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Canary Wharf: How Canary Wharf Group’s Junior Board works to shape estate’s future

Initiative provides a forum for idea generation, communication across the business and mentoring

Canary Wharf Group's Junior Board
Canary Wharf Group’s Junior Board

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Canary Wharf has been in a constant state of evolution since it was created.

The mix of companies on the estate has changed with financial services and media giants joined by technology firms and an increasing number of organisations working in healthcare and life sciences.

It’s become a place to live too, with homes made available for both private sale and to rent at Wood Wharf and more residential expected at North Quay, Canary Wharf Group’s next major phase of development adjacent to its east London heartland.

Alongside these changes, the company that oversees the estate is also embracing the future, increasingly looking to younger staff to ensure it’s heading in the right direction.

Given the timescales involved in development, it makes sense to consult the people those future phases of regeneration are aimed at and to make certain the existing estate is on point to attract people of all ages.

To that end, Canary Wharf Group appointed a Junior Board in January to generate ideas, serve as a sounding board for the company’s leaders and help shape the future of the business.

Originally 13 – now 11 due to a couple of departures – for nearly eight months, it’s been doing just that, so I sat down with recently elected chair Julie Dang and board member Dan Pereira to find out more. 

Canary Wharf Group Junior Board chair Julie Dang

who are you, what do you do?

Julie: I work in the corporate social responsibility department as a programme coordinator and I’ve been in the company for about five years. I work to engage with our stakeholders, with young people and schools, to help them with their career aspirations and future employment.

We’ve run job fairs, insight days, where we invite people into the business and get our staff volunteers involved, to tell the young people what their jobs are, how they got to where they are now and what they actually do.

Dan: I work in the IT department as an infrastructure supervisor, helping look after Wi-fi, satellite, phones and TV across the estate, for the tenants in the buildings, the restaurants and the retailers. 

I used to be an electrician here working day and night shifts – a different world to 8am-5pm.

That means I can help people understand that you can come from that background to a role like this. My background benefits me because I can collaborate with people on the ground.

why apply for the junior board?

Dan: When I was working shifts, I kept coming up with all these ideas, but had no-one to share them with.

I’d see things in the malls, listen to people’s conversations and wonder what I could do with them.

That’s why I applied – I thought it would be good to have someone on it from a maintenance background. 

I didn’t tell a soul because I was scared what people might think of somebody in my position applying for something like that. It’s turned out pretty well.

Julie: I was the opposite, I wasn’t going to apply at all because I thought I wasn’t good enough, but I talked to one of my mentors who thought I was.

So I applied because my role is all about raising others’ confidence and trying to improve the lives of stakeholders and employees.

what are the board’s ambitions?

Julie: After many discussions, we decided to focus on three main areas – pay and progression, how to improve internal culture and collaboration in the business and how to change external perceptions of Canary Wharf and Canary Wharf Group, which is very important to us. 

Within those areas there are different projects, such as the introduction of ‘coffee roulette’ where two people working for the business meet for half an hour and get to know each other. 

Dan: I’ve been on a couple already with people from the legal and construction departments and it’s amazing – a chance to understand what people do in different areas of the business.

Julie: Building relationships is so important for an organisation and this aligns with one of the company’s values, which is cooperation.

I met someone from the residential sales team and went on a tour of One Park Drive in Wood Wharf, which I hadn’t seen before. Half an hour wasn’t enough so we’ve put another date in the diary.

Canary Wharf Group Junior Board member Dan Pereira
Canary Wharf Group Junior Board member Dan Pereira

what’s the benefit to the business?

Julie: I think the biggest thing is the culture change. Not a lot of companies have a junior board but it means that decisions are not just top-down.

The management board come and ask us if they’re doing things in the right way. 

It’s being taken seriously. We’re each paired with a member of the board and reverse-mentor them on a regular basis.

Dan: We rotate after six sessions, which means we get someone different and that means new opportunities to learn.

At the moment I meet the CEO – Shobi Khan – once a month. He’s kept every appointment and we discuss things that need improving and I give him my opinion.

We go on walks, which means everyone knows who I am now, and he gets a different understanding from me. 

I try to be completely honest – if he says something I don’t agree with I’ll say so and there are things I mention to him that he won’t have heard about before.

For example, I took him down to my old mess room underground and he’s looking at relocating those facilities so managers and engineers can work more easily together.

That’s given me a sense of confidence that I can talk to anybody. Being able to spend an hour with the CEO and feel comfortable puts you in a good position.

Before joining the board I hardly spoke to anybody and kept myself to myself.

Julie: For me it’s been a chance to learn about other areas of the company, understand the issues they face and what could be done differently.

I’m paired with Alastair Mullens who is head of Canary Wharf’s build-to-rent business Vertus and he’s a  very inspiring person.

how do you want to change the perception of Canary Wharf?

