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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Chairman’s Annual Report - 2010

We’ve had another busy year in the Parks.

We’ve had another busy year in the Parks. All of the work supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund has now been completed. The Water Gardens was opened to the public in October and has proved very popular, although the cascade has been closed down for a while to allow repairs to the lining of the upper pool. The cascade should be running again soon. [The water flow was running again on March 14th].

Even more popular than that is the new Pheasantry Welcome Centre opened in August last year, and drawing hundreds of people a day into that area of the park.

The Diana Fountain has also been cleaned and restored during last year, and once the danger of frost has gone, the water spouts will be turned on. The Friends have recorded the entire restoration process. There is a DVD available for £5, all the profits go to FBHP’s annual appeal. They are available at all the Friends’ events, including Chestnut Sunday.

As always the chestnut trees are being watched very carefully to determine how much damage the leaf miner and the bleeding canker are doing. The park team cleared all the fallen leaves in the autumn to try to deter the leaf miner.

The main controversy of the year has been the proposal of The Royal Parks Agency to introduce parking charges in Bushy and Richmond Parks. In March last year we, and many local residents groups formed the Keep Bushy Park Free Alliance and organised a petition to be collected. The 6,500 signatures were handed in to the Royal Parks headquarters by Vincent Cable. There was a rally in Richmond Park in January which was attended by well over a thousand people all registering their disapproval of the plan. The Minister, Margaret Hodge – despite enormous opposition, not only from local people but regular park users, all the councils that surround the parks and visitors from far and wide – has decided that parking charges should be introduced.

The Alliance is still urging people to write to the minister to make her change her mind. It is still not too late to write. [There was a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday 10th March to reject the proposals outright. This failed to get the required number of votes. A second amendment was passed which to register the House’s “regret” that the government were proceeding with the plan and urged the government to reconsider.]

Back to happier things. We had a good selection of Walks and Talks throughout the year, organised by Jane Cliff, which have been very well attended with up to 60 joining us on the walks, and occasionally over a hundred at the talks, so I thank all our speakers and walk leaders for giving their time and entertaining us so well.

I’d like to thank all the trustees and members of the committee for their work and enthusiasm throughout the year. If anyone else is interested in giving the Friends a little more support in protecting our parks, we really could do with some help on the committee with maybe – leading walks or writing reports of them for the newsletter and web site.

We also need more volunteers to help run the Pheasantry Welcome Centre where the Friends run the Information Point at weekends, half terms and Bank Holidays in two shifts from 10 until 2. If you can spare a couple of hours occasionally at a weekend, we would be most grateful if you would contact Rosemary MacColl.

Our web site, thanks to Mark Buckley, was redesigned last year and is working very well and has many visitors. Do please join in and let us know what you have seen in the parks with photos as well, or anything else you’d like to say about the parks. Mark updates it regularly so it’s a good way to keep in touch with what’s going on. The web site address is www.fbhp.org.uk.

As you will know the Friends have applied to become a charity following a Special General Meeting last year. There is one clause which the Charities Commission would like to be inserted before our list of objectives in our constitution before they grant us charity status. It is as follows. “The Charity’s objects (the “Objects”) are, for the benefit of the general public, to provide or assist in the provision of facilities for recreation and other leisure time occupation in the interests of social welfare with the objects of improving the conditions of life of the public in particular by the preservation, promotion, support, assistance and improvement of Bushy Park and Home Park. In furtherance of the above objects, but not further or otherwise, the Charity shall have the following powers”: Under our constitution it is required that we hold a Special General Meeting for members to approve the change. We also have to give a clear month’s notice to all our membership, so in the next newsletter due out at the beginning of April, we will formally announce that we will be holding an SGM on Thursday 27th May following the talk on Wildlife Photography by Barry Hilling.

Our appeal this year will be for money to replace the finials on top of the walls and stoop basins of the Water Gardens cascade. This will help to finish off the wonderful restoration work so far, which, of course, the Friends started off in the 1990s by setting up the Water Gardens Trust. None of the finials exist, but the design of them is shown in the painting at Hampton Court. We propose to replace as many as we can afford. They will cost from about £1000 to £2000. All the profits from the Diana Restoration DVD will go towards the appeal, so do please be as generous as you can. It would wonderful to complete the view of the dramatic cascade.

NB: Items in square brackets are updates since the AGM.

Pieter Morpurgo, Chairman. 15th March 2010.

Why we need more Friends

With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 23rd Nov 8:00 pm

The Royal Parks in the Great War. Talk by David Ivison

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...

Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors to find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.