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The Friends of
Bushy and Home Parks
Become a Member Make a Donation
The Friends of
Bushy and Home Parks
Become a Member Make a Donation
The Friends of
Bushy and Home Parks
Become a Member Make a Donation
The Friends of
Bushy and Home Parks

Our Achievements

We were founded in 1990 as a response to plans to cut down and replant the historic Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park, campaigning successfully to change those plans. We supported the revival of Chestnut Sunday and its’ Parade that was so popular in the late Victorian era. We were instrumental in promoting the restoration of the Water Gardens – a project that eventually became a keystone in the more extensive Bushy Park restoration of the early 21st Century.

Campaigning for adequate policing of the royal parks; supporting the introduction of the volunteer Rangers in Bushy Park to improve visitor understanding; funding wildlife schemes and planting schemes in both parks; assisting Bushy Park and NPL to win a space sapling; providing education and interest through the highly regarded walks and talks programme. These are all examples of the many achievements of the Friends. We aim to do more to keep these parks for future generations of visitors to enjoy.

For more details you can read our latest Annual Report below.

Friends of Bushy and Home Park

Annual Report for 2023/24

This is my eighth annual report to Members. It is a privilege to represent you, the members, in our dealings with The Royal Parks and Historic Royal Palaces, and with other stakeholders who manage and enjoy these two wonderful, semi-wild, natural spaces.

We members are very conscious of the amazing resource these parks provide. They are places that are good for us. They are places of great history. They are repositories of fascinating wildlife. These parks provide us with well-being and space to enjoy nature. They support thousands of natural species with important habitats and the conditions for their survival. These parks are far more important than many people realise. But you, the Friends, know it.

The Friends role is to promote respectful use of the parks by visitors and to support the parks for future generations to enjoy. Each year these become more difficult and fragile aims, due to climate change and the increasing demands of a human population which wants to enjoy the parks. As I reported last year, climate change is making the life of the parks and their management anything but straightforward. The staff and contractors in The Royal Parks and in Historic Royal Palaces are doing their very best to conserve the parks for whatever the future holds.

Let me turn to the past year of Friends activity. It could be described as the year of Buggy, Bench, and Bingo. I will expand on this headline.

In 2023 we ran a trial service using an electric buggy to carry visitors between the Diana car park and the Pheasantry car park. This was to mitigate difficulties faced by people with limited personal mobility who cannot now be driven by car along the no-through-road of Chestnut Avenue. The Friends provided around a dozen volunteer drivers for the buggy. I am very grateful for the volunteer drivers’ commitment, patience, and good humour. They rapidly became yet another asset to the park as they inter-acted with visitors. Establishing the buggy service was not without significant effort on our part, because it was fraught with administrative hurdles and with new policies which The Royal Parks implemented at the time.

We ran the trial on three days a week during several weeks of the summer. We were using a buggy loaned to us by Hyde Park. Unfortunately, the buggy was rather careworn and did not stand up to very many days of our use. It broke down irrecoverably after just 22 days, which prevented us from providing much of the planned summer period with a service. Nevertheless, in those few days we carried a total of 345 passengers, thereby proving the potential of the service. Our trial was successful, albeit the buggy itself let us down. Bushy Park is going to get a brand-new buggy of our own, although the procurement process is taking forever.  We hope the service will commence by early summer. Apart from providing the shuttle service between the two car parks, we will use it to provide occasional park safaris to the further reaches of the park. The volunteer drivers became very adept at providing passengers with a tour guide commentary during the short journeys, and they are keen to show off their knowledge on safari!

Buggy, Bench and Bingo. I report on the bench because we commissioned the construction and installation of a new curved 10-seater bench, now located in the Pheasantry Plantation. This bench commemorates our late member, volunteer and benefactor, Ann Sayer. Some of you will be aware that Ann was a record-holding long-distance walker. She was the first British woman to walk 100 miles in under 24 hours, which allowed her to become a so-called “Centurion”. The bench carries a plaque recording Ann’s achievements and the bench uses her bequest to the Friends, which she left us in her will. £10,000 has been spent on the bench. We have planted a tree alongside the bench. It is a Mountain Ash; Ann was also a mountain walker. She was also member of the Great Britain women’s rowing team, and the tree is commonly known as a Rowan. Furthermore, the tree is characterised by its tall, stately, and upright growth, which is exactly how anyone would have described Ann. I hope you appreciate the deliberation which we took to choose that tree.

