New Year Message

17th January 2024

Happy New Year to you all, from your Committee for Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park! We are looking forward to another year of maintenance and improvement, but also to fun events, and opportunities to see the park in different ways through all seasons.

Here are some reflections about the past year.

All our actions up to now were overseen by our friend and chair, Kathryn Stuart. When she died in November it was a terrible shock to many, both in our knowledge of her as a friend to the park, and on a personal level. Her exuberance, sense of fun, and above all her sense of community were extraordinary, and we loved her. It is the intention of ourselves and Rushmoor Council to place a fitting memorial in the park as soon as we can, and we will continue with the work she started. As the new chair of the group, I am aware that I have no hope of filling such enormous shoes, but will do my best.

Much of our success can be seen in terms of what we have been able to prevent — things which may not be obvious, but which would have been extremely obvious had they been allowed to happen. However, we are very happy that the whole park is available to the community, now that Esso has completed their work, and it is to be hoped that the cycle path will not remain in its current state: we will continue to raise this, and other outstanding matters — such as the drainage, lighting, already-dead replacement trees, and the potholes in Farnborough Road car park — with Rushmoor, and we will try to ascertain what is to happen about the pond. Following the recent heavy rain the pond is looking very healthy, but we are aware that it will need work.

All our regular activities have continued this year: our Work Parties, and our Amblers. The Work Parties have removed non-native species and made the park seem clearer and safer, and have also started to plant bulbs that will make the park even more beautiful in the spring. The dates of these regular events can be found on the website. Work Parties are led by a representative from Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, and there is always a first-aider present. We are extremely grateful to Andy, Steve and Eddie for their guidance and attention to our requests for help, and to our own designated first aiders, Judith and Donna. Our thanks go also to everyone who has attended one or more work parties this year.

The Amblers have continued, with a core group of attendees that has grown in number. There are about eight who regularly attend, and a further eight who dip in and out and whom we are always pleased to welcome. All are welcome! Friendships have formed, old ties have been renewed, and some of us now attend Fleet Film together. We are still small acorns, but we are growing: do come along to our next Amble, which will meet in the Farnborough Road car park at 2 pm on January 17th. We lost a dear member, Roger, in September, and attended his lovely funeral: such a character, such a life! We all learned something from him, and loved his twinkly spirit.

The outstanding events for 2023 were the Easter Egg Hunt and ‘Where’s Rudolph?’ — a night time trail for children, of which one of the approximately 100 participants said, ‘This is the best thing ever!’ The Big Green Lunch was a pleasant event also, rather more sedate but nevertheless memorable — we were so fortunate to have the pleasure of ukelele music from our local group. Held under the trees in the glade, it was supported by Friends of the Earth and Blackwater Valley, and even a local councillor. This year, 2024, we hope to run similar events, so do watch this space for further details about them all.

The Facebook Page has started to be contributed to more often, which is a joy. Please feel free to post pictures of fun and interesting times and things of beauty that you experience and find in the park. And please remember that our group has no political remit whatsoever, and as such we cannot post anything in support of any of the political parties. All posts that celebrate our wonderful park will be approved by Admin.

Thank you to all those of you who have supported us this year in happy times and sad, who love the park and use it with respect and care. We are looking forward positively to carrying on the work we have started, to meeting more of you, and to increasing the numbers of people who become familiar with our beautiful green space, Queen Elizabeth Park.

Best wishes to you all,

Sue Runciman

Chair of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park Committee