Dan: We want to make sure people know it’s available for everybody, not just those in suits.

We want families and tourists to visit, for it to be seen as a great place to come, with so much to do. You don’t have to spend money here – you can come here with nothing and still have a great day out. 

There are parks and great views.My favourite thing is to watch the sunset at Canary Riverside. I take my camera and it’s great.

We want people to feel they’re welcome. I recently spoke to some school kids, and I asked them if they could see themselves working at Canary Wharf, and they said they would need a degree – but I was able to tell them that’s not true, it’s not the route I took.

Julie: We want to emphasise that there are lots of arts and events here that are free. We’ve got the largest public art collection in the UK.

One of my favourite places is Crossrail Place Roof Garden, which is really cool in the summer – you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

As members of the Junior Board we can contribute to how this place develops.

For me, there are two areas we should focus on – ensuring Canary Wharf is inclusive, that there are people working here and visiting from different backgrounds and I think we are already well on our way there.

I also want to see more competitive socialising in the retail element of the estate.

Dan: I think Canary Wharf Group needs to keep doing what it’s doing at the moment – adding more things to make the estate better.

We have lots of open green spaces and now there’s the option to go open water swimming in Middle Dock too.

Read more: Discover newly-opened M restaurant in Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How Love Open Water has brought swimming to Middle Dock

Organisation uses NOWCA safety system to ensure bathers can dive into the crystal water confidently

Chess takes a dive into Middle Dock
Chess takes a dive into Middle Dock – image Matt Grayson

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Just as I arrived at Middle Dock in Canary Wharf to interview Chess Roffe Ridgard, she saved a life.

A smallish pigeon had fallen into the water and was having difficulty making it out. In seconds the bird was scooped up by Love Open Water’s head of development, brought to dry land and placed safely in the shade to dry off – the temperature was in the high 20s, after all. 

Later, without so much as a thank you, it flew off to wherever pigeons make their homes in east London.

That little bedraggled animal owes its continued existence to Canary Wharf Group and Love Open Water – a welcome unintended consequence of their project.

The two organisations – working in partnership with the Canal And River Trust, which is responsible for managing the docks – have teamed up to deliver a programme of swimming over the summer.

While these aren’t the first watersports sessions to take place in the dock, this is the first sustained access offered to the general public with a full complement of life guards, a booking system and expert staff on hand to offer tips, advice and point out the best spots to watch fish sunbathing in the depths. 

“I swam competitively as a pool swimmer in the Midlands when I was younger,” said Chess, who is heading up the initiative for Love Open Water.

“I’m a proud Mansfield girl and trained with Becky Adlington who was one of our golden girls in the 2012 Olympics.

“I’ll say it now, she was faster than me, but I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time.

“Then a kidney infection left me unable to train, so I found myself in the music industry.

“I used to work with a lot of famous DJs and bands, and I did that for a long time. Then I found open water swimming about five or six years ago and I’ve never looked back.

“It became so important to me to help other people, and for them to find a mental health boost from this sport.

“Having seen how it really brings joy to people’s lives made me want to become involved, so I quit my job in music and here I am.”

Middle Dock is eight metres deep in places
Middle Dock is eight metres deep in places – image Matt Grayson

With cold, deep water – typically eight metres to the bottom – safety is Chess and her team’s top priority.

Having operated at numerous venues, including east London’s Royal Docks, Love Open Water uses the NOWCA safety system to keep track of exactly who’s in or out and to provide insurance for those swimming.

“Love Open Water was set up to simply create safe spaces for people to swim outdoors,” said Chess.

“The idea is that by using this system we can open more blue spaces to swimmers of all abilities and build community hubs around them so there’s a real social aspect to what we do.

“That’s in contrast to swimming pools, which are very controlled and quite clinical.

“Love Open Water is about getting that community feel, about going out and enjoying the outdoors and the water.

“At Canary Wharf the distances available vary depending on how many safety staff we have working because that’s the key to everything we do.

“We have either a 300m loop, a 500m loop or a 600m loop that goes right to the end of the dock underneath the DLR bridge. 

“Before I came here I’d swum under a few aqueducts before, but never under a railway bridge with trains running on it.

“The staff at Canary Wharf Group have been absolutely phenomenal – they came up with the idea to activate the dock as part of the work they are doing to get more people in and on the water here.

“They were looking for people to help them to do that and, having put forward our ideas and shown them what we’ve been doing at our other sites, we were lucky enough to be chosen to work with them on this project.

Swimmers can opt for loops of 300m, 500m or 600m
Swimmers can opt for loops of 300m, 500m or 600m

“We hope that this is just the start – we have this trial for the first few months but we’d love to make sure it’s a facility that’s accessible to as many people as possible – we have big plans.

“We’d love to operate at this venue all year round – a million percent yes. 