There is one other bench reference for which the Friends have responsibility. We have commissioned small sign plates to be fixed to several benches around the Skylark nesting areas in Bushy Park. These signs will aim to draw attention to visitors, and especially dog walkers, of the nesting areas. We hope the signs will make a difference. We haven’t quite reached the point of banning dogs and fencing off the areas, as is being done in Richmond Park this year. The Royal Parks will monitor the impact of the policy in Richmond Park and determine if these rules will need to be implemented elsewhere. The poor skylarks are suffering and each year we fear for their non-return. They are an absolute joy to hear in the summer.

Buggy, bench, and Bingo!

Those of you who regularly bring young children into Bushy Park may know about Bushy Bingo. This is a simple game for young children to look for specific items as they progress around the park. They can collect from the Visitor Centre a free Bingo Sheet which contains pictures of seasonal items. They tick off these items as they spot them and if they bring the completed sheet back to our volunteers in the Visitor Centre they are awarded a very large sticker which proclaims them to be a Bushy Park Champion. We introduced the game early in 2023, and a new sheet of items is issued for each season. It is proving very popular and effective in getting young children to become more interested in their natural surroundings in the park.

If I was to continue with the alliterative B theme it could be beetles, bristles, bridge and building.

Building, because you will have seen many of the actions being taken in Bushy Park. Hundreds of new young trees planted as a succession plan for trees which will reach an end to life. The removal of invasive plant species, and clearance of strangling undergrowth. Removal of bracken which has spread too far. The erection of new fencing, which protects areas, permits wildlife corridors, allows light to reach plantations, and will last longer. The protection of older trees from root compaction while protecting visitors from falling branches. The planting of thousands of bulbs and shrubs. Waterways cleared and other drainage improvements. Wider, permeable, pathways allowing visitors to stay on the path instead of eroding grassland. Benches for resting and enjoying views. Parts of the park which have been hidden are now being opened to improve light, which improves growth, which improves habitats, and opens wildlife corridors for smaller creatures. 

This Restoration programme in Bushy Park was implemented following the effects caused by visits during the Covid pandemic. It comes to an end this Spring by which time over £2million pounds will have been spent on it. The Friends have been consulted and involved in decisions about all of this. On your behalf, I thank The Royal Parks for their commitment and hard work in this restoration programme.

Beetles of the Dung Variety, or varieties, in fact. A survey by the Royal Parks ecologists has been undertaken identifying different dung beetle species in the park. The deer poo is an attraction for them. There are over 60 different species in Britain. As a child I was informed through television programmes about Dung Beetles in Africa. Perhaps like me therefore, you will have been surprised to learn that dung beetles are found under our very noses. Well maybe not close to our noses, but you know what I mean.

Bristles are of course my reference to the Hedgehog survey in Bushy Park carried out by ZSL for The Royal Parks. While the precise details of the survey remain confidential at this time, what has been announced is that Bushy Park contains a thriving hedgehog population. The use of motion sensitive cameras identified these nocturnal creatures. What I can say is that there are many dozens of the animals running around the park at night in the summer. That is a joyful result, given the national population of hedgehogs has declined disastrously over the past three or four decades.

A Bridge

Many of you will know there is a bridge over the Longford River in the Nature Reserve area of Brewhouse Fields. It isn’t accessible to the general public but is very picturesque and can be seen from the path at the end of Dukes Head Passage. For some reason the bridge is shown on old maps of the park area but does not bear a name. Some research was undertaken by Graham Dillamore using very old documents which were held in the Hampton Court Palace archives and together with him and Phil Edwards, David Ivison and I went to have a look at the bridge. It bears a stone dating it to the George III period. As we stood on the bridge we spotted a Kingfisher in the stream a little way down-river. It was immediately determined that, in the absence of any other name, we will refer to it as Kingfisher Bridge.

I have strained my credibility with you by finding topics beginning with the letter B. I will stop now, and report on our engagement with Home Park.

It continues to be a peaceful and charming oasis for most of the year. One of the most important changes in that park, from the perspective of the Friends, has been the appointment of a second full-time Ranger. She is Eleanor Evetts, and she works alongside Russell Downs, who many of you know is chiefly responsible for the deer herd. Eleanor has been very proactive in looking for ways to engage the Friends in further supporting activity in Home Park. She is looking at wildlife and habitat projects we can support. Working with our Rebecca Harvey, Eleanor is helping to establish a new “Introduction to Home Park Walk” which they will be implementing this year. We have published the dates of those walks on our website, and they will also appear on our notice boards at the Visitor Centre and in our Newsletter.

We have been in discussions with Home Park management for a couple of years about improving the public access gate at the Kingston entry point. That gate is next to the cattle grid and is not exactly straightforward for mobility scooters and for children’s pushchairs. A redesign is necessary. The Friends offered to fund a new gate and I am pleased to announce this should be going ahead in 2024. We are paying for the new gate with a £10,000 grant from our funds to Home Park.

