Since time began, the Wimbledon summer has circulated around the tennis fortnight.

From the first of July, our streets have been filled with smiling happy people walking to and from the courts, spilling in and out of shops, pubs, bars and restaurants with banter and cheer. Not this year. 2020 paints a different picture, one that belongs solely to the residents of our town.

Slowly stepping out of our homes, it is a relief we are not met with swarms of people. The quieter streets suit our current climate, but without tills ringing and the bell of last orders drowned out by the uproar of punters – many of our most beloved shops and pubs will certainly struggle to make ends meet.

Wimbledon Times:

Noel Nevin, the owner of one of the few remaining independent pubs left in our town was totally devastated when the government announced the lockdown. He built The Cavern Freehouse in Raynes Park over 30 years ago and has managed it alongside other places very successfully over that period. However, nothing could have prepared him for months of closed doors. As I walked past his pub, gratefully sipping my cappuccino from local independent Babylon, I noticed the windows were being given a fresh lick of paint. News that he can open again soon came as a massive relief to Noel. I asked him how the new one metre rule will help him open the doors once more. “It will be tricky to implement,” he confessed. “I’m used to The Cavern bursting most weekends, but I’ll give it my best shot.”

As the lockdown eases, the survival of these retailers and public houses depend on us. I have hazy memories of getting drunk at The Cavern over 20 years ago, singing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ at the top of my strained smoky lungs. I had safely tucked the venue and memories away. Yet, this time makes me crave a moment back to sit outside Noel’s pub and get to know it all over again, even if it is without the whisky, loud music and skinny cigarettes.

Wimbledon Times:

However, whilst we tread carefully into our new fragile world, others are still trapped in poverty and disconnected from their school life. My heart has sunk often during lockdown, but never as hard as hearing the Education Secretary announce that children, (yes, most children), will not return to full time education until September! I looked into my kids eyes and told them, they cried and I cried. They have not seen their teacher or friends for months and it’s taking its toll on all of us. It’s hard for them to fathom, they are still the lucky ones. They have food and technology to keep them connected to the curriculum. It is hardly ideal. Parents have a ghastly daily choice of working or home schooling kids. Believe me, for so many hard working families, both are beyond stressful. But what about the families in our borough where it is just stretching them too far?

The Dons Local Action Group continues to evolve as they hear the needs of children. “Keeping the community in need fed and students connected to the world is our main focus for now,” Lily McConnell told me. It was impossible to miss her and other local dedicated superstars outside Tesco dressed as fruit! Their high energy and commitment was infectious. I wrongly assumed they were only collecting non-perishable food, but the girls dressed as a giant strawberry and banana clearly indicated otherwise. “We would love shoppers to also donate fresh fruit and veg.” Impressively, their operation has become so slick, they are now delivering fresh food the day after it has been donated. The AFC Wimbledon fans and local volunteers are positioned outside nearly every supermarket collecting basics for families in our borough.

Wimbledon Times:

Volunteers at the Old Wimbledonians Association also remain stationed on Coombe Lane every Saturday. Yet, now with schools still remaining inaccessible to so many students, the cry is for old laptops. Those machines collecting dust in our homes can be a lifeline for students who desperately need to access their school work this summer. So far the Dons Local Action Group have delivered over 500 laptops, but now have a waiting list of 247 that keeps growing due to the harsh reality kids have endless weeks ahead of them.

If there is a chance you have an old laptop, which is no longer used, please let them know at

We are certainly heading for a unique Wimbledon summer. Wimbledon Village may not have flags up this year, Love Wimbledon won’t have a big screen showing the tennis and children will be restless. But, we have to do what we can to support local businesses, families who are struggling and find safe creative ways to keep ourselves sane.

Wimbledon Times:

Slowly, slowly, people will soon be able to enjoy the experience of shopping and eating out. Pub gardens will soon open and that familiar feeling of people laughing and being sociable will return. It’s obvious, it won’t be as it was. No hugging, group selfies, kissing and that’s just the girls. But, as Noel wisely says, we need to give it our best very careful shot.

Stay safe y’all.



Love Wimbledon’s Local Market on The Piazza: 27th-28th June

Wimbledon Village Farmers Market: Every Sunday