(Pic: Geoff Wilkinson)

Chris O’Donnell, who led warmly received virtual tours of Wanstead during the first lockdown, is inviting people to take part in a further tour telling the story of the involvement of Wanstead people in the slave trade and abolition movement.

The idea for the virtual tour – you don’t actually have to leave your house – came from Wanstead curate the Reverend Tom Britt who asked Chris to review the monuments in the St Mary’s churchyard to see if there were any links to the slave trade.

“There were,” says Chris. “My tour tells the story of the slave trade through the memorials, and the churchyard outside.  Slave ships, plantations, slave owners, the sugar trade, and Abolition.  Wansteadians were involved in all of it.”

The tour will take place at 7.30pm on Wednesday. Taking part costs £5, which is to be split with local food charities. Email cod@hipstours.com for an invitation and instructions on paying.

After the false start for our traditional Snow Pic-Off, where photographers of all shades submit their pics in a bid for glory, it’s now time for round two.

Please send your pictures to info@wansteadium.com. Prizes will be paid in kudos and the admiration of your neighbours.

Thanks to Michael Sumsion for these:

Dogs (posed by models)

Dog-owners have been alarmed by reports of increasing dog thefts. Here, Wanstead puppy trainers Colin Spence and Sarah Mcleod Cerezo offer some advice for anyone who is worried about this.

Strategies to reduce the chance of your dog being stolen

By dog behaviouralist and trainer Colin Spence ISCP.Dip.canine.Prac and trainee dog trainer Sarah Mcleod Cerezo of Colin’s K9 Training Services

“The upsurge in the demand for puppies and dogs has increased whilst people are at home more during this pandemic, seeking companionship, with the Kennel club commenting that searches for puppies on their site increased by 168% in 2020 when compared to 2019. So, dogs on the whole are being stolen to meet the demand for breeding (such as on puppy farms) and as a family pet. Further, dog theft has now become organised crime throughout the UK, with some police forces receiving double the number of reports of dog theft when compared to the previous year.

Some strategies you can take to try and reduce the chances of having your dog stolen when out on a walk include; ensuring your mobile phone is fully charged and if it has the setting, switch on your mobile tracker, so your exact location can be found if you need to call the police. Add the local dog wardens’ number into your contacts, their details can usually be found on your councils’ website. Always carry a personal alarm with you, have it clipped to your treat pouch and check from time to time that it works, as any loud noise can serve to be a good deterrent to someone who does not want to attract attention to the activity at hand, such as stealing a dog. Ensure it is always reachable and you know how to use it.

It is compulsory by law that all dogs are microchipped. Check your dog’s microchip is up-to-date at the vets or perhaps buy your own scanner so you can check regularly. As if the chip has become dislodged and can’t be found you may not want to take your dog out until this has been rectified, otherwise no one will know who the dog belongs to if stolen or lost.

When a newly acquired puppy or dog is taken to the vets it is not law for the vet to check the microchip but if you are a new owner it may be worth asking them, so you can verify the source of your dog is the same as you have been led to believe. Choose a well fitted, comfortable collar or harness with suitable lead, do not personalise the harness with your dog’s name.

Let those you leave at home or a local friend/family member know when, where, the planned route and approximate duration of your walk. Choose your routes in advance, seek routes that are well lit, populated, open with no blind corners. Vary your routes. Be visually observant from the moment you leave your home, note who is around, are you seeing the same cars passing or are new people hanging around, is anyone sitting in a car for extended periods of time with no obvious reason?

Where possible walk-in pairs or in groups (depending on lockdown rules at the time), two or more people are less approachable by thieves and your dog is less likely to be taken from you physically. From a dog behavioural perspective, dogs don’t need to be walked daily so long as they have sufficient mental enrichment and total rest days for dogs is to be encouraged, so if you feel anxious don’t feel pressured to take them out daily. You don’t necessarily need to ask those with dogs to go for a walk, in accordance with the current lockdown restrictions, at the time of writing, you are able to meet one other person from another household. Meet that person at your home, start and end your walk at your home with the other person walking home, having ensured you and your dog are back home safely.

Ensure the person taking the dog out for the walk is responsible enough to cope with any eventuality that may occur, such as being approached by a stranger and having the confidence to say no to any unwanted
attention. If you a have a small dog, pick them up if you are not comfortable or if the dog is larger get close to them.

If leaving a gated park, leave it on your own rather than with someone walking behind you. Take a step back and let the person pass. Continue to be visually observant on your way home, notice those around you and if anyone is following you home, if you have concerns call the police.

We often think of the messaging about not leaving dogs in cars due to the weather but it is equally appropriate advice when relating to dog theft, not to mention never leaving a dog unattended outside a shop or public venue.

If you have been approached or have any suspicions call the police immediately, reporting the date, time, location, outfit and description of the person/s, also give this information to your local dog warden. It is
not creating a fuss, it is informing the correct people, so suitable measures can be taken. If it is safe to do so and you will still have complete control of your dog take a photograph of the car or person/s. Never put yourself in harm’s way.

If your dog is taken, having called the police, follow the same advice as if your dog were lost; contact the organisation Dog Lost . Put posters up locally, inform all the local vets, contact the microchip company and post in social media.

If you have any training needs in getting your dog’s attention or in any way do not feel confident your dog would return to your immediately when called, then research safe, secure, privately hired local enclosed
dog fields to let your dog off, such as Dollys Dog Field . You can also call Colin’s K9 Training services to help you build your dog’s skills in these areas. Further, you can contact us if you feel you need help in choosing the right puppy or dog for you and your family, along with sessions on

At the time of writing dog theft is not a specific crime. See the link below to sign the petition to make it so.


Injuries visible in this photo taken by the Swan Sanctuary

A female swan which was attacked by a dog at Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats on Sunday has died.

The bird had bites on its neck from the attack, and had lost a lot of blood. It was taken to the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton where it was treated for the injuries – dog bites carry an additional risk of infection to the wound. However it died on Thursday afternoon.

The Wanstead Park Swans group posted the news on its Facebook page saying: “Today we say goodbye to yet another one of our swans killed by a dog. This was a seriously nasty incident and totally preventable. She has been with her mate for a long time and this is heartbreaking.”

No witnesses are thought to have come forward to give information about the attack, but anyone with information is asked to contact the Epping Forest Office on 020 8532 1010, the Police on 101, or Gill (Swan Sanctuary Volunteer) on 07970 404 866.