Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Press release about our tree dressing day

I found this on Helping Britain Blossom website. It is all about the Mayow Park Community Orchard and our planned tree dressing event this coming weekend. What great publicity!

Tree Dressing Day in Mayow Park Community Orchard

Event Date: 04 Dec 2016
Head along to Sydenham’s Mayow Park Community Orchard on Sunday 4th December for a winter orchard celebration and dress a tree for Tree Dressing Day!Tree Dressing Day, initiated by Common Ground in 1990 and held in the UK during the first week of December, is based on customs from all over the world, including an old Celtic custom of tying cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a tree and the practice in Japan of decorating trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems.
The day aims to highlight our responsibility for looking after trees and reminds us of their enormous cultural, spiritual and environmental importance. It is fast becoming recognised as an annual opportunity to celebrate trees in the UK.
 Mayow Park’s community orchard, which was established in January 2012,  and expanded in early 2016 with the help of Helping Britain Blossom, is one of a number of community orchards across London for local communities to manage, enjoy and use, bringing people together to create green spaces and build healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.
Located within the 17-acre Mayow Park, Lewisham borough’s oldest municipal park, the orchard is maintained by the community for the community, overseen by the Friends of Mayow Park, an 8-strong team of volunteers from the local area.
Alona Sheridan is the chair of the group and an Orchard Leader for the Mayow Park Community Orchard. Alona is also a Helping Britain Blossom Orchard Mentor, which enables her to share her knowledge and experience to train others on the necessary skills required to set up and maintain an orchard.
Alona told us why Mayow Park Community Orchard are holding a Tree Dressing celebration:
“Tree Dressing Day is an opportunity for us, as a community, to appreciate the trees we have and the benefits they bring to all of us. It’s our chance to say thank you to our leafy friends. Our own community orchard with its 18 fruit trees helps bring people together from all walks of life, encourages them to be outdoors enjoying nature, teaches them new skills and provides free fruit to pick, eat and cook. As well as having fun on the day, we’d love to get more people involved in the orchard’s care and upkeep and we hope the tree dressing event will encourage them to do so, not just this year but for years to come.”
Ryan O’Kane from The Orchard Project and Helping Britain Blossom’s project manager for London adds:
“Like all community orchards, Mayow Park Community Orchard is a real asset to the local area and the Friends are very proactive in organising events such as this winter orchard celebration to encourage more people to get involved and reap the benefits. With their ongoing support and that of Helping Britain Blossom we are looking forward to welcoming the next generation of orchard lovers who will nurture it and see it thrive for years to come.” 
The Friends of Mayow Park who have organised the event are inviting locals from Sydenham and Forest Hill to come along between 10am and 12.30pm to join in the celebrations, which as well as tree dressing will include storytelling, craft activities and a winter sing-a-long. 

Message from Perry Vale SNT

This message about pedal cycle thefts was sent from the Perry Vale Ward Safer Neighbourhoods Team on 29th November
From: <>
Date: Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 5:26 PM
Subject: Perry Vale Ward - Crime Alert Message

Dear residents,
Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of pedal cycles stolen from rear gardens across Perry Vale Ward. This type of theft can be easily prevented by ensuring your cycle is securely fastened to an immobile or heavy structure or better still, kept indoors. In addition to this, marking or etching your postcode and house number on bicycles that are valuable is a good deterrent to thieves because they know these items are more easily traced by the police, and it reduces their ability to sell these items on.
Further to this, there have been a number of occasions where home owners have found their gardens have been entered. Although nothing had been taken, we believe this may have been someone intending to enter the garden shed. Can residents please make sure that if they have a shed, it is secured with a suitable lock as well as ensuring all gates or entrances to their gardens are secure in order to prevent easy access.
If you would like further information on home and garden security, please go to the Metropolitan Police Website which has a wealth of crime prevention advice under the appropriate headers or contact us at:
Richard Bailey PC 891PL (DWO)
Perry Vale Ward
Safer Neighbourhoods Team Metropolitan Police Service Catford Hill Police Station 128 Catford Hill, London SE6 4PS
Phone - 0208 721 2480 (Internal 727642) E-mail -

Thursday, 17 November 2016


People who have lived in the locality for some years will remember Dr Hilary Graver, known to others as Mrs Hilary Jarrett. Long-time members of  Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP) have very fond memories of her.
Hilary became actively involved with the Friends of Mayow Park in 1996 when it was still known as Mayow Park Users’ Group and she remained very active until 2014. As Chair of FOMP for 5 years and Treasurer of the group for much longer she steered the group through a time when many parks were in decline, her aim always to ensure that Mayow would be a much-loved and well-used park. She pushed for the name change to Friends of Mayow Park in the late 1990s.
In the early days the Friends of Mayow Park held their quarterly meetings in the homes of members. Hilary knew many people in the community and it was not long before she arranged with the then Head of Forest Hill School toallow FOMP to  meet at his school and for him to participate in our meetings. This arrangement continued until Peter Walsh retired as the school Head.

She believed in the importance of trees to the environment. In Mayow Park, she cared about the magnificent ancient oak trees, which provide a home for many invertebrates, birds and mammals. She, along with husband John and neighbour Bruce, measured the girth of every oak tree and registered the results with the Woodland Trust.

