Friends of Handsworth Park
Chair's Annual Reports
Every year the range of activities in the park expands. This year has been especially exceptional.
We now have the Sun Guardian, our much loved Big Sleuth Bear, who stands watching over our new and lovely community sensory garden. The garden is already maturing beautifully, full of herbs, fruit, vegetables and flowers ready to encourage people to grow plants to eat and enjoy.
Our thanks must go to Mat Barber, artist for the Sun Guardian and to Eleanor Hoad, gardener and community artist as well as Lizzie Jordan who has managed the garden project and organised both the family fun day in July and the Halloween event in October.
The project has been made possible through funding from the Veolia Environmental Trust Landfill Community Fund, Tesco Bags of Help and Birmingham City Council. Our thanks go to them for support. We are fundraising for entrance archways and fencing to be designed by Tim Tolkein. Well done and thank you to everyone involved, from all of us who love the park.
All over the park there have been improvements to planting and maintenance since the arrival of our new Head Gardener, George McAverey and we continue to enjoy the strong support of Lee Southall, District Parks Manager.
The Well Being Centre continues to be a great asset to the life of the park. A wide range of physical activities take place inside the centre and outside in the park including; cycling, zumba, rowing, Tai Chi, swimming, the gym, badminton, basketball,running, football and outdoor fitness activities every Sunday for children and young people. Thank you to Active Parks and Park Lives for their support.
There are two new art installations gracing the park. “Journey” by Luke Perry and “Pyramid Power” by Pauline Bailey. The Arts Trail is organised by Handsworth Creative and funding by the Arts Council. One of the pieces, “The Anchor”, from the first Arts Trail is now in the community garden.
The Boathouse Cafe continues to serve drinks and light meals and all the main events this year; Simmerdown, Vaisakhi, Family Fun Day, Women’s Try-Athlon, Handsworth Park 10k Fun Run and the Malcolm Marshall Cricket Day were all very successful and well attended.
The Handsworth Cricket Club continues to support three teams at various levels and a youth training programme. The sudden, sad death of Sted Wallen came as a great shock. I attended his funeral which was a very fitting tribute and celebration of his work in Handsworth and also his tremendous input in supporting cricket in the West Indies.
In conclusion I once again have to thank everyone who works for our park, all of our committee and again specially Tonia and Rachel.
As a place for the whole community to enjoy together our park cannot be beaten.
The vision of having a community garden in the park is coming to fruition as significant funding has been secured from the Veolia Environment Trust and Tesco’s Bag for Life Fund. The two grants total over £25,000 which is enough to complete the project. The project includes support for volunteers, school children and other groups such as the RSPB, Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust and the Birmingham and District Beekeepers’ Association.
After the initial planting specific sessions will be organised for volunteers to maintain the garden. Keen volunteers will be signposted to South and City College or Adult Education.
The Tesco funding is for a minimum of £8,000 but shoppers’ votes could get us more. Voting takes place in store from 31st October to 13th November. There is still time to support us by voting.
A new arts project in the park, ‘Handsworth Revolutions’ organised a series of activities including the making of a spring egg sculpture and craft workshop, an all about trees nature walk with the rangers, a sonic mapping sound installation at the Band stand, a bat spotting evening and a delightful lantern making and lantern parade around the lake from the Boathouse Cafe which provided well received refreshments.
Fitness activities in the park went well with over 100 children and families attending the multi sports activities on Sunday afternoons. There has been women’s cycling for learners, walking football and free badminton and tennis sessions for women and children provided by the WellBeing Centre.
Events in the park during the year included ‘Jamaican Independence Day’, a commercially run fair, Vaisakhi, the Malcolm Marshal Cricket Day and the Pete Hayes Handsworth 10k run. It is hoped that Simmerdown will return next year.
There is a proposal for a second arts trail in the park in 2017 organised by a group called ‘Handsworth Creative’. It is hoped that some of the sculptures will be permanent.
Sadly we have learned that the long anticipated refurbishment of the Wellbeing Centre will not be taking place. Both pools remain open and a new sauna is being installed.
