Friends of eaton park

Friends of Eaton Park

Friends of Eaton Park is a community group that aims to help Eaton Park thrive. It is open to anyone who loves Eaton Park and wants to help. We work with the park’s many user groups, Norwich City Council and others to promote the park and the good things that go on here. We organise heritage, wildlife, gardening and schools activities and raise funds for these and for things such as benches and ping pong tables for the park. We raise the profile of the park and the good things that go on here, and we offer sociable and enjoyable ways for people to get involved.

Friends of Eaton Park – edited highlights

  • 2007: Constitution adopted. Friday Health Walks begin.
  • 2008: Thousands of local people attend an Open Day celebrating the park’s 80th anniversary. Friends website set up. 50 people attend a moth hunt at the bandstand. BBC Breathing Spaces grant pays for a wildlife audit from of the park by Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Successful lobbying for bike racks in the park.
  • 2009: Bulb planting and first litter picking. A park user survey highlights the need for improved information on what goes on in the park. A second notice board is installed. The Friends take on looking after the bandstand flowerbeds.
  • 2010: Facebook and Twitter set up. 50 people attend a talk by Andy Anderson on the park. Eaton Park takes part in Heritage Open Days.
  • 2011:The Friends win Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership’s ‘Community Biodiversity Award’. Recycled tubs planted up and installed in the Train Station and Community Centre.
  • 2012: Darren Leader Studio designs the Friends a logo and leaflet. Fundraising activities are organised to coincide with summer band days.
  • 2013: Norwich City Council offers the Friends a room as a base in the rotunda. Audit and cleaning of park benches. Two outdoor ping pong tables and new wooden bench installed. Six fruit trees planted as part of John Lewis anniversary celebrations.
  • 2014: Grants from East of England Coop, Norfolk Community Foundation and Active Norfolk. Tuesday morning ‘Ground Force’ sessions established. Meadow development begins in earnest. Three new wooden benches paid and installed beside the boat pond.
  • 1407 Green Flag award
  • 2015 New website launched. Links established with Bluebell Primary School.  Eight bird boxes and two bat boxes installed on trees near the meadow. Biodiversity Plan written and signed off with Norwich City Council officers. 200 young trees planted to reinforce the hedge along the South Park Avenue edge of the pitch and putt.
  • 2016 Spring plant sales prove popular. Re-planting of the bandstand flower beds and lavenders beside the boat pond. Way-marked running track opens. The Café opens under new management – the Friends help with recruitment. Three new benches designed and made by Andrew Smith installed beside the model railway. Partnerships with Bluebell School and Heritage Open Days developing well. Goundwork done for rooftop tours to start in 2017. Over 800 people attend the Friends’ first carol concert, organised with Eaton Park Café and Norwich Community Choir.
  • 2017 Significant expansion of schools programme as two local schools – Bluebell School and Clare School take part in year-round arts, planting and nature activities. Over 100 people come on our first year of rooftop heritage tours. Website updated and Facebook (3378) and Twitter (2084) thriving. Good year for fundraising with increase in individual donations and a magnificent £454 from Waitrose’ green tokens scheme. Investment in more and better tools and in litter pickers. Events include a Tree Walk, Butterfly Day, our first Fungus Day and two tours as part of Heritage Open Days. Planting of new avenue of walnut trees.
  • 2018 New partnership with Good Gym sees running volunteers visit the park four times a year. Grant obtained for RHS project with Clare School to create two large new herb beds for the café garden. Children from the school work with Friends’ volunteers to build and plant up the raised beds. Fundraising plant and book sales held. Tree walk and rooftop tours are both popular. Fungus Day attracts drop-in audience of 150 people of all ages. Eaton Park’s 90th birthday celebrated with many cakes and a specially commissioned cake cut by Andy Anderson, park historian, and Courtney one of the park’s youngest users. Gardeners’ group continues to meet monthly and is celebrated by a plaque set on a re-cycled park marker stone. New planting incorporates ‘landing zone’ for children jumping down from the bandstand. Friends feed into new ten year management plan for Bluebell Wood and, with Norwich Fringe and TCV, undertake simple woodland management tasks here and in North Park Woods. Schools group runs sessions with Bluebell and Clare Schools. Two new benches installed including one to marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 with a bench beside the pitch and putt ‘trench’, which was used for training new recruits. Petanque terrain complete with accompanying benches, bike stands and notice board is opened with a celebration attended by the Mayor.
  • 2019 was our busiest year yet for events. We held a day of rooftop tours, two heritage walks, Apple, Butterfly and Fungus Days (the latter uncovering over two dozen different types of fungus in the park), a Great Get-Together family get together and a Christmas Concert, hosted with Eaton Park Café. The gardening group took part for the first time in the Growing Communities seed raising scheme. FOEP volunteers grew plants from seed for use in locations and for groups across Norwich. In return we received bulbs and many plants for the beds we look after in Eaton Park.  The Friends began to help with simple care of trees in the park and undertook bramble clearning in Bluebell Wood. Our schools group had a packed year working with pupils from Bluebell and Clare schools. Highlights were a ‘pleine-air’ drawing session inspired by the Impressionists, and a composting session. We consolidated partnerships with Norwich Fringe and  Good Gym, and four members attended a course to become group leaders for woodland working. The year also saw the sad death of honorary life member, Andy Anderson. Andy wrote the book The Captain and the Norwich Parks. The Friends installed a bench with the inscription: “For Andy Anderson who told the tale of Norwich’s great Parks”. 
  • 2020 was the year of COVID 19.  From March all events were cancelled, but the park became a lifeline for many, providing fresh air and space for people to excercise, meet and see other people. Gardening sessions took place in between lockdowns and the partnership with Growing Communities provided many new plants so that bandstand, pond and café garden beds all looked their best, especially during the summer.  Schools and Good Gym sessions were mostly cancelled but one by one, and in pairs, members of the Friends helped care for the park by picking up litter and reporting grafitti as it happened. As parks across the country reported litter and dog mess disasters, Eaton Park continued to feel cared for and clean. An emerging partnership with Cycle UK began to bare fruit. We obtained a grant of £1500 to invest in cycle development, a ‘glow-ride’ event took place just before lock down and the first community bike rides took place. Over the summer the Friends worked with community officers from Norwich City Council to ensure the future of Eaton Park Community Centre. Prompted by covid, the committee had resigned en masse. The Friends decided not to take on the community centre but our Chair stepped down to take on the role of Community Centre Chair and form a new committee, and FOEP’s vice chair stepped up to take on the role of Chair of the Friends. Close working between the centre and FOEP is ensured into the future. During the year Facebook posts regularly reached 7000+ with positive posts and beautiful photographs helping set the scene for the park as a focus for community and individual wellbeing during this difficult year.