“Cold water swimming is hugely beneficial for mental and physical health.

“We’ve run winter swimming at our London Royal Dock site for about 10 years, and we’ve seen the popularity of that go through the roof.

“During the pandemic we were only able to operate for a month and a half over the winter, but we saw our membership increase by 450% and swim attendance jump by 380%.

“Those are massive numbers and it shows just how important cold water exposure has become to people.

“It’s all been driven by programmes on the BBC – but we’re here to show people the safest ways to get in and out of the water and to help them understand about hypothermia and the risk of cardiac arrest.

“People need to know that jumping in and swimming off fast are two of the most dangerous things you can do regardless of the time of year or the temperature.

“When you’re immersed in cold water quickly everything tightens up and that puts additional pressure on your heart, so if you try and swim off quickly, you’re at a very high risk of cardiac arrest.

“Remember, don’t jump in, don’t swim off quickly and if you get into trouble, float to live, lie on your back, keep your head relaxed, focus on your breathing and call for help.”


Love Open Water's Chess Roffe Ridgard
Love Open Water’s Chess Roffe Ridgard – image Matt Grayson

Sessions at Middle Dock cost £8 (or £7 for a pack of 10) for unlimited time in the water. Participants must also be NOWCA members, which costs £15 a year.

Swimmers must wear brightly coloured caps or use a tow float so lifeguards can easily see them. Westsuits are not compulsory but are advised when water temperatures fall below 15ºC.

“Safety is very important to us, but we also hope swimmers will come away feeling that they’ve learnt something that they can use elsewhere at other venues or when they’re on holiday,” said Chess.

“All of our lifeguards are open water trained – this is beyond the level of those looking after indoor pools.

“We’d actually love pool lifeguards who are interested in working with us to come down and see us, because we provide that extra training for a job that’s in the great outdoors local to where they live.

“We’ll also offer a range of courses including a first-time dippers session in a couple of weeks so whether you’re a head-up breast-stroker or a front crawler used to bashing out lengths in the pool, you can come and swim here. 

“We can teach you all about sighting, turning round the buoys and swimming in a straight line – which seems to be the thing that eludes people most when they first hit open water.

“I’ll also be doing a front crawl masterclass, where I promise participants that I’ll blow their minds at least five times with the things they’re doing wrong in their stroke.”

Access to the water is via Mackenzie Walk in Canary Wharf
Access to the water is via Mackenzie Walk in Canary Wharf – image Matt Grayson

Anyone who lives or works locally will have seen rubbish floating in the docks and knowing that they’re filled from the Thames might make prospective swimmers think twice about taking the plunge.

It’s unrealistic to expect any body of open water to be completely free from floating debris – even outdoor swimming pools have to have filters – but that doesn’t mean the docks aren’t suitable for swimming.

With regular testing in place, the latest results show Middle Dock’s water rates “excellent” under the EU Bathing And Water Regulations 2013.

“The water quality here is absolutely incredible,” said Chess. “We run eight different sites around the UK and assist with 40 others and we have never seen quality this good.

“The Royal Docks are also very clean so we thought it would be good, but you can see down to the bottom and that’s incredibly rare with an industrial open water space like this.

“Rubbish really isn’t a concern in terms of health and I cannot stress that enough. When the tests are done, we look at the general water quality and the two things we’re looking for are e. coli and intestinal enterococci bacteria.

“Under the regulations for e. coli, for example, you can have up to 500 units found in the test water and it’s still considered safe to swim in.

“Here the reading was seven. That’s how exceptionally clean it is.

“That’s why it’s rated at the equivalent of a Blue Flag beach. We even challenge people when they come here. We have three unmarked bottles. 

“One is tap water, one is dock water and one is mineral water. You line them up and you just cannot tell the difference. 

“The clarity is amazing. Middle Dock is between five and eight metres deep and when you look down you can see absolutely everything.

“However clear you think it’s going to be, times that by 100 and you’ll still be surprised.

“When you look down, there’s old dock infrastructure, bits of pillar, green weed – but nothing that touches you – it’s all at the bottom. 

“When you get to the eight-metre bits, all you can see is darkness, like you’re looking into the night sky, with flashes of light reflecting off the bottom – it’s just stunning.

“One of my favourite spots is a place I like to think fish go to sunbathe and meet their future partners.”

Read more: Why Genomics England is moving to Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: Why Genomics England is relocating to One Canada Square

Headquarters of government-owned genome sequencing business set to arrive in Canary Wharf in the autumn

Genomics England CEO Chris Wigley
Genomics England CEO Chris Wigley – image James Perrin

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Right, so this headline is a bit disingenuous. Genomics England doesn’t, in the course of its operations, alter anyone’s DNA.

In fact, it captures whole human genomes, sequences them and uses the data for both personal NHS diagnoses and wider research.