The custom of tree dressing, which takes place annually on the first weekend in December, was embraced by Hilary as a positive community activity in Mayow Park for a number of years, with one particular oak tree being chosen, its long horizontal branch no more than 8 feet above the ground.
Hilary (on right) at Tree Dressing December 2008  © Heather Mallinder

As well as celebrating the ancient trees of Mayow Park, Hilary was keen to get involved with tree planting. In January 2010 the Friends planted a larch, a deciduous conifer, in recognition of the celebration of Tu B’shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees. Hilary was there, spade at the ready, to make sure the tree was well-planted.
Planting a larch behind the bowls green January 2010 © Emma Tarling 
The first fruit trees were planted in January  2012. Sponsors were invited to come forward to select heritage varieties to buy. Hilary chose and planted Lane’s Prince Albert apple. It was a variety she knew from her childhood. For the next three years, from spring to autumn, she and John came once a week to deliver 20 litres of water to the roots of the tree, to ensure it would grow strong and healthy. Eleven fruit trees were planted in 2012. Since then the orchard has expanded to eighteen trees.

Lane’s Prince Albert apple tree © A Sheridan
Many people like the ornamental, old Victorian drinking water fountain which is a feature in the park. Long ago it went out of use, its lead pipes filled with concrete and the drinking cups removed. There were some who wanted it restored and Hilary took on the task to find out if this would be feasible. She contacted the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association to find out if it would be possible to apply for grants to restore it. She met representatives from that Charity and all concluded that it would it would not be possible. Undaunted, Hilary decided that the way forward would be the installation of a new, modern drinking water fountain, as near as possible to the Victorian one. Her communications with the Drinking Fountain Association went back to 2009.

Fountain with new plaque installed 2014 © A Sheridan
Hilary wanted the public to be aware that the fountain was a contribution from the Friends of Mayow Park with a grant from the Drinking Fountain Association so she ordered this plaque which was installed by Fred Baverstock and his colleague,  Steve.

Plaque located behind drinking fountain © A Sheridan

Another campaign she led comes to mind: the installation of the bowls cabins on the green so that the bowls club could vacate the pavilion which was in urgent need of refurbishment. Hilary was furious that FOMP had not been fully consulted about plans to install shipping containers between the bowls green and tennis courts. Thanks to her negotiations with Lewisham and her local campaigning, the cabins were finally located in their present position, though she always viewed their current location as the lesser of two evils.

Mayow Park was awarded its first Green Flag in 2011in recognition that the park had reached a certain standard of maintenance and that the local community was actively involved in caring for the park.
October 2011 first Green Flag for Mayow Park  © A Sheridan 
The dangerous state of the paths was a serious cause for concern and Hilary campaigned hard for improvements. From time to time paths were temporarily repaired, but this was never enough. The first genuine improvement was the complete resurfacing of the path parallel to the children’s playground. Sadly, Hilary did not live to celebrate the resurfacing of most of the paths, a task completed in Summer 2016.  
New path towards children's playground July 2011 © A Sheridan
Emma, a former member of FOMP, moved away from Sydenham a few years ago. She remembers Hilary’s role in Mayow Park. 
"I first became involved with FOMP at the end of 2008 as I was concerned with the state of the children's play area. At that time, the Mayor of London launched a competition to encourage communities to vote for funding to improve a selection of local parks. 
I remember standing outside the Co-op with Hilary on cold winter days speaking to people about the future of Mayow Park and what was desperately needed to encourage more use. This competition created an awareness of our park within our neighbourhood and a steady flow of funding by other schemes and charities followed, giving us the opportunity to make those necessary improvements for the benefit of everybody in the community." 
An article in the Newsshopper January 2009 about  this competition quotes Hilary:
"The park has been badly neglected and has been going downhill since the 70s. All it needs is some tender loving care but it needs the money to do this. Most people want the paths improved, the restoration of the pavilion, and a park keeper so everything can be supervised." 
Unfortunately Mayow Park did not win that competition though one in a neighbouring borough did.

"Although I had known Hilary for many years, it was a pleasure to work with her when she was Chair of the Friends of Mayow Park and I was Cabinet Member for Lewisham’s Customer Services. Hilary’s commitment to improving the park and ensuring the services it received from Lewisham Council’s parks maintenance were second to none. Her tenacity with issues is expressed in the installation of the new drinking water fountain which was much needed as Mayow Park’s Victorian one had been taken out of use due to its original lead pipes." 

It is easy to list the many activities Hilary championed in Mayow Park but it does not in any way convey the amount of documents that had to be read, letter writing, telephone calls (before emails became common place) and meetings that Hilary would have attended to ensure that whilst on her “watch” Mayow Park was the best it could be. 
Hilary remained very active until 2014. Even after that she could be seen taking a daily stroll round the park.
She died on 29th July 2016 but her dedication to the park will remain a lasting tribute.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Tree Dressing event 4th December 2016

Exciting news!
The Friends of Mayow Park will be holding a tree dressing celebration with a difference - it will be held in the orchard. People will be able to make objects using items found in nature to hang on the tree guards of the orchard trees. Or they may prefer to write messages on fabric to hang around the trees.
To make this more of a celebration, Amanthi Harris of Storyhug will be helping children to create objects to use in her story telling session.
This celebration is for all ages, for anyone who loves trees.
We had a request to have singing around the trees and  thought that singing winter songs would generate positive energy. Ideas for a sing-along include White Christmas, Deck the Halls, Frosty the Snowman. If you know anyone who plays a musical instrument and can join us on the day, that would be great.

So, what is Tree Dressing Day? It was initiated by Common Ground back in 1990 and they chose the first weekend of December, which is also the final weekend of National Tree Week. It is a chance for people to come together and think of the role that trees have played in shaping the locality and their impact on our lives.
At the simplest level tying strips of cloth or yarn is enough. Some people will have seen 'yarn bombing' where trees are decorated with bright fabrics and yarns.
Tree dressing day is an opportunity to come together and share tree stories.
Mayow Park has some very old trees, a whole range of mature trees  and also an orchard of young trees.
Let's celebrate our trees.