Members will be keen to hear my annual update report on the ongoing tale of the Space Sapling. This apple tree was grown from a seed taken from Isaac Newton’s apple tree, and taken into space by astronaut Tim Peake, as an experiment to determine if space travel and no gravity had any effect on seedling growth. As I reported last year, and despite great care for it, the tree died. Proving space travel for an apple seed is not beneficial. Nevertheless, NPL kindly set the remains of the tree in a display case which is now in the Bushy Park Visitor Centre. Our volunteers can describe the unusual story of the Space Sapling to interested park users, who might otherwise simply wonder why we have a dead bit of tree in a Perspex display case…

I want to record here my gratitude to Sue Robertson, our volunteer manager of the Visitor Centre. She keeps our displays relevant, seasonal, and pristine. She spends a lot of her time thinking about what visitors might find interesting and useful, and she enjoys finding new items of merchandise that we can offer as souvenirs and mementoes for park visitors, whilst boosting our funds for new projects. In the past year we have had several pop-up exhibitions in the Centre, covering hedgehogs, trees, and the Woodland Gardens. One of our volunteers, Moya Meredith Smith, has used her past professional expertise to obtain and display a variety of different invertebrates and animal skeletons, and a substantial number of these exhibits have been encased in resin to protect them for small children to examine. Moya found a PhD student, Erica Fischer, who undertook the resin encasement for us.

We have recently introduced a card-preferred payment policy at the Visitor Centre. While we will still take cash payments, they represent a small minority of transactions at the Centre. For us, the administration of cash is disproportionately cumbersome, as it requires weekly cashing up, checking, keeping securely, and taking to the bank. We will also continue to take cash at events where we set up our stall and at Talks and other events where people offer donations.

I must record here our sorrow at the death during the year of our long-time stalwart member and volunteer Vic Lewis.  Vic’s wife Diana has researched, designed, illustrated, and produced several of our booklets, leaflets, and other items for park visitors to enjoy. Vic led many walks not just for the Friends, but Richmond Health walks, too. Vic and Diana were an inseparable couple with a lovely family.  Our condolences and best wishes go to Diana and family.

On a much happier note, I shall also record here our delight in July at the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Royal Parks given to Pieter Morpurgo, our Honorary President, by The Royal Parks Guild. Pieter has served the Friends for several decades, as Trustee, as Chairman, as volunteer, as public speaker on our behalf, and as a fund-raiser. This was the very first time the Guild has made an award to a member of a Royal Parks Friends Group.

We spent a lot of Friends’ time planning for a revival of Chestnut Sunday in 2024. With The Royal Parks, we had ascertained the sort of event that should be held, with environmentally friendly, community-based, activities. We were hoping to include more music and possibly dancing displays, and a parade which would replicate the origins of the event. We had hoped to find ways to celebrate the modern history of the park whilst avoiding fume-belching military vehicles. I am very grateful to a group of keen volunteers who were instrumental in working up the plans. We had got some way along the planning path when it became clear that The Royal Parks team in Bushy Park were already overloaded with the Restoration programme and simply would not have the capacity to take on a full-blown Chestnut Sunday. The management of the event is for The Royal Parks, not the Friends, of course. We acknowledged that the park Restoration has higher priority than a one-day event. We needed to re-think our plans, to hold an event which will place minimal demands on the park staff. We will, instead of a big event, promote a day of picnicking along the Avenue, with an exhibition of wildlife photography, and more guided walks. Weather permitting, of course. 

The other substantial achievement by the Friends in the past year has been our programme of walks and talks. I must thank and congratulate Rebecca Harvey for being the engine behind all this. We have held 50% more walks and used more volunteer walk leaders and experts than in previous years. We have had some fascinating talks, culminating in a most excellent one given just before Christmas by Tracy Borman, the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. Alongside the successful arrangements for the talks, I know Rebecca was faced with turmoil finding venues following the sudden unavailability of Normansfield Theatre. That was due to Normansfield’s Victorian heating system dying.  The hiring fee has now increased substantially to pay for the new heating system, so we are having to look elsewhere. We are now rather like a Rock Band on tour, although our tour is confined to venues in the neighbourhoods bordering the parks.

We operated another successful year at the Visitor Centre, with our volunteers engaging with 17,712 visitors to the park. We assisted The Royal Parks with their two Nature Roadshows in Bushy Park at easter and in August. We did tree and shrub and bulb planting in Mary’s Glade near the Waterhouse Pond. We set up our stall at the Teddington Fair, on one of the hottest days of the year. At Christmas we were pleased to host the Quire who sang Carols at the Pheasantry café. Overall, it seems a successful year.