However, its arrival in Canary Wharf is part of a bigger picture as the estate continues to grow and diversify.

Tropes about steel towers full of bankers are outdated, lazy stereotypes that nevertheless persist.

But perception often lags reality, which in turn can lag big announcements.

Earlier this year, Canary Wharf Group unveiled a project with Kadans Science Partner to create a 750,000sq ft, 22-storey, wet lab-enabled building in the first phase of its development of the North Quay site next to West India Quay DLR.

The scheme is at the forefront of the estate’s emerging vision to bring more health and life sciences businesses and organisations to the area – creating a cluster to rival those in Oxford and Cambridge. 

However, the building is not set to be delivered until 2026 – these things take time.

Much quicker in the timeline, will be the arrival of Genomics England.

Announced last month, the government-owned business is expected to take up residence on the 21st floor of One Canada Square in the autumn. 

The Wharf is already home to Barts Health NHS Trust, the Medicines And Heathcare Products Regulatory Authority, Medical Defence Union, General Pharmaceutical Council, NHS Transformation Unit and NHS Digital’s London office.

The addition of Genomics England adds further weight to that group, making east London an increasingly attractive destination for those operating in the sector.

“If you look around us, we’ve got an incredibly rich health and life sciences community in Canary Wharf,” said Chris Wigley, CEO of Genomics England.

“When we were thinking about where we wanted to be, somewhere with those kinds of organisation, that vision, where we can bring people together easily was really exciting.

“It’s also very close to Whitechapel, where the Royal London Hospital is, and to many universities.

 “We have all the ingredients here to do something special.

“What we saw during the pandemic was that, when our whole system pulls together, we can really lead the world in pathogen sequencing, genome sequencing and clinical trials, and we want to keep that sense of collaboration.

“Of course, very pragmatically, as a government-owned company, value for money is something we have to be pretty serious about too.”

Genomics England was originally set up to sequence 100,000 human genomes

Genomics England was originally set up by the Department Of Health And Social Care to run the 100,000 Genomes Project, following an announcement by then prime minister David Cameron at the 2012 Olympics.

“That was only about a decade after the first whole human genome had been sequenced, which took millions of dollars and thousands of scientists,” said Chris.

“You used to have to sequence DNA base pair by base pair, and there are something like 3.2trillion of them so it took a very long time.

“With the various changes that have collectively been made around next-generation sequencing, you can now do the sequencing in under an hour – although for a clinical case where we have an actual patient, we’d do that 30 times because even if the process is 99.999% accurate, when there are 3.2trillion results you need to be able to spot those errors.

“With DNA the numbers are huge, but if we do it 30 times we can be confident we’ve picked up any inconsistencies.”

Having sequenced 100,000 genomes by 2018, Genomics England is now engaged in two main areas of operation.

Chris said: “The first big thing we do is that we partner with the NHS to use whole genome sequencing to diagnose and make good decisions about patient treatment.

“This is the first health service on the planet to offer this, so that’s a genuine world first for Britain, which is great.

“Those insights are most relevant if you’ve got cancer or rare diseases, because those are things that we know are principally driven by changes in your genome.

“If you’re looking at the DNA, you can spot all of these areas where each of us is individually different from each other.

“So we’ve now got a catalogue where you can look up those changes, so we can see that if you’ve got them in your DNA, you may have a rare disease or a particular aspect of a cancer, for example, which we can then do something about.

“The second big thing is that we can anonymise all the data, put it in a separate environment and make it available to researchers from academia, from pharmaceutical companies and from biotech firms.

“It is still very sensitive data, though, so we have this model where the researcher has to come into our environment to look at it.

“We sometimes talk about being  an aquarium, not a fish shop, where people can come in, study what we have, admire the fish and go away again.

“Crucially, they can’t take the fish with them – that’s how we protect the data.”

Chris says there are a number of reasons for Genomics England’s move -image James Perrin

Chris knows all about protecting data. With a background as a business analyst and diplomat, his CV includes the role of chief operating officer at tech startup Quantum Black – a machine learning and AI company.

“I often use the word career as a verb rather than a noun,” he said. “I’ve done a number of things.

“I had a small scale startup in web design mostly putting tartan on Scottish companies’ sites.

“I spent time at the BBC doing analog to digital transitions and setting up their radio player and iPlayer.

“Quantum Black was originally building applications to solve complex problems for a range of clients including in Formula 1 to help the cars win more races and then taking that approach to aerospace, offshore wind and other advanced engineering firms.

“Then we realised that the same techniques could be applied to banking or to life sciences. So we ended up with a third of our work for pharmaceutical companies, on drug discovery and clinical trials.

“It was lots of big data sets and complex models and then taking the outputs from them and explaining them in a way that humans could do something with.”

Having accepted the job at Genomics England just under three years ago, he’s now presiding over a period of growth and change.

