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The importance of Friends

Horse at Sutton Common Park
The Friends of Sutton Common Park used horses to help in their work, which has proven popular with residents

Published Monday, 23rd November 2020

Ray Leyden discusses the work of the Friends of Sutton Common Park and what it means to him.

What is your name, and how long you have been a member of the Friends of Sutton Common Park?

My name is Ray Leyden and I am the Chair of the Friends of Sutton Common Park.

I have been involved with the Friends Group since 1998 when our constitution was approved by Sutton Council.

What does being part of the Friends group mean to you?

It means we can provide a strong voice for our local park and take part in improvement activities in consultation with Sutton Parks Department by helping produce an annual parks  "Action Plan" to identify new projects and help with fundraising.

Also it's an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

It's a joy to see how our local park has grown with new activities; a new sports pavilion, new circular path for walkers, new surface for the car park, a new wild flower meadow area, and much more.

It's no wonder Sutton has become a popular destination to live in, because it has such wonderful parks and open spaces.

What is your proudest moment as part of the Friends group?

The creation of the new Sutton Common Park Wild Flower Meadow in the paddock, an area to the north east of the park, because saving our planet is now the new number one priority.

The paddock has now been the subject of a biodiversity project over several years to improve its value for wildlife.

A wet scrape [shallow depressions that seasonally hold water] has been created in this area and the Sutton Biodiversity Team found using horsepower was great the clay site as, unlike machinery, they don't compact the soil.

The good news was that the horses were very popular with the residents - who came out in droves to see them work.  It was a memorable day.

What advice would you share with someone who is considering joining a Friends group?

As a volunteer it means you can put something back into the community and work with like-minded people.  

You also get an opportunity to meet with the "movers and the shakers " of Sutton Council and your local ward councillors for advice and support.

It's an opportunity to learn new skills, and it always helps the career path if you are looking for a job.

It's a win-win and, as a bonus, you will be charged up with the additional "goodwill factor".