History of Friends of Wollaton Park

Steve Battlemuch by Arbor Oak

The idea for the formation of Friends of Wollaton Park was hatched in June 2013 during a council by-election in Wollaton West.

As a candidate in the election, Steve Battlemuch made commitments to improve the Park’s play area. However, he was challenged by a resident on the issue of the drainage in the park around the Harrow Road entrance where a large amount of water had amassed known by locals as the Harrow Road Lake! The resident said much more work was needed than just a new play area.

From that exchange, Steve started to think and talk about the formation of a Friends group which could articulate the need for improvements with the council and help with such improvements, maybe through a small volunteer programme.

After Steve’s successful election, he organised an open meeting at St Leonard’s Community Centre to discuss launching a Friends group. Over eighty people attended and it was agreed that the idea of a group should be taken forward. A couple of meetings were then held involving those who were interested in helping to get it started. Of those who were there at the beginning, Helen Mitchem volunteered to be the Secretary and Chris Daniel the Treasurer. They remain in post to this day, August 2023. Rob Kirkwood volunteered to be Vice-Chair, which he now is, but nobody stepped forward to be Chair, so Rob actually chaired the group through its early years. Steve contributed funds from his community budget to kickstart the group, ensuring that leaflets could be produced and the group could function until it was able to fundraise itself. During that Autumn, in 2013, many people came but just as many went. However, Helen, Rob and Chris kept going, with support from Steve and members of staff at the Council, notably Lylse-Anne Renwick, Fliss Hogg, James Dymond and Eddie Curry.

Commenting recently, Steve said

“The formation of the Friends of Wollaton Park is one of the achievements I’m most proud of. It has taken off in ways none of us could imagine back then. The volunteer programme delivers thousands of hours of work that has vastly improved the park. I’m so grateful to the brilliant volunteers who launched FoWP and continue its brilliant work.”

Steve Battlemuch

Over the next year, it was hard to get the critical mass of members involved in running the group but we made strides in communication, we set up our Facebook group and Kevin Beswick became involved, taking an invaluable lead in organising Task Days. In due course, a few years later, Kevin would become the Chair of the group.

The major turning point was the initial Annual General Meeting, by which time the inaugural committee was down to the three people mentioned. This took place at the Hall on 7th October 2014. At this meeting, we adopted our constitution, which remains the basis of our current one. But most importantly, we had a fantastic response to the request for members to volunteer to help run FoWP by being on the committee. Several people who have become key committee members joined at this AGM, most notably Moyra Cornish, Mark Jacobs and Kevin Beswick. We would have to wait another year for the Petes, Forster and Green. Thus began another era and the beginning of the largest project with which we have been involved, the Walled Garden Project.

2023 Committee
Some of the FoWP 2023 Committee.

Since then, our committee has grown further, with an official membership in the teens, and around 12 members at each committee meeting. We have been involved with the development of the Nottingham Open Spaces Forum; we represent the interests of the Park, Hall and the community with the City Council and other bodies. Over the years since these small beginnings, volunteering has taken place at sites all across the park, on weekends and weekdays, for all ages and in all weathers. Our overall park task list is never ending and always changing in terms of places and activities. The group has, as of August 2023, carried out 25,000 hours of volunteer activity.

10th Anniversary

July 2023 saw the Friends group celebrate 10 years since we started.

Questions or Queries?

If that does not help then please get in touch with us…