We caught up with Amanda Pearce, one half of the duo behind the The Great Big SE4 and SE23 Raffle who is  passionate about indie businesses and shopping small.  Amanda had The Last Word in the May issue of SE23.

I’m Amanda Pearce, Forest Hill resident, mum to two boys, coffee addict, crocheter, classically trained soprano, and Australian export.


How long have you lived in the area? I’ve been a Forest Hill local for nearly 7.5 years, arriving in December 2012.

What brought you here? The offer of a spare room, whilst I found my feet in freezing London after moving from Australia. I loved the feel of the area so much that I found a room to rent, and never left!

What has changed most during that time? The shop-fronts have certainly changed! There’s always a tug of sadness that the Laundromat was replaced by an estate agent, but it’s been great to see some of the diversity opening up along Dartmouth Road and how well it’s been received.

What do you most value about the area/street you live in? The wonderful sense of community, and community spirit. Our youngest child suffers from an undiagnosed neurological condition and was extremely unwell at birth, requiring aggressive resuscitation, induced hypothermia, and a 10-week NICU stay. Thanks to a group of selfless women, via SE23 Mums, and some of the kind businesses in the area, our family were supported through the hardest time of our lives. This raffle is my opportunity to say thank you and repay that spirit to the community as a whole.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met? Dame Emma Kirkby: I was incredibly lucky to be selected to sing in a masterclass for her whilst studying music at the University of Melbourne. She is one of my lifelong music idols.

Where are you likely to be found on Saturday? Typically close to home, surrounded by crochet hooks and balls of yarn, working on any current orders.

What is your favourite place to eat? With two young children, we rely on the takeaway experience for a special evening meal. Big Cheeks Thai and Babur To Go are two favourites, and have been getting us through lockdown with a smile.

Coffee or tea? Where? Coffee. Always. St David Coffee House is my second home, preferably accompanied by one of Sian’s baked creations, or the perfect poached egg.

Cafe, pub or bar? Café! We are truly spoiled for excellent café options in SE London, and I struggle to say no to a coffee.

Where’s your favourite place to walk? It may be clichéd, but I never tire of taking a spin around the Horniman Gardens and checking out our view of the city. Dulwich Wood is another lovely walk, in any season.

If money was no object… I’d buy a house in Forest Hill, make time for my music again, and pour the rest into finding a diagnosis and support for our little one’s medical condition.

My perfect holiday.. Anywhere where we can be a family, especially after our last 12 months. I’m a complete Francophile and have a love affair with Paris, but the longer I live in the UK, the more it’s simply going home to my loved ones in Australia, eating at all my favourite places in Melbourne, and breathing in the gum trees.

You can still buy raffle tickets until Thursday 7th May.

 Photo: Amanda and Christoper