“Throughout the pandemic we did a huge amount of research on Covid, working with the NHS, Health Education England and others, on how understanding our DNA might help us to understand Covid better,” said Chris.

“We’ve kicked off a bunch of other new programmes as well, so we’ve grown a lot in terms of numbers – we’re now about 500, and we have a space in the Sanger Centre in Hinxton – we’ve just opened another office in Leeds as well.

“We may also open a fourth location, but broadly we’re now thinking of ourselves as a national network of people across the whole of England.

“The base here in Canary Wharf will be the nerve centre.

“The way we’ve thought about the space here is less about banks of desks and terminals and more about collaborative space, community space, social space, and also library space for people coming in to do deep work.

“For a lot of our people it’s a new part of town with new things to explore.

“I think a lot of people have a vision of Canary Wharf from the early 2000s – but as we’ve brought more people over here, they can see it’s really changed.”

The move is also preparation for the increasingly central role that our understanding of DNA will play in our healthcare as time moves on.

“We’re gradually learning more and more about how our DNA affects our health,” said Chris.

“The first wave of discoveries was in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, – rare diseases caused by a single change in your DNA such as sickle cell anaemia, for example.

“We now understand that cancer is really a disease of the genome, where unregulated growth of DNA causes cell growth that we we call tumours. That helps us to treat it.

“Then, as new techniques have come in, like machine learning, we can start to understand more complex relationships between what’s happening in our bodies and what’s happening in our DNA.

“For example, a combination of 75 changes, when combined with external stimulus such as smoking or not smoking could explain why a certain disease occurs.

“We’re getting more and more into areas like infectious diseases and understanding how DNA, makes RNA, which makes proteins that do everything in our bodies, and how that causal chain has certain outcomes that we can understand.

“Then, hopefully, we can intervene when necessary.

“We’re just in the process of launching a programme at the moment that we’ve been working on for a number of years, where we’ll be offering to sequence the whole genome of new-born babies to look for about 250 different things.

“That’s in addition to the current heel prick test that looks for about nine. If there is something that is early onset and treatable then the NHS can immediately address that so the patient will get the best outcome.

“Of course, we think a lot about the ethics of what we do.

“Our fundamental belief is that we shouldn’t be making decisions about people’s care – the people whose data it is and whose lives it is should be doing that.

“Our job is to be completely transparent, to help people understand what we’re doing so they can make the right choices for them.”

Read more: Discover Liberty Festival in Deptford

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: How Festival14’s packed programme is a whole new approach

Event running July 21-24 promises more than 50 performances to help people discover the Wharf


Festival14 will run from July 21-24, 2022 across Canary Wharf
Festival14 will run from July 21-24, 2022 across Canary Wharf

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Grandmaster Flash. Live, in Canada Square Park. For free.

Those words alone are testament to the fact that Festival14 is something new for Canary Wharf.

The DJ and hip hop pioneer –responsible for the first expression of scratching ever released on a record – is set to mix among the towers as the headline act on the main stage on July 21, 2022. And that’s just the first night.

Running Thursday-Sunday, Festival14 is set to fill the estate with more than 50 performances encompassing comedy, theatre, dance, family activities and, of course, music.

our MUSIC picks for FESTIVAL14
- July 21 - Grandmaster Flash
8.15pm, free, Canada Square Park
- July 22 - House Gospel Choir
8.30pm, free, Canada Square Park
- July 23 - Ronnie Scotts Jazz Orchestra
time TBC, free, Canada Square Park
- July 24 - Sona
time TBC, free, Canada Square Park

The mostly free events will run daily between noon and 10pm at a diverse selection of venues designed specifically to encourage visitors to explore Canary Wharf.

“We’d seen the success of events like our Winter Lights festival, which takes place across lots of different parts of the estate and the amazing buzz people feel when they arrive for that,” said senior arts and events manager at Canary Wharf Group, Pippa Dale.

“So we wanted to create a similar feeling for Festival14 so that it’s very obvious when people get here that there’s something really exciting and new happening.

“People in Canary Wharf are often quite set on the places they know – the places they go to lunch, for example – so we’re hoping this will help them explore and discover different areas.”

Most of the performances at Festival14 will be free
Most of the performances at Festival14 will be free

In addition to the dozens of performances and activities, there will also be a street food market every day in Montgomery Square and special offers from some bars, restaurants and cafes for the duration.

Canary Wharf Group director of arts and events Lucie Moore said: “Moving forward, we’re looking at putting on larger scale events over shorter periods of time to bring as many people as possible to the estate but also to change perceptions about the area.

