This week we had the honour of a visit from our Assistant Governor Keith Harbage, and also had the pleasure of inducting two new members into the club, Robert Spishak and Caroline Noh.
We then had an informative talk from Julia Wilson, who has recently retired as Chair of the Friends of Roundhay Park, after six years energetic service.
Friends of Roundhay Park
Julia reminded us that Roundhay Park, at 700 acres, is one of the biggest urban parks in Europe, and is treasured not just by local residents but by people from far and wide. In the early 90s the park was showing signs of neglect, and a group of local Leeds residents decided to get involved, to create an organisation that would bring together lovers of the park to work to preserve and enhance it. Thus the charitable organisation Friends of Roundhay Park was born in 1994, and over the years since then it has been extraordinarily effective in working with the local authority, local councillors and the parks department.
They have acted as a pressure group in fending off the more dubious local authority proposals, such as turning the Mansion into council offices, or siting the children's playground in Canal Gardens, instead diverting it to its present site on the soldiers’ field; they have initiated and supported developments such as the refurbished tennis courts, the geology trail, and the tree trail, and they are currently working on a proposal to create an outdoor gym.
Julia in a previous life set up and ran a market research company, which must have been of assistance in the Friends’ important work in putting together successful funding bids.
The Friends are also actively involved in hands on work such as bulb planting, weeding, litter picking, ‘working parties’, which Julia told us translates into getting extremely muddy, and doing such things as going out by boat into the upper lake to hack down the vegetation to reveal the island.
The Friends has an excellent website packed with information which is well worth looking at. The website lists the benefits obtainable by joining the organisation as a supporter.
The Friends of Roundhay Park are clearly a very effective group, with an outlook very much in tune with the objects of Rotary, and an admirable facility for generating imaginative projects and seeing them through to completion. Thank you, Julia, for an inspiring talk.