NatureFest in Manor Park
Nature is our thing
The Friends of Manor Park is a community group set up to protect and improve Manor Park. Nature and wildlife have been central to a lot of our volunteer work, from restoring wooded areas and the seasonal pond, planting wild-flowers and bulbs, to installing community bird-boxes and our new bird-feeding station.
Last year we ran Nature Day, which was a rather low-key event. We sowed wildflowers, did some general woodland maintenance and laid on a handful of nature activities for the cubs and local children. We had a pretty good turn-out.
….but this year….
This year we wanted to step it up a gear (or two), so we came up with a name – ‘NatureFest’ and the brief that we wanted a nature themed event, come celebration in the park. Our newest team member, Nausheen Arnold, put herself forward to organise it.
Local business backers
It wasn’t long before she was reporting back with some positive news about the growing and impressive event line-up. We wanted the event to be really good, so Fiona Sowell, who’s been with the group right from start, spoke with a handful of local businesses who said they’d bank-roll the event. Our main sponsor was Worcester Park Tiles, and we had also had financial support from Jazz Barbers, Dental Sense and Bruce Elliot.
All set to go
And so it was, after a several months of sweat and tears, (actually it was all very calm), we stood in the middle of the park on Saturday 18th May surrounded by a colourful assortment of gazebos sheltering a number of wildlife organisations, a nature crafting activity area and several food stalls (including a very posh looking coffee van), a massive green tractor courtesy of idverde the park contractor, various elegant birds of prey were lined up on perches, a hall full of reptiles, a very accomplished looking musical act, and a disco bouncy-castle. A team of wonderful helpers were at the ready (comprised of a lot of familiar faces – people who often volunteer their time).
A substantial crowd
The weather had been forecast to be chilly and overcast, but as luck would have it the day brightened up and was actually rather warm. So, before we knew it, the park started to fill and it wasn’t long before we had quite a substantial crowd milling about. The band played wonderfully, creating just the right atmosphere. We had a queue of people buying tokens for the reptile display and the bouncy castle. Children took part in a selection of crafting activities from making finger snakes to edible wild-bird treats. Our face painting artist transformed many a child into a zebra, ferocious lion or other wild creature.
Throughout the day we ran a programme of wildlife talks – from the nature in the park to hedgehogs. These talks were led by our friend Elliot Newton from conservation upstarts Citizen Zoo, who’s mission it is to re-wild our natural spaces (and us). He’s been instrumental in the conservation work we do in Manor Park – our go-to expert. Elliot also led a pond-dipping activity, which the children absolutely loved. And no one fell in.
The falconry displays were probably the high point of the day. At least two hundred people surrounded the flying arena each time, where a very interactive show took place. Owls and eagles swooping low over the heads of the children sitting on the grass.
Snakes, lizards and spiders
In the hall various snakes, lizards and some rather large spiders entertained the onlookers. I latterly saw a photo of a white snake wrapping itself around the neck of one of my daughter’s friends. She seemed far too relaxed.
The park was full of life
It was lovely seeing the park so busy. We’d kicked off just as the junior football league were finishing their trials, the bowls club was also having its open day (its busiest yet we’ve been told), and behind us in the rear sports field a cricket game went on all afternoon.
Friends of Manor Park
We had lots of visitors to the Friends of Manor Park gazebo, including some of our local councillors, Des Kay from Save the World Club (the people behind the Malden Manor Mosaic) dressed up as the Green Man, other Friends groups to many locals interested in our work to create a strategic master-plan for Manor Park. Our landscape architect was on hand to answer questions. The first major investment you’ll see in Manor Park will be a revamped playground – hopefully this side of Christmas.
A sudden downpour
Anyway, before we knew it the event was over and the stallholders were packing up. We were surprised how many people were still hanging around, however a very heavy downpour 15 minutes after we finished soon emptied the park.
A BIG thank-you
A big thank-you to everyone who showed their support by attending or helping in some way. We’ve had lots of great feedback, and it is our intention to put on an even bigger NatureFest next year, so watch this space.
Get involved with Friends of Manor Park
Do keep an eye out on what we’re up to – either check out our website, follow us on Facebook or just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org We’ve just kicked off our Friend for Life membership – so do drop us an email and we’ll send you details. We’ll put up a new form shortly – ‘just been a little busy of late :-).
Get involved in NatureFest 2020
If you or your organisation would like to get involved next year, then do drop us a line, we’d love to speak with you. email@example.com