“Events and cultural activities have always been really important to Canary Wharf in terms of placemaking and, since Covid, they’re something people are looking at and talking about even more.

our COMEDY picks for FESTIVAL14
- July 21 - Milton Jones, Jessica Fostekew
7.15pm, £11, Westferry Circus Roundabout
- July 22 - Reginald D Hunter, Jo Caulfield
6pm, £11, Westferry Circus Roundabout
-l July 23 - Paul Sinha, Felicity Ward
6pm, £11, Westferry Circus Roundabout
Follow this link for bookings

“These events are a real team effort and we couldn’t be able to do them without the work of so many people across Canary Wharf Group’s teams. 

“The estate is now busy and buzzy and with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, there’s the potential for even more people to visit.

“That’s an opportunity for us, in terms of events, because there are people who will come in from other areas who may not have done in the past.

“For Festival14 it will be really interesting to see what numbers we get in comparison to things like Winter Lights in past years.”

Events will take place from noon over the four days
Events will take place from noon over the four days

The full programme for Festival14 – a name inspired by Canary Wharf’s postcode, E14 – is still being finalised, with all updates expected online by July.  

Pippa said: “In contrast to previous years with our Tuesday night music concerts, we’ve booked some bigger acts.

“It’s a packed programme and, especially at the weekends, people will be able to listen from noon right through until 9pm or 10pm at night.

“Grandmaster Flash is our opening headliner and we think he will appeal to the audience that’s already here – a bit of nostalgia after a day in the office and a bit of a party.

our THEATRE picks for FESTIVAL14
- July 21 - 440 Theatre, Hamlet
1pm, free, Westferry Circus Roundabout
-l July 22 - The Canary Cabaret

7.30pm, free (ticketed), Crossrail Place Roof Garden
- July 23 - Mischief And Mayhem

5pm, free (ticketed), Crossrail Place Roof Garden
- July 24 - The Handlebards Romeo & Juliet
1pm, free, Westferry Circus Roundabout
Follow this link for bookings

“I’m really excited about having House Gospel Choir – they’re a group I’ve admired for a long time and we’ve been waiting for the right event to book them.

“They’re pretty local too, as is Hackney Colliery Band. We’re also really pleased to be able to host Sona on the Sunday, during her UK tour.

“The outdoor comedy at Westferry Circus also features some big names, so that’s ticketed because we have limited space and we’re expecting it to be very popular.

“We’ll be having open air theatre at that venue too with the return of The Handlebards who are fantastic and 440 Theatre who do Shakespeare plays in 40 minutes.”

The Handlebards are set to return to Westferry Circus
The Handlebards are set to return to Westferry Circus

There will also be a series of theatre performances at Crossrail Place Roof Garden – ticketed but free due to the capacity of the venue.

“Whenever we do anything we try to include the local community and local businesses and organisations around the estate,” said Lucie.

“We’re very fortunate to work where we are but we’re aware there are areas around us that need supporting.

“The Space has been operating up in the Roof Garden for years now and they were an obvious choice for us as a partner for part of Festival14 because they know that venue, we know what they do and they’ve put together a whole programme for us there.”

A range of kids activities will take place on the Saturday and Sunday, including dance music party Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave at Westferry Circus and puppetry in the form of Bus King Theatre: Marvelo’s Circus at Montgomery Square.  

“We’re really hoping, especially for families, that they will come and spend the whole day with us – do a workshop, have lunch and listen to some music,” said Lucie.

“We’ve really tried to cover a lot of areas and there will be one or two unexpected events too, such as a van that serves up takeaway poetry. We’re not finished yet.”

Here’s a little Grandmaster Flash to get you in the mood…

Read more: The O2 celebrates 15 years of gigs, events and performances

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Royal Docks: How Reset Connect brings people together to fight climate change

Inaugural event at Excel will see sustainability pioneers like Canary Wharf Group inspire others

Reset Connect CEO and co-founder Duncan Reid
Reset Connect CEO and co-founder Duncan Reid

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Duncan Reid has been an events man his whole career.

It started at university in the 1990s, organising parties with DJs at the students’ union.

Then there was a strategic move into the business sector, conveniently leaving Friday and Saturday nights free for attending music events rather than putting them on.

In 2010 he joined Clarion Events – one of the largest companies organising conferences, shows and exhibitions in the world – rising to become MD and executive vice president of its energy division.  

“I was already managing the move away from coal, gas, oil and fossil fuel extraction – there were big things happening with carbon emissions,” he said. “Then the pandemic hit.”

With the events sector among the hardest hit, Covid meant many shows didn’t take place for two years, contractors were left without work and organising companies laid off staff.

For Duncan, it was an opportunity to take a step back and decide on a future direction.

“I started looking around for what I wanted to do,” he said. “Then I realised sustainability should be my focus and that it was important that we fast-tracked as much of this sector as possible.

“The two big challenges before the pandemic were that the pace of adoption was not fast enough and – the really big one – was that, even if a company wanted to roll out sustainability, whatever they wanted to do, there was a big funding gap.

