The day at Richmond Park started at the Holly Lodge Centre, took a stroll to nearby Two Storm Wood then retired to Pembroke Lodge for a garden visit and lunch, followed by the jewel of Isabella Plantation. Along the way we celebrated and reminisced Simon Richard’s achievements here, at Richmond Park, in his role as Park Manager. After some 25 years he shortly moves into theoretical retirement mode.
Over 40 Guild members were greeted by Mike Fitt and Simon Richards who gave an outline of Richmond Park, noting that this timeless and historic landscape is still seeing important incremental changes – particularly after having taken such a “bashing” during the two years of the covid pandemic.
Anna King, Holly Lodge Centre Manager, gave a tour of the facilities and how it had developed in the early 1990’s – Mike Fitt and Bill Cathcart, were there to see how what they started had blossomed into a facility providing essential sensory and hands-on experience for people of many different abilities. Pat Ealey, who was its project manager for over 20 years starting back in 1994 was there to explain some of the history too.
Simon led a tour across the parkland to the Two Storm Wood followed by a visit to Pembroke Lodge were Jo Scrivener (Assistant Park Manager) and three apprentices shared their knowledge. The Belvedere, constructed by the Hearsum Family, provided the perfect place for a delicious buffet lunch provided by the catering team at Pembroke.
Simon was presented with honourable tributes from Mike Fitt, Pat Ealey, Ron Crompton, former chair of the Friends of Richmond Park and Colin Muid, chair of the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks – as Simon, like Mike, had also managed Bushy Park during part of his tenure. A lovely message from Princess Alexandra thanked Simon for his help and diligence in park matters.
Out and about in Richmond Park
On behalf of the Guild and Richmond Park staff, Mike presented Simon with an oak framed, historic map of the park. Jo gave Simon’s wife Jane, with a wonderful floral bouquet made of flowers from the Isabella Plantation.
There was an opportunity to welcome and convey good wishes to Paul Richards who has inherited the title and role. After lunch the weather wasn’t so kind, but the brave carried to catch the Isabella Plantation ‘Rhodo show’ with Jo Scrivener and then finally on to Broomfield Hill.
Overall, a super Guild day out!
(With thanks to Malcolm Childs, for his dedicated bus-driving and timings).