14th May 2021

Supporting Friends of Grove Park

Grove Park - From 'Rags to Riches' thanks to 'Friends of Grove Park' Volunteer Group!

Here at ATM, we regularly like to give back to the local community, working closely with various organisations around the country, providing innovative solutions to help them to achieve their goals.

We recently reached out to Voluntary Action North Somerset, to see who we could collaborate with around the Weston-Super-Mare area, where one of our depots is based.

The Voluntary Action team suggested Friends of Grove Park - A small, friendly and enthusiastic group of volunteers, aiming to promote the social and emotional health and well-being of local residents, working together to facilitate a community cohesion.

Founded in 2016, by a group of Weston-Super-Mare residents, Friends of Grove Park (FOGP) initially came to be, when Johnny Boxshall saw a sign notifying the public of a meeting at the Mayor’s Parlour in Grove Park titled - ‘The Future of Grove Park’.

The meeting quickly showed itself to be about antisocial behaviour, vandalism and drug dealing/usage in the park and was led by the council and local police.

At the time Johnny was involved with a few others, trying to set up an incredible edible presence in the town (planting/growing food in public spaces for public consumption and involvement). A chap from another community organisation, Big Worle, turned to the police and council spokes people and said, ‘What about incredible edible? They could fix this’ and so, Friends of Grove Park was born.

FOGP now work alongside the council to improve this beautiful Victorian park for the local community and local wildlife.

The changes in values of society, have quite literally swept away gardeners, horticulturalists and the value in grounds maintenance, but with over 30 relatively regular volunteers and a few core volunteers who attend the park five days a week, they help to maintain, develop and improve Grove Park and its 8 acres!

The ‘Friends’ group are particularly happy that their regular presence in the park has evolved the park’s previous reputation from a “no-go area“, into a beautiful, safe space, now enjoyed by families and young children.

They are regularly asked to do something about different areas of the park by the public and one example is the renovation and repainting of the pergolas in Jill Dando‘s garden, which was completed for the 20th anniversary of her death (April 2019).

FOGP involve themselves in fundraising for improving the park and receive some support and assistance from a number of avenues, however raising funds to buy plants still proves challenging for them.

This is where ATM were able to assist and the company have been thrilled to be able to help with such a positive initiative and community project.

We caught up with Johnny from FOGP this week and received a wonderful update on the Park’s progress, since ATM’s visit.

“Around two weeks ago I received an email through Voluntary Action North Somerset, telling me that a company, ATM, had over-ordered and were now offering plants to people who could use them, rather than them going to waste.

Initially our focus was on one area of the park, The Rockery, which had become very uncared for, over-grown and pretty impassable in places, the classic ‘shopping trolley and TV in the pond’ scenario!

With a handful of volunteers scraping by with a few tools, they managed to clear the overgrown brambles, bamboo, sedge and ‘lots’ of rubbish!

After stripping back to a certain degree and allowing time to see what else would appear, once given some light and space, we relied on plants donated, often by members of the public passing by and asking if we would like something they have. (This hasn’t changed, four years on and we are continually grateful for the public’s help and contributions.)

Over 150 potted Holly (Ilex aquifolium) arrived merely days after first contact was made with ATM, accompanied by sufficient Honeysuckle plants to create a vine laden jungle that a mini Tarzan would be at home in!

To date Friends of Grove Park have planted well over 100 of the Holly donated by ATM.

These have been able to create quite a striking entrance into the park, by dressing patches of ground that were bare and previously “said nothing.“

This donation from ATM has made a large contribution and FOGP would like to thank them.

We have many plans for developing and improving the park, some ongoing and some yet to begin. Again, thank you ATM!”

Johnny also went on to tell us about FOGP’s future plans for the park, which includes Grove Village Cubs attending, to help plan and develop the top of the park. This is an area that the ‘Friends’ would like populating more and they will be growing a vegetable patch within the Over 50’s area, bringing the young and old together.

FOGP have also started to work with the probation services, who will come and assist in projects and help in the rehabilitation of certain areas in the park.

I think we can all agree that this group of volunteers are doing fantastic things at Grove Park and for the local community and their ongoing hard work and immense efforts should be highly commended.

Friends of Grove Park can be contacted through their Facebook page, their website - or by telephoning 07973 67 67 67