AGM report

2020 Friends AGM

The Friends AGM took place during the evening of 11th March at Wanstead Golf Club. Although attendance was low, probably due to the Covid-19 situation, those who braved the chill weather were treated to an evening of interesting presentations.

This year’s AGM was a special occasion as it marked the final AGM of John Meehan’s Chairmanship.
John has carried out the role for four years and believed it was the right time to hand over to a new face. The Committee are delighted that John is staying on as a Member, given the wise and invaluable guidance he has provided as Chairman. Our thanks to him for his major contribution.

The main formality on the night was the election of Committee Members. Eight names from the current Committee had been proposed and these were duly seconded. The next Committee meeting will formalise the main post holders for the next year. These members will also act as Trustees for a further year.
This year, there are vacancies on the Committee for Members wishing to apply to be co-opted. If anyone wishes to join our current team, we will be delighted to hear from you.

The Treasurer’s Report for year ending 31.12.2019 showed a healthy cash balance of around £15,000. This is a £2,200 increase on 2018 and due mainly to income of nearly £3,000 from fundraising, membership and donations.  The Friends are anticipating expenditure in 2020 of some £6-8,000 on new signage for the park.

In his Chairman’s Report, John covered both the main issues from the previous twelve months, and also the highlights from his four years as Chairman. Please see main article – Chairman’s Valedictory ……

Following on, Nigel Francheschi gave a presentation on ‘Wanstead House – East London’s Lost Palace’.
Nigel spoke with infectious enthusiasm about the forthcoming large scale illustrated book written by Dr Hannah Armstrong which will be published for sale in 2022. The book will be in hardback format with 70 illustrations, including some exciting and rarely seen images which Nigel presented. The book will be published by Liverpool University Press on behalf of Historic England and financed solely from pre-orders.
Nigel advised that all Friends of Wanstead Parklands will receive an email from FWP later this year advertising the book and incorporating a link to the order page of Liverpool University Press website.
All Pre-orders will benefit from a substantial discount. This will be a great opportunity for Members to be part of this major publishing event at an amazing price.

The final presentation came from Geoff Sinclair who is Operations Manager for Epping Forest. Geoff paid tribute to previous Chairman, Dwight Wood, Richard Arnopp, Chairman John Meehan and the Wanstead Park Steering Group for getting the Parkland Plan to its current stage.

The Environment Agency report had become the catalyst to obtain up to £15million of City funding for the Plan which will act as matched funding for any HLF bid.

The Engineers report on the flood risk from the Lakes was still publicly unavailable. When it is processed, it will be analysed by the City Engineer, and action priorities identified. Detailed actions would then be worked up over the next six months.

Geoff explained he is using the Parkland Plan (PP) as a template to identify what Park work could be done in the interim period before work on the PP commences in 2024.

Public consultation supporting the PP had suggested that respondents favoured the retention of natural aspects to the Park. An opportunity had arisen for Geoff’s team to contribute to the establishment of a natural children’s’ Play area which they were now working on.

Geoff confirmed the signage project supported by The Friends was now progressing and a Cycle track was under discussion within the Steering Group.

Geoff talked enthusiastically about a potential Cattle grazing project within the Park. Grazing with longhorn cattle was already tried and tested within the Forest.
Cattle would be confined to a specific area through a recently developed GPS solution, so there was no need for fencing. Geoff was hoping to trial this later in the year.

Geoff pointed out that looking forward, additional Community/Volunteer help will be required which would also act to support any HLF bid.

Finally, Geoff confirmed that the Grotto Management Plan was still awaiting Committee approval.

Our thanks go to the excellent speakers and the Golf Club for once again providing a free venue for us to use.

John Sharpe