04 May 2020


A Lifetime’s Work is a photographic exhibition, supported by Brent 2020 Culture Fund, that celebrates and recognises the importance of family businesses in the London Borough of Brent.

Curated and photographed by Brent photographer Jude Wacks, the inspiration for the photographic project came from John Gibbons, a local Greengrocer, who has stood near Dollis Hill tube station for the last 43 years.

In sharing John’s personal story, and the many others within the borough who have dedicated themselves to their family businesses and local communities, the project focuses on families serving the community within Brent and celebrates and recognises the diversity of independent family businesses. Over generations, these businesses have played a major role to the local community, and to the wider world in the past, the present and into the future.

Launching on Instagram (@a_lifetimes_work) the project will be updated continually with many local family businesses that were commissioned for the project. These include: John The Greengrocer – Dollis Hill, Palm Beach Fish & Chips – Kensal Rise, O’Farrell’s Butcher – Willesden Green, Browns Edwards Shoe Repair – Kensal Rise, Gayatri Sweet Mart – Kingsbury, Gee Barbers – Kensal Rise, Munro Stores – Cricklewood, Arena Restaurant – Wembley, and Kaye's Curtain & Blinds – Harlesden.



Online from Mon 4 May





I dreamt of being different – Brown Edwards Shoe Repair.

Satish Umeria was born in Kenya, into a long line of shoe makers. His family came to the UK when Satish was aged seven in 1968, settling in Manchester and later Leicester.

Growing up as a member of the traditional Hindu community of the north and educated in the British system, Satish like many dreamt of being different from his traditional elders.

“I worked for several years in a textile firm, producing fabric colours for each M&S collection, but unfortunately, like a lot of multiples trying to cut costs, M&S started buying from abroad and northern textile factories began to close down. I was a casualty of those cut backs”

Satish now has young children and is married to Bhagway, who herself came to the UK as a young child after her family escaped the political unrest of the 1970’s Ugandan administration.

“I returned to the trade I was familiar with. That was nearly 40 years ago!”

Brown Edwards Shoe Repair
122 Chamberlayne Road
Kensal Rise
London NW10 3JP

I didn’t listen to nobody! – Palm Beach Fish & Chips

Costa Nicephorou grew up in Cyprus wanting to be a Policeman. The government and economics of the time were in turmoil, so in 1961, aged 23 Costa left Cyprus for London.

Costa began his working life in London at Shephard’s Bush Market running a café for the next seven years.

"I used to make fish & chips there only on a Friday, I used to fry place & chips. I had many West Indian customers as my café was next door to a West Indian food importer”

The Shephard’s Bush café was a successful thriving business, but Costa dreamt of owning his own business that would provide accommodation for his young family and save himself the £50 rent. This became reality and Costa inspired by an exotic location calendar, named it the Palm Beach. There has been a fish shop at this location for over 100 years.

"This area used to have a very large ethnic community and be a bit of a ghetto. Everybody tried to stop me from setting up here, they told me stories trying to put me off. That West Indians don’t eat fish, this & that….a lot of stories. I didn’t listen to nobody and in 1970, I decided to make the business on my own!"

"Now I am 82, I hope to retire soon, but I don’t know what I’ll do!"

D.N.A – John the Greengrocer

Being the 3rd generation of the Gibbons family to be a Greengrocer, fruit and veg is part of John’s D.N.A. John (56) began working with his Father on the stall aged 11; 43 winters ago outside Dollis Hill tube station where John can still usually be found 7 days a week.

The Gibbons family have been part of the fabric of Brent for 150 years. John’s Great Grandfather Tango Gibbons, who would have been 106 years old this year, grew up in Kilburn and began the family tradition when he became a Greengrocer for Alexanders in Maida Vale.

“My dad used to push the barrow down the Kilburn High Road. My dad was quite a hard man, you weren’t allowed to get sick” John’s father, also called John, began his working life as a Greengrocer with another local Greengrocer M. Wright Fruit & Veg, Cricklewood. John’s father then began working at the shops present location for Wellmax Fruiter.