 

Membership

It costs as little as £5 to join:

  • support our work helping Eaton Park thrive
  • 5 newsletters a year
  • opportunities to get involved through walks, events and volunteering (see Volunteering below)
  • discounted annual household membership of Norwich Parks Tennis (£20 instead of £35. Email karen@nationaltennis.org.uk for details).
  • 10% off in Eaton Park Cafe on hot drinks and all foods on the menu, just not snacks

Click here for a membership form.

Volunteer

The Friends get involved in Eaton Park in many different ways. To find out more or to talk about possibilities email info@friendsofeatonpark.co.uk

Gardening Group
First, and some third Thursdays every month,10am to midday, meet at the Rotunda
Active, sociable sessions helping with ‘icing on the cake’ tasks to compliment the work done by the Norwich Norse (Environmental) Ltd.  We look after the bandstand flower beds, a small orchard, flower beds beside the boat and lily ponds, and raised herb beds in the Café garden. We also do occasional dead-heading in the rose garden.

Ground Force

Schools Group
School sessions, four –  April to September, planning meetings, two
Each year we work closely with one class from Bluebell School, litterpicking, doing sessions on art and nature, and sharing a celebration with games and a picnic at the end of the summer. We work alongside the class teacher and teaching assistants, and really get to know them and the children. It’s a great chance to share our love of the park with the children and to support their classroom work with learning activities in our glorious park.

Woodlands and meadows group
Approximately three five-hour sessions, drop in
Each year we work with Norwich Fringe to schedule around three sessions, some working with TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) or the Fringe. Our woodland work includes (coppicing, and thinning – either of smaller trees using a tree-popper, or supporting trained workers using chainsaws, and a chipper), planting whips, and clearing brambles to encourage wild flowers. In the meadow we use mattocks to break up the surface to encourage new flowers to grow, and we collect seeds for and plant new wildflowers.

Heritage and wildlife activities
We have developed a summer rooftop tour which always attracts a lot of interest. Volunteers lead a whistle-stop introduction to the park before time for photo-opps. We also work with experts on walks exploring the park’s trees, birds and moths.

Donate

Eaton Park petanque terraine
In summer 2018 we completed our biggest fundraising project so far, the installation of a petanque terrain complete with new bike stands and benches. Funding came from a generous individual donation from one of our members, and a grant from Sport England.

Benches
Historically seating in the park has concentrated in the park’s architectural central points – the bandstand, rose garden, lily pond and original bowling greens. The park’s lack of benches reflects its beginnings in the 20th century. Its first years (the site was bought in 1904 but didn’t open until 1928) took in two world wars, the Great depression and the recession of the 1970s. At over 80 acres, large swathes of the park are entirely without benches.

Benches encourage people to use the park differently; for reading, meeting with friends, picnics etc. For less mobile visitors, benches are the resting points that make a walk in the park a possibility.

Since 2014 we have raised funds and paid for fifteen new benches including three specially commissioned benches near the model railway. We have also promoted the possibility of individual donations of benches and this has led to a further thirteen benches being installed.

Activities
We also raise funds to support our various activities; to buy gardening tools, plants and bulbs; to pay for experts to lead walks and activities; for bird and bat boxes, and to sustain this website and other publicity promoting the park and good things that go on here.

If you would like to make a donation please email info@friendsofeatonpark.co.uk. There are various options and we’ll be happy to talk through ideas with you.

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