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Hainault Forest Country Park is in the early stages of a £6m restoration project which will see it undergo a programme of work focusing on four key areas – investment in biodiversity, landscape and buildings, works to re-focus the popular children’s zoo and to improve the range of activities on offer for visitors.

Nature walk

On 9 December 2017 a group joined Francis Castro, Senior Ranger and Project Manager at Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure, for a guided winter stroll around Hainault Forest. In beautiful winter sunshine, over the course of two hours, they learned about the flora and fauna, as well as the restoration plans.

In January 2017, the HLF announced support of £4.5m, including development funding of £218,800, for Hainault Forest Country Park’s “Hainault Ancient Forest – a Landscape for the Future” project. The Council will also contribute £1.25m to the project with a further £250,000 from Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure. This brings total investment to £6m. When the project is complete, it is envisaged that Hainault Forest Country Park will be enabled to become financially self-sufficient, and the current Council subsidy will end.

Tree walk

Covering a total of 800 acres, Hainault Forest includes 250 acres of greenbelt, ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is the last fragment of a medieval Royal hunting forest established by Henry I that included Hatfield and Epping.

The forest is also pivotal for local and regional wildlife. To date, 158 species of bird have been recorded in the forest including turtle doves, bullfinches, and three species of woodpecker. There are also more than 940 species of invertebrates such as butterflies and dragonflies, 79 of which are nationally scarce.

Friends of Wanstead Parklands member Richard Arnopp, who went on the walk, said –

“Hainault Forest is important both as a haven for wildlife and a much-needed recreational space for Redbridge’s growing population. It is also a historic landscape with ancient trees, including many pollards, which bear witness to its long management as wood-pasture”.

Richard continued –

“Francis Castro (Vision RCL), the London Borough of Redbridge and the HLF are to be congratulated for this initiative. We hope that the “Hainault Ancient Forest” project will guarantee the future of this special place for many years to come”.

Camelot Path Hainault Forest Country Park is managed by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure on behalf of the London Borough of Redbridge.

 

 

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Reasons to Vote for ‘Riding the Roding’

The Friends of Wanstead Parklands strongly support the “Riding the Roding” project. This is not only for its direct aesthetic and ecological benefits but because it would complement plans for the regeneration of Wanstead Park, which are currently under development.

Redbridge and the Wanstead Park stakeholders have been working closely on both projects. In particular, the new riverside cycle path will improve local connectivity and restoration of the much-missed Coronation Bridge will make the historic landscape of Wanstead Park much more accessible to Ilford residents.

riding the roding

Vote for Riding the Roding now in the Big Green Poll

Visit the Redbridge-i website for more information

Author: Richard Arnopp, Friends of Wanstead Parklands


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A vote for ‘Riding the Roding’ is a vote for wildlife and nature!

Riding the Roding is one of the shortlisted projects for the Mayor’s Big Green Fund. Tim Harris, chair of the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group, tells us why it needs your support.

As chair of the Wren Group, I’m really excited about Redbridge’s Riding the Roding project. It has wildlife and conservation at its heart, and I really hope it is successful in its bid for the Mayor’s Big Green Fund. Already we’ve got many supporters, particularly from local wildlife and conservation groups like ours.

We care passionately about the nature of the local area. That’s why we’re very excited by the habitat improvement proposals. They’ll undoubtedly improve biodiversity along the Roding Corridor. By ‘softening’ the river banks and introducing a more graceful water flow, it will also create a series of quiet pools.

Roding-Valley-River500px

Apart from looking more attractive, these areas of gentle water flow will encourage a richer variety of vegetation, as well as more breeding invertebrates (like damselflies and dragonflies), and more amphibians, fish and kingfishers. With otters also present not far upstream, surely it won’t be long before they reappear on this stretch of the river. We might even see water voles and water shrews. We’ll also be building bat boxes to help these summer visitors to thrive.

As this stretch of river is also near the popular Wanstead Park, the cycle route and wildlife together will help attract new visitors. I believe this project will be great for Redbridge. It will also be great for conservation and great for walkers and cyclists. Please give it your support.

