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The four judges of the upcycling competition at the London Upcycling Show 2017

Spotlight on reuse at London Upcycling Show

Posted on 24 November 2017

More than 250 people flocked to the Walthamstow Assembly Hall last Sunday (19 November) for the second ever London Upcycling Show, hosted by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and environmental charity Groundwork London.

The event was held as part of the European Week for Waste Reduction, with activities happening across London from 18-26 November.

The show hosted the final stage of the upcycling competition for north Londoners, which saw entrants from Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest vying for top spot. They all had less than three weeks to upcycle an item from one of five furniture categories.

Tommy Walsh (of Ground Force fame) and vlogger The Home Genie ( aka TV presenter Georgina Burnett, joined Waltham Forest locals Chris Barrett from thinkFOUND furniture and Andy Dickson aka 'The Chair Man' in judging the 25 entries on display and awarding prizes worth up to £150 in DIY vouchers.

Those attending the show were also invited to vote for an entry to win People’s Choice.

Helen Westerby from Waltham Forest won the overall competition by upcycling a bucket armchair that had seen better days into a beautiful armchair.

Helen said, “Doing this project has shown me that, with a bit of thought, it’s amazing what can be done with a piece of old furniture you’d never think you could reuse. It’s taught me not to dismiss something because of its outdated shape or worn appearance.

“It made me think really hard and push my capabilities. I’m a Clothing Design Pattern Maker by trade and so already had the basis of some of the skills needed. It was nevertheless very difficult, particularly given the timescale and the fact that I have no upholstery equipment, but it was great fun and very rewarding. I really enjoyed it!”

Congratulations to all 25 entrants on the quality of their entries, and especially to the other prize winners:

  • Best Upcycled Bedside Cabinet (For Child) – Terry May, from LB Haringey
  • Best Upcycled Upright Chair – Camilla Tepasse, from LB Waltham Forest
  • Best Upcycled Armchair – Barnet Furniture Centre, entry by volunteers from LBs Enfield & Barnet
  • Best Upcycled Side Table – Lindsey Molyneux, LB Camden
  • Best Upcycled Sideboard – Luke Newcombe, from LB Haringey
  • People’s Choice – a draw between the upcycled bedside cabinet (for child) by KIDS Adventure Play, from LB Hackney, and the upcycled sideboard by Carol for The Loop @ Grahame Park, from LB Barnet

We know how everyone loves a makeover, so you can check out the before and after of all 25 entries in this slideshow.


Reusing furniture helps reserve valuable resources and diverts reusable items from disposal. In the UK each year, 10 million items of furniture are thrown away, many of which are still in good condition.

By showcasing reuse and upcycling initiatives in the capital, and highlighting the talents of local residents, this event sought to encourage more Londoners to move away from the ‘throw away culture’ and try repairing, repurposing or donating items rather than disposing of them.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority said: “Through this event we hoped to encourage everyone to consider upcycling their own furniture or buying reused furniture – it’s unique, stylish and great value for money. And we particularly hoped to inspire each other to try upcycling and learn new skills.

“The show may be over for this year, but we will continue doing our bit to highlight the importance of reuse and run projects which promote and provide opportunities for reuse. For example, we’ll be running seven Give and Take Days coming up in January and February 2018.”

Ben Coles, Director of Communities and Environmental Services at Groundwork London added: “There was a great vibe at this year’s London Upcycling Show. All the people who came were keen to learn something new, have a go, and get some inspiration for upcycling furniture they might otherwise throw away – and the exhibitors and competition entrants were keen to share their skills and experience,”

“We love helping Londoners get excited about living greener lives – giving them practical ways to reduce waste, conserve valuable resources, and minimise our capital’s impact on the environment. Hopefully everyone who came will pass on what they learned at the event to their family, friends, community and workplaces.” 

Interested in giving upcycling a go? For more information about furniture reuse in north London, we recommend North London Waste Authority’s Wise Up to Waste website.

Visit the Wise Up to Waste website

If you live in Barnet or Hackney, we also recommend visiting The Loops, local reuse hubs, to check out the upcycled furniture for sale or to find out about upcycling workshops:

Visit the The Loop @ Grahame Park

Visit the The Loop @ Pembury