Despite it being a grey, rainy Saturday evening, May 12 saw over 125 people packed into The Skylark Café to launch the Friends of Wandsworth Common.
They heard Co-Chairs Julia Bott and Richard Fox, residents of the Common for 30 years and members of the MAC since 2015, present their vision for the Friends (see Friends Constitution), and some of the ideas that had been discussed by the Friends working group and the MAC Enhancement Sub-committee before it. Most greenspaces in London now have a Friends group; those that do tend to be better protected from the pressures of overuse and under funding.
Special guests included Emma Passmore, whose mother, Shirley Passmore (who sadly died a year ago), is remembered affectionately by many current and former MAC members for her extensive knowledge and dedication to the conservation and enhancement of the Common over many years.
Other guests included Inspector Stephen Biggs, Head of the Parks and Events Police; representatives of Enable LC, who manage the Common for Wandsworth Borough Council; a number of councillors, both old and new; Anne Davies from the swan sanctuary; and Sarah Garnett, Manager of NatureScope, who the Friends have formed a strong alliance with.
Julia and Richard were formally voted in, as was George Meakin (MAC Chairman), as the Friends Treasurer. There is space for eight more committee members and Julia and Richard strongly encourage people to come forward to share in the running of the organisation at an exciting time for the Common.
Enthusiastic individuals with a love of the Common and skills in admin, communication, IT, fund raising, project and event planning, are especially needed. Those, however, who might simply wish to help bag up swan and duck food, or be co-opted for a specific task, are also very welcome.
Activities that the Friends are considering include: regular litter picks, themed walks, greater use of the bowling green, social events and picnics in July and September. Projects under consideration include: nature and history interpretation boards and leaflets, an oral history of the Common, restoration of the drinking fountain, and many others which people were asked to give opinions on. These will be discussed with Enable in conjunction with the Management and Maintenance Plan currently being formulated.
Thanks were extended to the event sponsors John D Wood and Skylark, Charles and Aviva Walton, who had set the MAC on the road to increased outreach back in 2013, culminating in the Friends formation, Colin Cooper of SWLEN who had been of great general support and helped with the Friends Constitution, Mat Pemberton who has created a highly praised and functional website, and contributing photographers Sharon O’Neill, Lewis More O’Ferrall and others.
Members interested in getting involved, please e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org with how you would like to help or contribute. Prospective committee members will be invited to a meeting in the early summer to become officers with specific roles. An AGM will be held in Spring 2019.