Our First Local Champion is Lorna Robson, who has been so beautifully caring for Hatherley Park for the past 20 years
Maxine Nelmes, our Cheltenham Connect Community reporter, talks to Lorna about her life and passions.
How long have you been living and working in the Cheltenham Connect area of South Cheltenham – are you a lifer or a relative newbie? I don’t think of myself as a newbie, we moved here from north London in September 2000, so I suppose I am!
You weren’t born in Cheltenham, what brought you here?
We wanted to move from London and my husband was offered a job with a company locally.
What do you feel is special about our local community in this part of town? South Cheltenham has a lovely feel about it. It’s like a village within a town where so many people know each other and take a genuine interest in their community.
Please tell us all about your project and why you started it.
I established Friends of Hatherley Park on a very small scale in 2001 because the park looked as if it needed someone to look after it. It was very overgrown and had so much unrealised potential. One of my projects for this year is to have the lake desilted and planted up with appropriate aquatic plants.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards?
The rewards are plentiful; seeing so many people enjoying the park, receiving compliments from park users, self-satisfaction that we are doing a great job. We are so fortunate to have a large membership and an excellent party of dedicated volunteer gardeners. As far as challenges go, particularly in the early days, it often seemed a long wait for Cheltenham Borough Council to respond to requests regarding the park!
What keeps you going? What motivates you?
I treat the park as my back garden! It gives me great pleasure to do this for the community and to see how much joy the park brings to everyone who uses it. Like most people, winter is not my best season, but when you are outside and the snowdrops are coming up and the days are lengthening, it just lifts the spirit. I love meeting and talking with people.
Dreams for the future - what are your future plans for Hatherley Park? The Council have offered to match fund the money we raise towards desilting the lake. Pittville Lake is undergoing similar work at the moment and the contractors have already assessed what could be achieved in Hatherley Park which is very exciting. I have photographs of the lake in the 1950s covered with lilies and neighbours tell me that the water was once crystal clear.
How can Cheltenham Connect help you? What do you most need in the way of resources and support to help you continue?
I would like to publicise our project more widely and welcome all offers of help, whether it’s financial expertise or knowledge about wildlife, plants, trees or gardening.
You can find out more about Hatherley Park by visiting their website http://www.friendsofhatherleypark.org
They also have a Facebook Page The Friends of Hatherley Park
Membership of park is just £5 per year and this small sum supports the work of Lorna and her dedicated volunteers as they care for the park for all of us to enjoy. You can pick up a membership form in the park from the boxes on the fenceline as you walk into the park.
If you’d like further information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org