Gillian Wolfe, local resident and Head of Education at Dulwich Picture Gallery, received the honour of CBE from the Queen in November. Over the past 20 years Gillian has been implementing innovatory ideas long before they were preoccupations of the government, and has put Dulwich firmly on the gold standard for education map. Currently some 30,000 people a year enjoy education classes at the Gallery.
Daily activities include schools programmes, adult courses, art science, storytelling, after school art courses, evening classes, Saturday classes and family days, all making our natural treasures relevant for everyone. And it doesn't all happen in the Gallery environment. Outreach projects have included Wandsworth Prison, a hospice, a remand home for young offenders, and many others around South London. The reopening of the Gallery in 2000 saw a new interest in architecture. Gillian devised courses to give an understanding of materials, processes, design and building. The new fortnightly Contextual Lecture Series was massively over-subscribed. The Education Department at Dulwich has won 20 national and international awards for excellence.
For just over three years Redthread (an Anglican Youth Project) has been running a coffee shop Ithe Third Place) at St. Barnabas Parish Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons for secondary school children from local schools - on average 60 children attend each week. The vision for the coffee shop grew out of a desire to give young people their own safe place between school and home and to provide a positive environment for them to enjoy.
Starting in January, in conjunction with clinical support from Paxton Green Group Practice and local school nurses and counsellors from Alleyn's, The Charter School, Dulwich College, JAGS, Kingsdale and Sydenham High School, the Third Place will extend to Mondays as well with the Monday Health Club. The aim of the Youth Health Café, supported by the relationships and trust engendered by the Tuesday and Wednesday cafes is to provide an environment where teenagers can talk to nurses, counsellors and youth workers about a range of health or emotional issues.
Renee Zellweger, star of the two Bridget Jones movies, visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery's Beatrix Potter Exhibition before Christmas. She was doing some research for her role in the forthcoming biopic which is about to be filmed in the Lake District. In January, her co-star in the film, Ewan Mcgregor also came to see the exhibition. He plays Norman Warne, doomed fiancé to Renee's Beatrix in Miss Potter. The Gallery presented Ewan McGregor with a Peter Rabbitt notebook bearing the apt slogan 'You may go into the field or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden'!
Users of West Dulwich Station have long been depressed by the uncared for approaches. Now, however, work has started on the 'Down' slope, by a team of young people who have been given 'unpaid work' as part of their sentence for relatively minor offences by the local courts. They are working under the Youth Offending Team under the Community Reparations & Connexions Services of Southwark. The Work Manager fortunately has had experience both at Kew and the Chelsea Physic Garden, and hopes to clear the site of rubbish, brambles and ivy to produce Ordered Beds, showing Native plants in order of flowering etc. (a Magnolia was mentioned but presumably that is now a Registered Alien). Ivy will be removed from trees, but left on two dead trunks where it will encourage butterflies.
The work is being offered as an alternative to the usual car mending and maintenance, hoping it might lead to an interest for a few offenders in tree work, or horticultural studies.
The Society is sorry to record the deaths of two well-known Dulwich people. The Revd. Donald Strudwick, formerly vicar of St Clement's Church, Friern Road and a founder member of the Friends of Dulwich Hospital died in October at his home in Yalding at the age of 96. 'Struddie' is a fondly remembered figure around Dulwich, where he also served as Chaplain to Dulwich Hospital, invariably wearing his cassock, beneath which in hot weather he sported khaki shorts and a pair of sandals! He spent many happy years in retirement assisting in his local parish church and of course 'messing about ' in his beloved boat.
Joyce Milne, a long-standing member of the Dulwich Society died in January.