Newsletter 2

Welcome to the second newsletter from the Friends of Wickford Memorial Park
We are a constituted group of volunteers working with Basildon Council Parks and Countryside Manager and the Park Manager to safeguard and improve the park.

Message from our Chair Kim Oakes
I hope everyone is safe and well. We will be back in the Memorial Park once it is safe. We made such a good start to our ‘Friends’ group up until lockdown but I am sure as soon as Basildon Council allow us to return we will be back with enthusiasm and building on our work. I am sure it will give us all such a boost.
I ventured out to the park this weekend and took some photos. Our ‘whips’ from the Woodland Trust are doing very well. We have had some casualties, but I think that was to be expected.
The Home Front garden has lots of weeds and needs to be tackled. On a positive note Tracey noticed that there were three magnolia trees hidden in the middle section.
This newsletter is to keep the momentum going and to have something to aim for once we get the go ahead from the council.

News in a Nutshell

  • The gardening tools purchased on our behalf by Basildon Council have arrived and are in storage waiting for us to be able to resume gardening.
  • The high viz jackets have been delivered. They are currently in storage but as soon as possible they will be moved to the lock up with the tools.
  • The park has been a wonderful benefit to the residents of Wickford during lockdown. It has been busier than ever with families, walkers, dog walkers, runners and cyclists. Unfortunately this has resulted in a big increase in rubbish and broken glass. Many thanks go to the people who have been collecting the rubbish as they exercise.
  • Sadly two memorial Davidia trees have been vandalised. The park manager is aware and we are hoping the trees will be replaced.
  • The Whips (rooted cuttings) of assorted native trees that were planted before lock down were doing well but quite a few have died as so dry.
  • Our request for a grant from the Essex Community Foundation to pay for a carved figure for the wild flower garden was not successful. The Community Initiative Fund 2020 has opened, so the committee will be discussing projects that might be considered suitable, including the carved figure. (More information on page 6) If you have any suggestions please let us know.
  • Our web page is still at the planning stage but we are hoping to have it up and running very soon.

Civilian Heroes Garden Update from Tracy Render

Just before restrictions were put in place Kim and I took the opportunity to create edged borders to the trees in the garden ready for planting bulbs. We took delivery of 2000 snow drops but sadly lockdown started so I have them potted up at home and we hope to set up a working party and have a Snow Drop Plant in the autumn. The snow drop is the symbol of hope so is apt in these difficult times.

We have spoken about an annual snowdrop plant and this would be a way to remember both the heroes of the past and of recent times and reflect on those people that have sadly lost their lives. We would like to combine Chionodoxa’s a pale blue, delicate sweet flowers with the snowdrops so we have a display of blue and white during February and March.

Margaret Clarke and I are creating a planting and maintenance plan for our group to follow for the coming year.

As there are already some very attractive shrubs in the central bed we have agreed that for the time being weed control should be our priority along with additional weed control and hedge trimming provided by the council.

The existing shrubs and flowers will be maintained this year with the focus on identifying these shrubs and plants and also suitable areas they could be relocated to if necessary. Then as Autumn approaches the plan is to prepare this bed for renovation and move any shrubs if necessary.

Recently we discovered three magnolias within the flower bed so the lockdown has its advantages of being patient and seeing what pops up. These will be magnificent when they mature and can be the focus of future planting schemes.

The raised bed has been a point of discussion at the planning meetings as to whether we should use this area for depicting local celebrations. For this summer the council have tidied up and replanted it with geraniums and lobelia together with some rose bushes and a new tree in the centre bed so we can now think about ideas for winter planting.

The Civilian Heroes Garden can be found between the childrens’ play area and the tennis courts. If you would like to join the gardening group in the Civilian Heroes garden we would welcome you along. Hope this summary gives you a focus for any work that needs to be done.

Recent Events
We don’t have any recent events to report because like everything else during lockdown we have not been able to meet.

Future Planned Projects
As soon as possible we will put together a programme of events. If members have suggestions please let us know.

Community Initiative Fund (CIF) 2020 – NOW OPEN
A new fund was launched by Essex County Council (ECC) on 1 April 2019 and will be administered by the Essex Association of Local Councils (EALC) over a two year period. This new fund includes various community grant schemes that have been funded by Essex County Council. This includes:
• the existing CIF
• Local Service Fund
• Local Connections Fund
• Cultural Development Grant
For the CIF, grants of up to £10,000 may be awarded for either a Capital or Revenue (not core costs) project. One off grant awards will be made in October 2020.
Micro-grants of up to £500 are also available throughout the year and awarded once a month. This fund excludes projects that deliver outside the administrative area of Essex County Council.

The mission of the Friends of Wickford Memorial Park is to
• enhance and protect the Memorial Park
• ensure that all visitors have a pleasant experience
• promote community spirit in Wickford
• encourage good health and wellbeing for the volunteers.
• ensure the park is open and accessible to all.

We have a small committee and we have lots of ideas for projects for the park and we hope eventually to hold events for the public in the park. The committee are looking at ways to finance future ideas and we will be looking at applying for grants and support from local organisations. Please let us know if you can point us in the direction of grants and funding.

If you have any comments or suggestions please post on our Facebook page, or send us a message.

Thanks go to
Basildon Borough Council Park staff for their enthusiastic support and help setting up the Friends group.