Fifty years to the day nature-lovers joined together to form the Friends of Richmond Park (FRP) the community group is preparing to mark its golden anniversary.
And when members meet to celebrate the historic occasion on Sunday they won’t just raise a glass to 50 successful years - they will be toasting their hopes for another successful half century.
Ron Crompton, 62, current chairman, was proud the group had made it to such a landmark birthday.
He said: “It is a great achievement.
“The Friends has played a big role in the park over the years in terms of what we have done with public education and walks and talks.
“A lot of the people in the area love the park and don’t want to see it spoiled and I think people feel they are guardians of the park for future generations.”
The group, which officially became a charity in 2009, was originally set up by neighbours who were concerned the green space might become a through road for traffic, which would impact the nature
of the area.
Nowadays 1,500 FRP members work towards preserving the park, ensuring conservation and ecology issues are not overlooked or adversely effected because of human involvement.
Mr Crompton, of Palewell Park, East Sheen, said members were committed to making sure people would be able to enjoy the national nature reserve, and Grade I listed historic landscape, in years to
He said: “The park has been there for almost 400 years so there is a desire to preserve it for the future.
“The park has already had a big loss in important species and gained human imports instead, we want to make sure that in the next 50 years we don’t lose any more.”
The FRP will celebrate its birthday in the park on Sunday with special guests, including co-founder and organiser of the 1961 inaugural FRP meeting, Wendy Macaulay.
They will also welcome three new patrons during the celebrations - broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, former Richmond Park MP Baroness Susan Kramer and children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
The group is also launching a book dedicated to the park. The first Richmond Park guidebook of its kind is a valuable resource for parkgoers to learn about its history, as well as the different
species of animals that live there. The book goes on sale on Monday and costs £9.99. For more details visit frp.org.uk.
To get involved with the friends email firstname.lastname@example.org.