Young Maida Vale artist on why he’s drawing for the NHS: “my mum had the coronavirus”

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Young artist Finlay Kennedy has been joining in the community quest to fill the halls of St Mary’s Hospital with colourful creations to encourage and send warm wishes to the Frontline staff . On Finlay’s daily ‘scoot’ for exercise he came for a quick door step interview with Maida Unveiled…

When and why do you like to draw?

Everyday.  I draw whenever I can.  Sometimes I try and draw during breakfast and dinner but Mum doesn’t like that.  She likes me to do it afterwards.

Drawing is one of my favourite hobbies. I like to draw because it makes me feel calm and still.  Its fun too because I can get all my ideas on the paper and also play with them.  People really like my drawings, that makes me happy and proud.

How long have you been an artist?

Roughly about 5 years.  I love drawing.  Painting is too tricky for me – I cant get the details I want to do right, when I paint.

Am I right in thinking you are 7?


What message are you trying to bring with your artwork for the NHS?

Really because … I‘ll tell you why, I am really doing the artwork because my mum had the Corona Virus,  and they helped my mum, and she is recovering. That’s why I really doing the drawings.

What is your favourite thing about your drawings for the NHS?

I really like drawing the banners which say NHS on them  … the doctors and nurses are the leaders rallying behind their banner, and they are going to war against COVID.

What sort of drawings do you usually do?

I really like creating Magic Mini  Worlds, with lots and lots of tiny detail and action and different things to look at.   My favourite things to draw are battles. Medieval battles, with castles, knights and sometimes dragons.  I especially like drawing medieval weaponry like trebuchets and swords, crossbows. Sometimes I draw inventions.  Once I drew a massive rainbow factory, where all the colours went in and got sorted out and then the rainbows got spat out at the top.  Everyone really liked that one.  My Mum got that framed and it is in my bedroom.

How did you come up with these ideas?

Um, my mum says I am very imaginative.  The ideas just come into my head, and so I draw them,  and then as I draw things they kind of come to life.  Like when I draw battles I imagine being the people in the drawing and imagine the action that is happening around me as I am drawing it.

What do you want to be when you are older?

I really want to be a game maker or designer.  I would like to create all the characters in the game, and work out what they do in the game, and sell the game in the shops.

My brother and I often invent games, we talk about them and then I draw them – then we play them.

Have you decided what you would call the game?

Something like ‘Clash of Empires’ ….

Me and my brother really like playing Clash of Clans.

Finlay continues to contribute his masterpieces, much to the joy of the frontline staff.

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The ‘Idle’ Women

The work was arduous and unpleasant – drowned bodies and cargoes of weapons and gold bars concealed as more innocent freight.

By A. Butler

In 1943, aged 19, Olga Kevelos saw an advertisement inviting women to train for work on the canals. “She spent the next two years with all-female volunteer crews which ran the barges carrying vital war materials along the Grand Union Canal between London and the Midlands.”

She and her fellow crew members were nicknamed The Idle Women after the initials IW on their badges. Officially, IW stood for Inland Waterways, but the traditional boat people, alongside whom they worked, were jealous of the newcomers and gave them the name which stuck.

Olga Kevelos made it clear that life had been far from idle for this exceptional group of women.- “hard work with no respite at all… We worked an 18- to 20-hour day, and nobody ever stopped.” …“In all some 45 women took charge of the canal boats, which were worked in pairs, each pair crewed by three women. The volunteers would take the helm of massive barges transferring Spitfires or machine parts from the London Docks to Birmingham; on the return trip they would haul coal from Warwickshire to London.

The work was arduous and unpleasant – drowned bodies and cargoes of weapons and gold bars concealed as more innocent freight.  Living conditions were rough and the girls were often cold and wet, as well as hungry (not for them the extra rations given to the Land Girls). The weather could be appalling and their craft were frequently ice bound.”. 

Olga was just one of about 30 Idle Women working on the boats during the war.  Many joined following a recruitment drive, in 1944, by the Ministry of War Transport who advertised in the press and women’s magazines.  However, before 1942 the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company (GUCCC) at Southall gave the scheme a trial. 

Girls were given 6 weeks’ training before being let loose on the canals.  One of these, Eily Gayford, became a trainer of future recruits.  She was older than the new girls, and known as Kitty.  Her book, The Amateur Boatwomen chronicles her experiences.