Vote for Riding the Roding now in the Big Green Poll

Visit the Redbridge-i website for more information

Post Author: Tim Harris, Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group

 

 


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Improve cycling opportunities by voting for ‘Riding the Roding’

With many set to benefit from improvement works along the Roding Valley Way, it is no wonder that cyclist and local campaigner, Gill James is backing the Riding the Roding project in the Mayor’s Big Green Fund.

Redbridge Cycling Campaign sees the Riding the Roding Project as completing the most important cycle route in Redbridge. It finally offers the opportunity to cycle and walk off-road. It will link cycling residents of Ilford, Barking and Newham with Essex. It is ideal for families with children wishing for healthy exercise, being nearly all off-road and following a pleasant river route. It will offer people in a busy urban area safe access to a riverside environment. With sporting facilities such as Ashton Playing Fields and green areas such as Wanstead Park and Ray Park becoming easily accessible.

Local cyclists have been campaigning for many years to have the Roding Valley Way finished. The route is ideal for cycle commuters wishing to reach town centres such as Ilford and Woodford, which avoids busy and polluted roads. It is also the access point for those wishing to travel east towards the Redbridge Cycling Centre and West towards the City.

Therefore we urge you to vote so that everyone can benefit from the regeneration of this beautiful area.

Vote now at www.london.gov.uk/biggreenpoll and select ‘Riding the Roding’

Post Author: Gill James
Redbridge LCC (London Cycling Campaign)


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Children Go Crazy About Bats At South Park’s Latest Fun Nature Event!

Ever wondered what it’s really like to be a bat? No? Well, these kids certainly did and after the event at South Park, Ilford on Wednesday, they knew all the secrets of a bat’s life! I went along to their Let’s Go Batty event to brush up on my bat knowledge!

When I arrived, I just had to spend a few moments sitting by the pond listening to the sounds of nature and the wildlife that surrounds it. Despite the radiance of the bright blue sky, the topic of the day was the dark and often ominously portrayed bats. But, park ranger Julia was determined to debunk myths about bats by shedding light on the facts. The most common misconception that she quickly put right was the incorrect statement that bats are blind. Bats can see, they just use a different spectrum because they are always out in the dark and they don’t even need their eyesight as much as echolocation – which is when they shout and listen to their surroundings.

It was clear that the young children were all eager to become bat experts as they filed into the wildlife education and information centre. As they did so, park ranger Anne began to explain how the very roof of the centre is bat friendly. The park itself also offers the opportunity to join in on a bat walk when it becomes dark as there are many bat boxes hanging in the trees and each box can hold up to 50 bats! In Redbridge, you can find up to 7 different kinds of bats and a special bat detector is used to listen out for their calls – this nifty device was on hand during the presentation and was passed around to all the children as they gawked in amazement.

Julia began the session by testing the audience’s knowledge on bats and they were all extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable! Hands kept shooting up to give examples of different bats and to inform everyone that bats like to feed on mosquitoes, which is why they come out mostly at night.

It was then time for some arts and crafts which meant a lot of glue, coloured paper and of course googly eyes! During the process, one young man declared that his creation was “going a bit donkey wonky!” meaning, it was time to ask mum for help. The result, however, was an abundance of awesome bats hanging from sticks and being waved around the room.

During the hubbub of the arts and crafts, Anne told me more about the park and its plans for the future. It’s admirable at how dedicated the teams are to South Park as much of it has been transformed from previously unfortunate conditions. Being built in 1903, the park has a lot of history and Anne highlighted the importance of its heritage being preserved. As well as this, there are plans to create a new basketball court and to have pond dipping introduced by 2016. The success of the park is clear as the walls of the centre are plastered with photos and information about the park and the wildlife that lives there. It’s a hub of information which has led 150 children to visit the park during the summer term.

The final activity of the day involved actually getting out on the grass and enjoying the fresh morning air. A very clever game was devised to physically demonstrate how bats work. Some children pretended to be bats while others pretended to be moths. The bats would be blindfolded to replicate the dark conditions that bats venture out in and the moths would be whizzing all around. When the bat shouts, the moths would stop and the bats would have to use echolocation to try and pinpoint where the moths are. This resulted in a great deal of fun and squeals of laughter, especially when the mums joined in and became moths!