“For example, if you were a company that made ready meals and you wanted to move to using electric vehicles with refrigeration to transport them, then that would be quite a hassle for a small business.

“Big corporates can have a sustainability strategy and can appoint someone to oversee it, but for small businesses it’s quite a challenge.

“Then if you’re a startup, it’s hard enough to get your idea off the ground let alone managing your impact on the environment at the same time.”

That led Duncan to the idea for Reset Connect – a new conference and exhibition that is set to get its first outing over two days at Excel in Royal Docks.

Taking place on June 28 and 29, 2022 – during London Climate Action Week – the event will see more than 100 exhibitors and sustainability partners showcase their services and more than 150 speakers discussing a very wide range of topics.

Canary Wharf Group – long a pioneer in environmentally friendly development and stewardship – will be represented by head of sustainability Sophie Goddard at a panel discussion, starting at 11.15pm on the event’s second day.

She, together with representatives of Sintali, Savills Investment Management, Hark Systems and Mitie, will seek to illuminate processes and technology that can be implemented now to fight climate change.

That’s just one session in a packed programme and the two-day event will also see opening keynote speeches from Doughnut Economics Action Lab co-founder Kate Raworth on the first day and World Wildlife Fund chief executive Tanya Steele on the second.

Reset Connect aims to help businesses become more sustainable
Reset Connect aims to help businesses become more sustainable

With the Elizabeth Line’s arrival shrinking the gap between Canary Wharf and Custom House (the station adjacent to the venue) to three minutes, Reset Connect is also easily accessible. 

“The idea is really to pool the learnings that the corporate sector has and to share them among peers to help everyone benefit,” said Duncan.

“It’s analogous to what’s happened in finance with technology.

People would queue up in branches of banks to withdraw money and then go to another bank to pay that money into someone else’s account 15 years ago.

Now there’s an app on your phone, you’re sending money to someone else and you don’t even think about it.

“This is where we’re at with sustainability – this is where we move away from carbon quite massively.

“It’s really easy for us to keep using oil but then we certainly won’t be here in 100 years.

“So we need to try to work out how we can reduce carbon emissions on a scale similar to the fintech revolution. 

“That is quite daunting, because a lot of the technology is in the early stages of development, but we need to do something major, quickly because the dial isn’t moving fast enough.”

That’s exactly the issue that Reset Connect will be addressing – how to rapidly shift away from a system that destroys the planet to one that allows humanity to go on and thrive. It’s no small ambition.

“The point of the event is to get people who are already doing things well to talk about what they do, how to speed up adoption, what funding they use and whether they borrow money or use assets to do it so others can learn,” said Duncan.

“Obviously it’s a work in progress and it’s a really complex area. One of the reasons it’s called ‘Reset’ is because part of the issue is about how you measure success. 

“In the past that has always been linked to a profit measure but over the next 10 years it will increasingly become about impact. It’s about asking how we measure it, what we put our money into and what we really value.

“People are already talking about this in the corporate world, as are shareholders and the startup community.

“People also want to know how they can invest their pensions and savings in these areas.

“Some businesses may say that because they’re not listed it won’t affect them, but it will affect everyone. At some point you’ll be part of someone’s supply chain and that means you need to be thinking about it.

“Then there are the big fossil fuel companies – there are lots of pension funds invested in them so it’s really complex.

“Do you take the money out or do you find a way to work with them to be better, because the danger is that they will carry on being bad if you don’t?”

The show will take place at Excel in the Royal Docks
The show will take place at Excel in the Royal Docks

Duncan said there was a real appetite not only to tackle these topics, but also to do so in person with Reset Connect bringing together businesses, activists and politicians.

“I think the thing we really missed during the pandemic was people coming together, face-to-face,” he said. 

“The analogy I use about events is that they are like a football match.

“You can watch it on TV but it is so much better if you go to a game with five of your mates – it’s a completely different experience. That’s why we try and make as much of our content free as possible.

“While Covid fast-tracked the adoption of video call technology, things are so much more productive when you can shake someone’s hand and see and feel the products they are selling first-hand.

“I think that, if we’re going to tackle some of the climate challenges we’ve got, then we’ll achieve more if we’re able to get round a table, meet at a stand or talk about it over a beer with someone you’ve unexpectedly met but share a common purpose with.

“A lot of it is about serendipity and also discovering the things you didn’t know, but really needed to. 

“Of course you can sit at home and google ‘cities’ or ‘city infrastructure’ and that will give you a load of information, some of which may well be very interesting.

“But it won’t be the same as having Sophie Goddard from Canary Wharf Group tell you about its partnership with the Eden Project and what their vision is for that.

“You might stumble across some details on page 25 of your search – but that’s not the same as having a leading developer telling you how it builds cities for the future, what that looks like and what the partnership between business and finance needs to look like to make it happen.

