Jo Blackman, who has been selected as the Redbridge cabinet member with responsibility for the environment and civic pride. This elevates her from being a green campaigner – she was one of those behind Redbridge’s declaration of a climate emergency – to a position where she should be able to influence some change.

One immediate issue she’s going to have to deal with is controversy over Redbridge plans to ban traffic from outside two Wanstead primary schools – Nightingale and Snaresbrook – for three hours each school day. It’s part of a scheme to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic from near schools, and encourage children to walk to school. But the devil will be in the details – perhaps especially when people have become so dependent on the delivery of nearly everything.

Good luck to her in her new role.