I will add finally, that one of the things I have lobbied The Royal Parks about in the past year is the Childrens Playground and the nearby toilets. A proposal was put forward by The Royal Parks’ Landscape Architects to improve equipment, layout, and landscaping of the Childrens Playground. I was asked to comment on it. I stressed the need for plans to improve accessibility for children and carers with disabilities and provide a challenging but safe environment whose design reflects that it is part of this historic park, not just a place in which play equipment is located. They are taking these comments into account. However, Phil Edwards and I both drew attention to the need to sort out the ongoing problems which occur with the nearby toilets, frequently blocking up and which are rather unwelcoming, as a priority. If the playground is improved and attracts even more use, then the toilets will be even more of a problem if not fixed. The sequence of work must be that the toilets are fixed before the playground has substantial work. I will continue to press The Royal Parks on these matters.

What are our Projects planned for 2024?

We will start the fully operational electric buggy service in Bushy Park.

We expect to see the installation of the new Kingston Gate pedestrian entry to Home Park.

We will commence the new Introduction to Home Park walks.

We will establish Chestnut Sunday in 2024 as a low-key event and will plan to extend it in 2025.

We will hold small event related to Camp Griffiss and the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

We are supporting the introduction of green roofs on some of the litter bin stores in Bushy Park.

We will assist in the protection of the Skylark nesting areas through education and advice.

We aim to provide a new pergola at the Waterhouse Pond viewing platform. This will replace one which used to be there but eventually rotted away more than a decade ago.

We may fund extra shelters at the kiosk outside seating area, by the Pheasantry car park.

We may fund one of the new replacement bridges which are to be installed in the Waterhouse Plantation of in the Woodland Gardens.

We will continue to support the tree strategy for succession planting in Bushy Park.


Our membership secretary, Susan Hugill, reports that membership stood at 1520 at the end of 2023.


Every year, members and visitors show their appreciation for the parks and for our endeavours as Friends, with their generous donations. Our thanks to all for your gifts to the parks.


We currently have over 70 volunteers who operate the Visitor Centre and provide other assistance. They are a friendly and enthusiastic team who enjoy helping visitors.

They are volunteer walk leaders, volunteer buggy drivers, and the staff who operate the Visitor Centre. Together they provided an impressive total of 1,939 hours of service in 2023. We are hugely grateful to all of them, as they make a significant difference to the parks.

I want to record here my thanks to Elizabeth Malone, who took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator in the Spring of 2023. The handover from her predecessor, Rosemary MacColl, was seamless and Elizabeth has thrown her energy and expertise into the role very successfully.

Keeping in Touch

Jeannie Edwards edits our four seasonal newsletters. David Meanwell keeps the website relevant and secure for visitors to use. Susan Hugill, Rebecca Harvey and Jeannie Edwards have issued occasional and urgent informative messages to members. We try to keep members up to date and informed sufficiently, without overwhelming you with our communications.

Trustees and Officers

Our Trustees and other officers of FBHP have continued to work hard during the past year on behalf of the membership and in support of both parks. One or two Trustees are considering retiring from their posts next year, despite my blandishments for them to continue. We will therefore be looking at succession planning as 2024 unfolds. People who wish to become Trustees should ideally have a skillset, or experience, which can add to the capabilities of our committee. Above all, they need to appreciate the importance of these parks and have a desire to support them for the long term. 

And finally

We continue to enjoy these two parks as they face climate change and increased numbers of visitors. The Friends work closely with the police, the volunteer Rangers, and the management teams in both parks. We are grateful for all their hard work.

I am especially grateful to Phil Edwards the Bushy Park manager and Nicholas Garbutt from Historic Royal Palaces for their comments to the Trustees at a recent committee meeting. They said that the quality of the relationship that the Friends have with their two organisations means that we are regarded as part of the overall team which looks after these parks. They and their staffs appreciate that we provide not just financial support and physical support to their activities, but often moral support too. Especially as they wrestle with demands and criticisms from special interest groups who have no insight of the often-delicate balance these parks maintain. It is gratifying that we have that appreciation from the two organisations.

I want to record my thanks to all the trustees, officers of the committee, volunteers, other helpers, and especially you the members for your continuing interest and support. It is the aim of us all to ensure the protection and conservation of these wonderful parks for future generations to enjoy.


Colin Muid, Chair, Friends of Bushy and Home Parks.                                              March 2024.

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