“At Reset Connect, you’ll hear from experts like the Mayor Of Copenhagen, for example, telling you what that city has done to become a world leader in sustainability.

“And all of this is just one stop away from Canary Wharf on the Elizabeth Line.”

  • Reset Connect’s exhibition is free for visitors to attend with registration. Access to the conference is via delegate pass. 

For startups, scaleups, not-for-profits, academic institutions and public sector organisations these start at £295 per person. Advance delegate passes cost £600.

Readers can get 25% off their booking at Reset Connect by using code WL25.

Duncan said in-person events were great for sharing ideas
Duncan said in-person events were great for sharing ideas

Read more: Why the Elizabeth Line is a game changer for events at Excel

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via jon.massey@wharf-life.com
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Canary Wharf: Exhibition at Crossrail Place celebrates Black Culture in Britian

Association Of Photographers and Canary Wharf Group display winning images in the Roof Garden

Kanika Carr from John Ferguson’s Black Suffolk series

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Nestled in the foliage of Crossrail Place Roof Garden, Wharfers can find a selection of images displayed to mark Black History Month.

The month-long exhibition is the result of an open contest by Canary Wharf Arts And Events and the Association Of Photographers for snappers to submit pictures that display the creativity, beauty and strength of the black community in Britain.

The best images have been selected and form the Black Culture In Britain photography exhibition now in place at Canary Wharf.

AOP communications coordinator Suzanne McDougall said: “When you have an amazing topic like this you have myriad possibilities – when you look at the work that’s been submitted you have so many experiences, so many voices coming together to tell very different stories that form part of a whole.

“The space is great for really looking at the boards displaying the work – seeing images at that scale is always very impactful.

“When you start to learn a little more about the person who has been photographed it’s very rewarding and I think revealing of how photography offers so many different routes to come at a particular topic.

“The images are beautifully positioned so you can take some time, walk through the roof garden, appreciate the work and be struck by the talent and diversity on display.

“It’s important to show photographs in spaces like this because people should have access to images. 

“It’s a reminder that the cities we live in are made up of people of lots of different cultures and backgrounds – having that exposure to different voices is always a really good thing. It stops people.”

Black Culture In Britain will be on display in Canary Wharf until October 31.

WINNER’S WORDS

Leroy Logan by Mark Harrison

Run as a competition, Black Culture In Britain comprises the gold and silver winners, selected from more than 200 entries by AOP For All, a group that strives to increase awareness of photographers of colour by making both them and their work more visible within the industry. It also includes work by six runners up.

Taking the top prize was Mark Harrison’s image of former Met Police officer and author Leroy Logan – recently the subject of one of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films for the BBC.

Mark said: “I’ve been a photographer my whole life – shooting professionally for 32 years. I started working on the premise that I wanted to avoid a job that involved the same commute every day and that I probably couldn’t do anything else.

“In that time it’s gone from film to digital – from transparency, which was very difficult to use, to negative, which was easier and now digital, which is even easier – the biggest change has been in the element of professionalism. 

“That was because most people wouldn’t have had a clue how to shoot slide film whereas now everybody can shoot digitally because it does a lot of it for you.

“We can all produce good results, a few can produce brilliant results, but in the olden days nobody could produce anything unless they were a professional. The whole game has changed massively.”

Detail from Latoya Okuneye’s silver winning image

If you do something well you get asked to do more of it and I’ve always taken pictures of authors,” said Mark, who is based in Tunbridge Wells and has a varied career working for print publications as well as capturing images for TV shows and corporate clients. 

“The shot of Leroy I submitted was taken at the same shoot I did for his book cover.

“What happened was, I completed what they asked me to do and he had this incredible suit on, and I just wanted to do something separately for me.

“He had such an amazing presence – my assistant, who didn’t really know who he was, said: ‘My God that man has something’. 

“I asked him to stay an extra half hour, changed the lighting and tried to capture that intensity.

“He really liked it – I sent it to him afterwards, but it never got used and I kept it as my memento from that shoot. Everybody in the room talked about him for ages afterwards.

“He had extraordinary stories and the Small Axe film had just come out so his whole life had just been put on screen.

“We’ve stayed in touch ever since and I just think he’s quite something. He represents a lot about London, about changing times and how race has changed in my lifetime. To me he’s a symbol of lots of things. 

“In my game, anything to do with the AOP is hugely important – their contests are the gold standard of achievement. I submitted this image because this topic came up and I thought: ‘This is perfect’. I was absolutely staggered to have my image named the gold winner.

“I’m personally really thrilled – I’ve never won anything with the AOP before.

“One of the reasons I thought Leroy to be interesting as a submission was because I guessed most people would represent younger black culture. He’s had an incredible life, experienced terrible racism and he’s done so much.

“I’ve photographed many people of significance and I’ve never forgotten him – he’s very cool.”

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