Newsletter 3

Welcome to the Friends of Wickford Memorial Park Autumn newsletter September 2020

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

Welcome back to our Autumn Newsletter and we hope that you are enjoying the Memorial Park.  The park is such a precious asset and lots of people relied on the sanctuary and open spaces during lockdown.  We saw many groups in the park, birthdays, baby showers, keep fit groups, picnics, dog walkers and many more. We want to enhance the experience for the benefit of the residents.  There are lots of projects planned over the next six months:  replanting the Home Garden, Snowdrop planting, painting the gates, Pumpkin competition. Please feel free to join our work parties and keep an eye on new activities.

News in a Nutshell

  • As you know the Covid 19 virus meant that we were not allowed to work in the park but Basildon Borough Council have now allowed the Friends to resume their activities.
  • We are very pleased to say that we now have 235 members and rising and have welcomed several new volunteers to our garden groups. Please come along and join in any events you see advertised.
  • The Council are arranging for the park gates at the Mount Road entrance to be replaced in the near future.

Many of you will have seen the wild flowers in the park. They have now almost finished blooming for this year but so many of the people who saw them said how pretty they were and how good for the insects and birds. The Friends did a little maintenance work but the ground was prepared, the seeds provided and sown by Council workers. The wildflowers in the park and elsewhere in the Borough are part of a 3 year project so we look forward to seeing even more last year. The fence and stump seats were also provided by the Council

The park now has 3 bird boxes which were made by Margaret Clarke’s husband and sponsored by members of the group. We are hoping they will be put up on suitable trees in time for nesting birds in the Spring.

Recent Events

  • Gardening groups have continued to tackle the weeds in the Civilian Heroes Garden. The garden has now been sprayed to remove the brambles and more difficult weeds and will be replanted in the coming weeks.
  • Margaret Clark and Kim Oakes visited Hyde Hall for planting inspiration for this garden and Margaret has written this account
  • Yesterday, Kim and I went to visit the stunning gardens of Hyde Hall. A glorious day greeted us there and the early morning need for jumpers soon disappeared. The purpose of our visit-to gather inspiration for plants in our Civilian Garden. Well, we had to rein ourselves in a bit because their plants and planting schemes are wonderful! Every direction we turned beheld another fantastic display.
  • Now, we are no RHS experts, but our hopes going forward are:
    – to whittle down our long list of ‘candidates’
    – examine their horticultural names, heights, colours and needs
    – note the existing gaps
    – decide on quantities
    Definitely a work in progress!
  • The park gates and railings have become rather neglected and overgrown with weeds lately.  The entrance at Runwell Road was tackled a while back but a group made good headway tidying up the gates at the Rettendon View entrance:

High Street Clean Up

A group of our volunteers helped out at the High Street Clean at the end of July. This event was organised by the Duncan English and the Wombles and was very well attended. The High Street certainly looked much improved after a few hours hard work.

As we have had so little rain various volunteers have been doing their best to keep vulnerable plants and trees watered. I am sure these plants are very grateful for this. Its sad to see plants die from lack of water and Council are providing a bowser to help with this in future.

New Projects
Please check on our facebook page for further information about future events

  • Pumpkin Competition
    If you are good at pumpkin carving please bring your pumpkin to the park on the afternoon of Friday the 30th October. There will be small prizes for children and adults and Huttons Café will be providing refreshments. Suitable costumes will be appreciated but not necessary. More information will be on our Facebook page nearer the time.
  • Environment Group
    We are very keen to start a group who will carry out a survey of the park and map, photograph and identify the trees. This group will also look at the birds, insects and wildlife. One of our committee members Geoff Whiter has kindly agreed to take the lead on this but if anyone is interested in joining him please let us know.
  • Painting the park railings
    All of the railings and gates are in need of painting. The Council are providing the equipment and materials and there are two working parties planned for the 5th and 12th September at 09.30. Anyone wanting to help would be very welcome but it would be helpful to know how many are coming so we can organise equipment so if possible please respond to Kim’s invitation on our Facebook or email to the address at the end of the newsletter.
  • Replanting the Civilian Heroes Garden
    When the planting scheme has been finalised the Council will order the plants for us and we will be asking for volunteers to come along and help with the planting. Date to be advised.
  • Planting Bulbs
    We already have snowdrop bulbs to be planted in the Autumn and are hoping to be planting native Bluebells at the same time. Dates to be advised.
  • Repainting the Crazy Golf
    The crazy golf near to Huttons Café is very popular with the children but is looking a bit worse for wear so we would like to repaint it and perhaps put in some plants and a bench. It would be much appreciated if one or more of our members would volunteer to take the lead on this project. Again the Council will provide some of the materials and are suggesting that they take out the hedges which have become very overgrown to create more space. To volunteer please either post on our facebook page or use the email at the foot of the page.

Bats Boxes
Bats are known to live in the park so we are hoping to buy some bat boxes to encourage them to roost.

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.

Get in touch!
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.