Guest Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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Ilford War Memorial Gardens Open Day Helps Mark 100 Years Since The Great War

To mark the 100 year anniversary of World War One, Vision – Redbridge Culture & Leisure have hosted a range of events to commemorate the Great War 1914-1918. I went along to Ilford War Memorial Gardens in Newbury park on Saturday, to enjoy the live music, stalls and remnants of the past that all paid tribute to the war.

On approaching the entrance of the memorial gardens, my attention was immediately grabbed by the many Royal British Legion flags that fluttered proudly on the gate posts. They were set against the background of the beautiful gardens that were full of people of all ages, milling around the various exhibitions and performances – I couldn’t wait to join them.


IWMG Open Day performer

I began my visit by listening to the performance of Miss Kitty Clements who, along with some wonderful singing, assumed the role of someone living in wartime Britain. Stories of conscription and the white feather that would be given to those viewed as ‘cowards’, not fighting in the war, were told. She then read out a letter, typical of those that would have been delivered to the loved ones of those on the front line. The painful truths of the past were brought to life as the heartbreaking words of the soldier who could not even reveal his location were read out.

The next performers were the Red Hot Ukulele Duo who really got the crowd involved by encouraging them to sing along as they played their upbeat renditions of old favourites including ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ and ‘If You Were The Only Girl In The World.’ Their costumes really replicated the entertainers of the time. After a considerable amount of time spent lounging on the deck chairs and listening to the music, I decided to wander through the gardens and explore the stalls.

There was a wide range of exhibitions on offer from Redbridge museum and library and other heritage groups. My favourite stall was one that provided the opportunity to view pictures from the war in 3D by looking through a stereoscope. It was just another fantastic way that the event made sure the past was brought to present day. I looked through a great variety of photos from soldiers in the trenches to the wartime ambulance services. Understandably, this stall had caught the attention of many children who marvelled at the photos.

Situated towards the back of the gardens is the Memorial Hall  that contains the names of the men of Ilford who died during the war. After I scanned the walls with the engraved names, I browsed through the displays that told the history to accompany the names. From the colourful wartime posters encouraging people to join the RAF to the books containing the history of the memorial gardens, I was very impressed at how accessible the events of the past are as they have now shaped our futures in such an iconic way, and we can look back on them with the help of those dedicated to preserving the history.

As I made my way back to the gates, I took a moment to appreciate the very impressive memorial that stands right at the entrance. The tall structure towers over the whole gardens and the statue of the soldier that stands proudly upon it, evokes a great deal of emotion. As I was leaving and the sound of the live music faded away, I noticed another group of people entering the gates, ready to embark on the journey through the past.

See here for more information on First World War in Redbridge

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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The Hunters Grimm – immerse yourself into a world of fantasy!

I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for when I joined the audience of The Hunters Grimm promenade performance in Valentines Park today, but boy was it fun, I didn’t stop smiling (even when I should have been sad!!)

Our hosts, Dot and the Brothers Grimm wanted us to help them in their quest to find stories… stories with a happy ending as one of the brothers was very sad and needed cheering up!

Introductions

The cast greet the audience

As we were led off around the Mansions walled gardens we became part of lots of little stories, firstly bumping into a seemingly harmless wolf lying on the ground; he chatted to us while moving menacingly ever nearer. Then we heard a cry for help and it was a young woman wanting help to fit into the shoe of her dreams!! Next we were serenaded by a band of animals who taught us a dance. Completely bonkers but a lot of fun on a lovely sunny day!! Finally we met a prince who had fallen on hard times searching for the woman of his dreams… would this be our happy ending? You simply must bring the family along to find out.

Animal band

The animal musicians of Breman

This show has universal appeal to old and young alike and can’t help but engage you as the cast draw you into their fantasy world. Children will simply adore this show as you can completely immerse yourself in it and become as involved as you want which makes it feel very personal.

The cast of Teatro Vivo were amazing and incorporated The Community Chorus, regular people like you or I that had signed up as supporting cast members and they blended in perfectly.

With only one day left to run, I urge you to go along on Saturday 2 August. There are 2 performances to choose from; 3pm or 6pm. I promise you, you won’t be sorry!

You can either buy your tickets online at Teatro Vivo or on the day at the box office to the rear of the Gardener’s Cottage Café.  Car parking available.

More information on the Redbridge-i website

Post Author: Cathy Pace