Piano recital with Anastasia Parker

Yesterday we were very pleased to play host to classical pianist Anastasia Parker (https://www.anastasiaparker.com/) who popped into Abbey to give a mini-concert, combining beautiful piano playing with forgotten tales about the music.


Anastasia treated us to pieces from Chopin to Rachmaninoff to Bach, sharing backstory about each. For Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor, the story goes that he wrote it about a friend being buried alive in a coffin after a grisly medical mix up. The Bach piece she chose was composed when Bach was an adolescent – apparently critics said the reason it was so powerful was because of all those teenage hormones!


For Chopin, she talked about his role in elevating musicians into ‘high society’ whereas previously they were treated like tradesmen and not allowed to eat with guests at the parties where they performed. All very interesting stuff. The music was utterly entrancing and we all felt deeply relaxed and moved by it.


Anastasia says about her concerts:

“I want my concerts to be fun, I want the audience to leave there buzzing – from the music, from a great performance, from new information, and with a smile on their faces. Because I have one on mine.”

We think she’s definitely achieved her goal! Thank you so much for coming and playing for us.

Abbey Saturdays – October update!

Here’s where we’ve been going, what we’ve been cooking and what we’ve been making together for the past couple of weeks. To remind you of what’s on offer on Saturdays at Abbey, our schedule tends to go a little something like this:

  • Tech Buddies 10am – 12noon. Get help with your phone, iPad or laptop from our friendly trained volunteers. Brush up your skills on email, Microsoft Office, online shopping or banking, downloading music or photos and much more. 1st three Saturdays of the month.
  • Abbey’s Cafe open from 11am – 2pm. Main meals just £2 and £1 for kids. All food is vegetarian, ‘restaurant standard’ and is made from donations of food surplus from The Felix Project, our own garden and other providers.
  • Arts ‘n’ Crafts 11am – 1pm. All ages, £1 suggested donation. A therapeutic way to start the weekend. Bring the grandkids!
  • Saturday trips 2pm first two Saturdays of the month. Visit London attractions on public transport as part of a friendly group.

In the last two weeks we’ve had scrummy lentil pasta, beautiful stone-baked pizza and carrot cake alongside our usual salad options and jacket potatoes. All thanks to our volunteers!

“The team created a real community spirit. Thank you all.”
“Thank you for the amazing delicious lunch.”


Meanwhile, at Arts’n’Crafts, we’ve been making our own model of Abbey Community Centre and the surrounding area. We’ve been getting 20 – 30 people every week since we started Arts’n’Crafts – it’s lovely to see people returning week after week as well as new faces popping up.

Everyone got stuck in making Abbey, the Lillie Langtry, Priory Tavern, Belsize Road and Abbey Road! The finished results:

We had a well-attended trip to the RAF museum in Colindale. Here’s everyone getting ready to go! Our next trip this Saturday 11th will be to Sir John Sloane’s museum.



Meanwhile, our Tech Buddies sessions are chugging along nicely, with more and more volunteers and participants popping up every week. We also have a home-visiting IT-support programme for those who need it; you can read about one of our Tech Buddy pairings, Jean and Andrea, here.

Please do come and join us one Saturday soon! We are busy but always have room for more – or if you fancy volunteering, contact us on 020 7624 8378.

October omnibus: Saturdays at Abbey

The last couple of Saturdays have been buzzing at Abbey with our cafe, Tech Buddies and all-ages Arts’n’Crafts sessions. Here’s some pics of what we’ve been up to – thanks May for taking them!

Tech Buddies has continued to be very busy with attendees bringing their iPads, phones, Kindles and more to our lovely volunteers. We also had some students from CAPA pop by on the 21st to help us which was fantastic – thanks guys!


After a good delve into the world of tech everyone tends to be hungry so it’s good that the cafe volunteers and our cook Jenny are continuing to cook up a storm! Look at that veggie stew… and carrot cake for dessert.

Not only will you get a deliciously healthy meal at Abbey’s Cafe, you’ll also get service with a (dazzling) smile!

We are still having a regular raffle every 3rd Saturday of the month.


On Saturday 21st we also celebrated Camden Intergenerational Week 2017. Bunny from Age UK Camden popped down to do some filming which we’re looking forward to seeing soon!

We have stepped up our all-ages offering at Abbey recently by holding an all-ages Arts’n’Crafts morning every Saturday. It’s been very popular so far with 30+ attendees per session. A relaxed and therapeutic way to spend the morning before tucking into lunch.


A jam-packed hall – that’s what we like to see! Why not come and join us sometime? Tech Buddies is free (over 65s); Arts’n’Crafts is £1 suggested donation and you can grab a meal, drink and dessert at the cafe and still have plenty of change from a fiver!


CTCer Spotlight: Sally


Community superstar Sally has always been active in the local area, starting her own group in West Hampstead 20 years ago – W.Heart, which would fundraise so that those less well-off could go on trips. This included people of all ages and she even used to organise hostel trips where older and younger people would live together for a week – ‘It really worked, someone said ‘the wisdom of the old and the energy of the young – together they work wonderfully!’ Three weeks after joining Abbey, Sally had a mini-stroke which meant she had to spend six weeks at home. She asked Laura if she could run a bingo session as calling out the numbers would help with her rehabilitation – and bingo is now one of the most popular activities at the centre! Ever since then she’s been a real Abbey regular and a great asset to the centre.