Handsworth Cricket Club’s third team won their league. Congratulations to them. The first team finished in the middle of their table and the second team were in the bottom half of theirs. Lots of people came to watch the home matches and there is now a sign at the Hinstock Road entrance gate with details of match fixtures.
In the new year we can look forward to exciting developments and I must thanks again all our committee members but especially Tonia, Rachel, John and Dean for their input and enthusiasm.
The committee continues to get great support from Lee Southall and the parks staff are maintaining the park as a beautiful place to meet, relax, enjoy, exercise and keep connected.
Graham Winfield - Chair
Sonia Hyman - Vice Chair
Tonia Clark - Treasurer
Rachel Chiu - Secretary
From the Wikipedia page:
IN 1994 A GROUP OF LOCAL PEOPLE BEGAN TO CAMPAIGN AGAINST A PLAN TO BUILD ON THE SITE OF THE OLD SWIMMING POOL, DEMOLITION OF ONE OF THE LAST 'SONS OF REST' BUILDING IN THE CITY - MOST OTHERS BEING ALREADY DEMOLISHED WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE ONE IN CANNON HILL PARK - AND THE SALE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE VICTORIA JUBILEE ALLOTMENTS SITE NEXT TO THE PARK. ORIGINALLY CALLED 'SAVE HANDSWORTH PARK', THE GROUP RENAMED ITSELF THE 'HANDSWORTH PARK ASSOCIATION', WHEN IT BECAME CLEAR THAT THE PARK WAS TO BE IMPROVED AND CARED FOR. FROM THEN ON MEMBERS OF THIS GROUP WORKED IN CONSULTATION WITH THE CITY COUNCIL'S LANDSCAPE PRACTICE GROUP ON PLANS FOR THE RESTORATION OF HANDSWORTH PARK. THE OBJECTIVES OF THE ASSOCIATION ARE: A) TO PRESERVE HANDSWORTH PARK FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY LOCALLY AND IN THE SURROUNDING AREA. (B) TO PROMOTE THE EDUCATIONAL USE OF THE PARK. C) TO ENCOURAGE A GENERAL APPRECIATION OF THE HISTORY, FLORA AND WILDLIFE OF THE PARK.
THOUGH HANDSWORTH PARK HAD NEVER BEEN FORGOTTEN BY LOCALS DESPAIRING AT ITS STATE, SUCH STATEMENTS SIGNALLED A MUCH WIDER AWARENESS OF HANDSWORTH PARK AMID A NATIONAL REVIVAL OF SENSIBILITIES ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF GREEN SPACE IN CITIES THAT WOULD END DECADES OF NEGLECT, WHOSE CONSEQUENCES IN DERELICTION, VANDALISM AND CRIME WAS LAZILY AND HABITUALLY ATTRIBUTED TO THE FECKLESSNESS OF THE NEGLECTED. THE VALUE OF PARKS IN CITIES WAS ONCE AGAIN ACKNOWLEDGED BY POLITICIANS. AMID THE SLOW BURNING SOCIAL FRAGMENTATION OF BRITAIN'S POST-INDUSTRIAL MIDLANDS, HANDSWORTH PARK, WITH OTHER PARKS ACROSS THE CITY, WAS BEING PLACED ON A PAR WITH LOCAL HOUSING, EDUCATION, HEALTH AND POLICING AS PART OF WHAT MADE THE AREA A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE MIGHT ACTUALLY DESIRE TO LIVE AND WORK.
Save Handsworth Park group:
Dick Pratt was our first Chair, John Richfield was our second Chair, and Liz England our third.
Liz died a few years ago. Her wooden bench overlooks the pond near the boathouse.
Handsworth Park Association:
Friends of Handsworth Park:
Graham Winfield is our Chair.
Other members of the committee are Sonia Hyman (Vice Chair), Tonia Clark (Treasurer), Rachel Chiu (Secretary), Frank James, Theo Daniels, Blanche Singh, Rose Blair, John Hayes.