Since being elected as the Chair in June, 2016, time seems to have flown by and we find ourselves faced with a slightly belated Annual General Meeting on 3rd August.
First and foremost, I need to pay tribute to the Committee without whom, this organisation would not function. We meet religiously on the first Thursday of each month and the “Classroom” at the Albyns Depot in the Park can be a daunting prospect in January and February when it’s cold, wet and just downright miserable at 7pm in the evening!
But these meetings are just the place where our deliberations start or finish or are just reviewed to see how we are progressing. The greatest achievement last year in July was when we attended the Public Inquiry at the Town Hall to oppose the proposed “inert waste” landfill on the piece of land opposite Ingrebourne Hill. I believe our contribution was substantial enough to encourage the residing Inspector to deliver a judgement of “appeal refused” to send Ingrebourne Valley Ltd. packing. Thanks also to all of the local ward Councillors in attendance at the inquiry that made a significant contribution.
Two other major events were the cycle maintenance training which we ran for six sessions at the Albyns Council Depot and the September “fun day” in conjunction with Essex Wildlife Trust.
As the Country Park is on a designated National Cycle Network (route 136), we had been awarded some cycling funding from Transport for London and decided to use it for this training. The hope being that it would attract local cyclists who could learn how to look after their own bikes and make them safe before venturing out. It was very popular and well attended.
The joint venture with EWT went reasonably well considering the lateness of the organisation but during the course of this year, we have been working closely with them. It will now take the form of a “Summer Fair” on Sunday, 20th August 2017 from 10.30am to 4pm and the Friends Group are responsible for a Dog Show, a Welly Wanging Competition and a Tombola at this event which we hope will be well attended.
There is so much that goes on in the Park and Valley and the Friends Group and its members perform some outstanding work at their regular “work parties”. These occur not only at weekends but also during the week and are attended whatever the weather and in the winter when it’s both wet and cold. Their perseverance is admirable. Our members also act as volunteers for Essex Wildlife Trust in all sorts of roles which I am sure is very much welcomed by EWT.
At this stage, a mention needs to be made of our Park Rangers team. The Friends Group work closely with them and in times of almost constant cuts to Council budgets, the assistance we give goes a considerable way to making Hornchurch Country Park the best in Havering if not East London. This was recognised last year and resulted in an award being presented by a London wide body.
The Friends of Ingrebourne Valley & Hornchurch Country Park will continue to strive to keep the area at the forefront in local people’s minds when deciding to go out and see nature at its rawest. We look forward to the rest of this year and next in the hope that we can continue our working relationship with Essex Wildlife Trust and Havering Council and make the Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park even better in the eyes of the public.
Chair, Friends of Ingrebourne Valley & Hornchurch Country Park