Other women recruits, who have written of their time on the boats, are Emma Smith in her book Maidens’ Trip, Margaret Cornish in Troubled Waters and Susan Woolfitt in Idle Women.  Unusually, Susan was a married woman.  She had been married for 10 years to ‘Donald Wolfit’, as he liked to be called, when she joined up in 1944 as a result of the advert.  For her, it was an escape from a marriage that was turning sour.  The children were at boarding school and she wrote them many letters of her experiences.  Hers was the first book published in 1947.  However, many idle women remained interested in the canals. 

Susan was an early member of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA). Others idle woman have attended Waterway events until recently.  The scheme ended in 1946 with the return of the men after the war. Books mentioned are now published in paperback in the Working Waterways series and are available in London in the Canal Museum, near King’s Cross.

Pumpkin Carving Competition!

Oh My Gourd – it’s already October and with Halloween just around the corner, why not carve out some fun with a neighbourhood pumpkin carving competition? Please carve your gourd-geous pumpkins, take a spook-tacular photo from your window or somewhere locally and tag us on your Instagram or Facebook @Maida_Unveiled or email [email protected]

DEAD-line October 31st.

The winner will be published in THIS Autumn/Winter issue of Maida Unveiled.

P.S. Don’t forget to keep those leftover seeds for toasting as a healthy snack and insides for a delicious pumpkin soup. Recipe coming soon from ‘Have Kitchen Will Cook’. 

A BIG Thank you for your donations.

We had been working hard to put your wonderful donations to good use- with many trips to Costco and some Pizza deliveries too! With a huge thanks to Dhig’s on Formosa street – who have been invaluable with donations and transport and those who know H locally will know the of the privilege of his lovely warm nature and generous personality.

Also Thank you to Svetlana who is a local mum and she runs a great charity called Kinder Gifts, where she works closely with St Mary’s Hospital. Svetlana has been key to our operations and is very kind hearted.

Svetlana, H (from Dhigs) and Alice (from W9W2) picking up food donations from Dhigs on Formosa street.

With Thank you to all who have made generous donations so far, here is the link to see how much we have raised and are continuing to do so. Please do share with friends, family and other community networks; 

Direct community support to St Mary’s staff organized by Maida Vale Society W9W2

Maida Vale Parents, an online community.

Article by Alice Sinclair.

Maida Vale Parents is an (online) group for Parents and Carers in the W9 area. ..’with bumps, babies, toddlers, tweens, teens and even grandchildren’.

Counting 4.4k members, the group was originally formed in 2007 by six new mums far from their families who used to gather in the rose garden of Paddington Recreation Ground.

I met up with one of the group’s founders Eugenia Mandrali, and the current head of admin Anne-Sophie Erlandsen Olesen. We had coffee at Toast on Formosa street and they kindly lead me through the journey of MVPs.

How did the Idea came about?

Eugenia had migrated far from her hometown in Greece, away from the impending finical crisis, her family and friends, and was feeling the pressure of new parenthood.

One day, she saw a sign in the GP surgery advertising a weekly group of migrant mothers. She decided to join and thus met the ladies who were to be the founding tribe members of Maida Vale Mums…

The Mums comforted and supported each other, shared advice and soothed the wicked parental guilt we seem to all be afflicted with in one way or another. Soon, they found that that regular meeting was invaluable to their lives.

It was very organic at the time, a sort of self help project” says Eugenia.

Maida Vale Mums Website

In 2007, the group decided to be more structured and branch out. With the help of Meghan, an American mum and owner of a successful business in the U.S. selling CDs, they created a webpage “”. The page was mainly used to organise parties, meet ups and share ideas of what to do in the local area.

From Maida Vale Mums to Maida Vale Parents

In 2013, for various reasons, the group had to close down abruptly and faced with 2000+ members’ impending ‘uprooting’. This is where Anne-Sophie, a forward thinking mum, stepped in and re-launched the group as Maida Vale Parents.

What makes Maida Vale Parents so special?

The famous child focused psychoanalyst Donald Winnecott spent much of his working life just down the road from us at St Mary’s hospital. He famously believed that the ‘Mother’ in the archetypal sense had to be ‘good enough’, providing the environment was contained and safe and transition was gently facilitated.

This is exactly why MVP’s as a group is so successful. It is a welcoming environment for all Parents. What sets it apart from other groups is the safe container created by the admins. Much like kids need a safe container and boundaries to thrive, as do online groups. The key to its success lies behind closed doors with the admin.

It is a tightly run ship with only a handful of moderators who make sure that the group rules are always respectfully enforced: for parents but not just about parenting; let’s be kind and civil; no ads whatsoever; no hate speech, bullying or discrimination; no Fake News; no Justice by Social Media; and What Happens on MVP Stays in MVP. 

