THE FRIENDS OF INGREBOURNE VALLEY & HORNCHURCH COUNTRY PARK

 

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 5 June 2014

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

 

Welcome to the second Annual General Meeting of The Friends of Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park.

 

The Friends Group was officially formed on 21st April 2012 following an initial period of consultation with park users and local residents undertaken by the Ingrebourne Valley Project, a partnership between the London Borough of Havering and Essex Wildlife Trust.

 

The Friends Group has five key aims and objectives:

1. To promote the wide and responsible use of the Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park (The Valley).

2. To enhance The Valley for the benefit of the whole community.

3. To improve the recreational, environmental and educational facilities of The Valley.

4. To enhance, protect and promote the natural environment of The Valley

5. To protect and promote any historical artefacts and the heritage of The Valley.

 

Following its formation, The Friends Group initially supported and assisted activities run and coordinated by the Ingrebourne Valley Project, but we are now increasingly hosting and planning our own events.  Monthly Committee meetings are held and plans are in place to further advance the above aims and objectives throughout 2014/15.

 

Highlights of the last 12 months have included:

 

  •  Forming monthly work parties with members and volunteers.  These have included tree planting, river clean ups, the removal of invasive non- native species and litter sweeps.  Work parties have been hosted both at week-ends and during the week  and received positive coverage in the local media.

 

  • Achieving Official Friends Group status from Havering Council for the second year.

 

  • Successful applications for both Community Chest and Capital Clean Up grants to enable the purchase of equipment so that the monthly work parties and future shows and events are fully equipped and self- sufficient

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  • Successful application to the Woodland Trust to enable the acquisition and planting of over 400 saplings in the Park.

 

  • Planning and hosting our own hugely successful Dog Show & Fun Event within the Park in September 2013.  This proved to be extremely popular with attendances far exceeding our best expectations.

 

  • Supporting events run by the Ingrebourne Valley Project such as the “Halloween Spooktacular” and Half Term events.

 

  • Attending training courses hosted by Essex Wildlife Trust to enable members to identify and protect the habitat within the Park of one of the country’s most rapidly declining species, the water vole.

 

  • Participating in consultation workshops organised by the Environmental Agency with Thames Chase and Thames 21 relating to the Rivers Roding, Beam & Ingrebourne Catchment Development Plan.  We have also attended training courses hosted by the Environment Agency and Essex Wildlife Trust to enable members to participate in River Surveys of the Ingrebourne.

 

  • Successfully applying for a grant of nearly £5,000 from the London Cycling Campaign to train and host events throughout 2014 within the Park that will promote safe and responsible cycling, combined with bike maintenance sessions , themed cycle rides and a BMX competition.

 

  • Assisting Havering Environmental Education Partnership with their Bio Blitz weekend at Thames Chase by providing wild life enthusiasts and volunteers.

 

  • Engaging with Havering Council and the company responsible for the proposed land fill development at Ingrebourne Hill through meetings and correspondence, so that members may be fully informed of all facts relating to the proposals.

 

  • Hosting an historical talk relating to Hornchurch and the First World War at a well attended Open Meeting.

 

  • Engaging with Havering Council and Essex Wildlife Trust to explore the possibility of a suitable commemorative memorial to properly reflect the part played by The Valley during World War I.

 

  • The further development of the Friends Group website to include social media enabling increased interaction with the local community.

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  • Being represented by members  at a stall at the 2013 Havering Show.

 

  • Responding to members queries and concerns via the website relating to litter removal, path clearing, flooding and general enquiries.

 

  • Ongoing liaison with the Essex Wildlife Trust and Havering Parks Department so that the Friends Group may assist with fund raising activities and raising awareness in respect of the proposed Visitor Centre which is due to be built during 2014/15.

 

None of the above would have been possible without the tremendous support and guidance of the officers of the Ingrebourne Valley Project, for which we are truly grateful.

 

However, that project is due to come to an end in August 2014 and the Friends Group must now look to move forward.  We have ambitious ideas to develop, particularly with regards to a permanent memorial to commemorate the role of the site in both the First and Second World Wars. The active support and enthusiasm of the Members will be crucial in helping the Group achieve its goals in the coming year, as we put into place our plans to host shows and events, continue with the work parties and develop our partnership with Essex Wildlife Trust and Havering Council.

 

The coming year will see significant changes to The Valley with work commencing on the long anticipated Visitor Centre at Squadrons Approach and the possible landfill extension at Ingrebourne Hill.  We look forward to seeing as many people as possible joining us to contribute to what promises to be another very busy and important year.

 

Dave Cook

Chairman

Friends of Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park