How did you find out about Abbey Community Centre?
I went to a meeting called ‘Heroes of Kilburn’ organised by Ageing Better in Camden and I met Laura there. That must have been four years ago now. Then I came for a lunch at the centre with my granddaughter.

What is a typical week for you at the community centre?
Coffee morning, boccia, collecting raffle prizes, a bit of gardening, Re-cycle-art… always getting to have input and ideas there. It was my idea to do the mosaics in the Abbey garden for the 40th Birthday party. I also loved doing Dig It! recently with my grandson, it was a great way to spend some time together.

Wow, you’re busy! How would you describe the experience of being part of a CTC group?
Yes, I have one ‘day off’ a week, on a Wednesday. I’ve always been busy all my life so why stop now? Being part of a CTC group is great – one of the best things about getting older! My younger friends will say ‘where are you going’ and I’ll say ‘I’m off to the Abbey’ and they’ll want to come too! It’s inclusive, it’s all about seeing the good in people. People are appreciated for their gifts. We all give, we’re all volunteers. CTC is what churches should be like!

What is the best thing about Abbey Community Centre?
So much! That I feel free to suggest things… or even to criticise things that aren’t working. It’s no good to be ‘bleurgh’ about things – either appreciate it or change it! Every cloud has a silver lining.

Have you spotted anything on the Calendar of Upcoming events that takes your fancy?
I like anything intergenerational. I recently asked Laura if I could put on an event to help everyone gel across the centre. So I am putting on a Winter Warmer event with Joanna and Kilburn Good Neighbours with sandwiches, cakes and a singalong! It’s on the Wednesday 1st November and it will be Kilburn Good Neighbours and CTC, so everyone from age 50 to age 90 and beyond! And I’m also looking forward to the panto.

What one thing would you say to others about the centre?
Come and join us! We’re as nutty as you. And that we always win people round in the end even if they’re shy at first. I like helping people blossom.

How would you sum up Abbey Community Centre in three words?
Dip your feet… into the Abbey experience! With a smile.

A note from the editor: Thanks Sally for chatting to me about your experiences of the centre. If you’d like to be interviewed or have a story to share, do get in touch on publicity@abbeycc-kilburn.org.uk or 07805869136.

Read the full October / November newsletter here: https://communitytimecamden.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/ctc-oct-nov-2017-newsletter1.pdf

Saturday Trip to the Museum of London

On the 7th October our all-ages group enjoyed a trip to the Museum of London. They were very impressed with the way the history of our fair city was showcased – how daily life was 2000 years ago in the lower Thames Valley until the creation of Roman city of Londininum. Participants also strolled around Victorian streets and visited a Victorian Magical Garden. Several commented they might go back there one day.


Our Saturday trips are a lovely way to visit London’s many attractions in a friendly group. Our next trip this Saturday (14th) will be to the Royal Air Force museum. We’ll leave Abbey at 2pm and take public transport to Colindale. Contact Simone if you’d like to come along on 020 7624 8378.

Kilburn Good Neighbours: George and Wael

George & Wael

I was lucky enough to meet George and Wael, two members of our Kilburn Good Neighbours befriending scheme, last month. George has been visiting Wael once a week for eight months now. Read on to find out what being a part of Kilburn Good Neighbours means to them.

Wael, 69, has lived in Camden for over 40 years, working as a structural engineer – you can see his work on many of the bridges on the North Circular. George, 31, has lived in Camden for the past four years, moving to the West Hampstead area two and a half years ago. He works as a lawyer in Wembley.

Wael signed up for Kilburn Good Neighbours after searching for IT classes in his local area and coming across Abbey Community Centre. George came across the opportunity online and has been visiting Wael once a week since February.

They meet for an hour and chat about everything – from history and politics to football (‘though Wael prefers rugby’, George adds). “I learn so much from Wael –  his knowledge of history and languages in particular is unbelievable.” George also comments that seeing Wael is a relaxing way to spend time as it gives you a different perspective on life.

Wael feels the same. ‘It’s good to see how younger people think… about politics, fashion and everything else. I’m 69 so most of the people I know are over 50 and George is my link to a younger generation, I’d have no connection otherwise. Although we found out that George’s girlfriend likes the same 60s and 70s music as me, like Fleetwood Mac!’

As well as the joy of learning from each other and widening their social networks (George has now met some of Wael’s friends and vice versa) Wael is especially grateful for George’s companionship as he has difficulty walking nowadays. ‘For someone in my situation, if you want someone to talk to, Kilburn Good Neighbours is the best way to get an introduction to someone. It’s very hard to meet anyone new otherwise.’

And George is equally happy to be a part of the scheme. ‘You definitely get more out of it than you put in.’

We’re always looking for more volunteers for Kilburn Good Neighbours. Many Community Time Camden members (like Connie, John and Christine below) choose to give an hour a week to support someone on the scheme – could you get involved? Please contact Joanna on 0207 604 4832, email her at kgn@abbeycc-kilburn.org.uk or drop into the centre. She is usually in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.