This has made the group a very supportive, non-judgmental and extremely dynamic community. The saying goes that ‘Even if you leave Maida Vale, you never leave Maida Vale Parents 2 Parents’, which is why members hail as far as Australia, US and Asia by now. And out of 4400+ members, more than 3800 are Active Members, meaning they have Viewed, Commented, Posted or Reacted in the last month alone. 

Since Anne-Sophie took over, MVP2P has doubled in size. Its members, like an ever changing team of volunteers, have also organised many IRL (In Real Life) events such as Family Mini-Festivals in Pad Rec, Xmas Drinks, Mid-Week Drinks and even their first MV Dads’ Drinks. 

But its core offering is still online support and advice to the many very diverse members, who represent quite accurately an area of London where high wealth and poverty exist side by side, but where all are local parents. And while there are no MVP Weddings (that we know of) there are certainly a plethora of true MVP Friendships.

Calling all local Photographers and Artists!!

Your local magazine Maida Unveiled is hosting a competition for all local Artists and Photographers.

We’re asking entrants to get up close and personal with the area of Little Venice and Maida Vale… The theme is “a seasonal reflection of the area” This is for our Spring/summer edition.

Our Magazine is distributed all over the local area reaching a wide audience and the winner gets to feature on the front cover!

This competition is open to all ages and levels.

Please send a copy of your work with a short (100 word max) caption.

Entries (and queries) are to be emailed to the address below.

Deadline is the 1st of April.

Good luck !

[email protected]

Christmas Carols

We are delighted to announce that the Autumn/Winter edition of Maida Unveiled is fresh off the press. If you are yet to have read the hard copy please follow the (members only) link to view the online version. 
We are also pleased to announce that this years carol service will be held on the 10th of November at St Mary’s church, Paddington Green. All are welcome for a seasonal occasion reflecting the diversity of the area, supported by the Choir and Musicians of St Saviours School. We hope you will stay on at the end for some festive refreshments!

A chance to put forward ideas for a new community leisure and cultural space in Paddington.

British land is bringing forward proposals for the final plot of land on Five Kingdom street. The new office building will host a space called ‘The Box’ which is currently open for ideas with regards to how to utilise the space in a way which can benefit the local community. It is our chance to have a say, give feedback, and shape the future.

So please have a look at the dates and locations below, and bring along some ideas and lets get a conversation going.

Monday the 25th of February;3.00PM-8.00PM, 258 Harrow Road, Paddington,W2 6PY.

Tuesday the 26th February; 12.00pm-3.00pm, Sheldon Square, Paddington, W26PY.

Saturday the 2nd of march;  10.00am-3.00pm, The Amadeus Centre, 50 Shirland road, W9 2JA.


TFL plans are a Further threat to already dangerous Pollution levels

Transport for London will soon be closing down London’s iconic Victoria Coach Station and are considering, amongst a number of options, relocating it to Royal Oak. 

Victoria coach station was opened in the 1930s and attracts Millions of Visitors a year. If moved to our area, that is a lot of people, potential for an increase in traffic volume and air pollution in the midst of a residential zone. Together with the reported changes to Heathrow flight Approaches over London this could be significantly alarming for local residents. Especially as there are a number of primary schools so close by; and air pollution levels are already at dangerous levels. 

There is also concern that it will certainly change the character of the area. So, What can we do? And how can we take action at this early stage? Please take the time to make your views known to our elected representatives to encourage them to continue to oppose exploration of this proposal by TFL
To sign the Labour Petition, follow this link:
To sign the Conservative Petition, follow this link:

A public meeting is being held on the 5th of March (tonight) to bring local people up to speed with the campaign. It would be great to see you there!

TONIGHT, Starting at 7.00 pm, Porchester Hall, Porchester Road, Westminster W2 5HS.

Take a walk through women’s history with a side dish of home made cake!

Walk 100! A historical walk through women’s history, with home made cake, yum.

Following up the very successful Vote 100 talk in January on the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave the majority of women over 30 the vote, we are excited to share with you the series of Vote 100 walks led by our trusty friends, the City of Westminster tour guides.

The walk’s start at St James’s Park Tube (Palmer Street exit) at midday, 13.00hrs and 14.00hrs on Saturday the 30th of June and Monday the 2nd of July. I heard a rumour there will also be home baked cakes… so be sure to come along with your families and participate in a journey through history.

Or come for the cake, yum!