My memories of Greenwich Park as a local
I’ve lived close to Greenwich Park for the past 25 years and I come to the park three or four times each week.
I was actually brought up in Devon and I can remember my very first visit - a summer school trip to Greenwich Park, The Observatory and The Cutty Sark – dare I say it, way back in the ‘70s. I remember a very strict teacher getting very cross with us, because we all rolled down one of the hills and according to her, “it was not something that young ladies should be seen doing!” Since then, I’ve enjoyed being one of the London 2012 Games Makers at the equestrian events for both the Olympics and Paralympics at Greenwich Park. Witnessing the preparations, combined with the huge British medal successes within the park, has provided precious life-long memories.
What I've learnt as a Ranger
I’ve been bowled over by what I’ve learnt during my time as a Ranger - and I’ve made new friends. Everyone has their special areas of interest and we pick up facts from each other. One Ranger might be knowledgeable on the local history, while another might be studying horticulture and knows all the plant or tree names - or someone will know all the different types of birds, bees and butterflies. It’s a fabulous way to learn. We’re all so different: male, female, varying ages and backgrounds, yet everyone shares the same passion for the park.
Easy to spot in our orange uniforms
You’ll find us walking around - we’re easy to spot in our brightly-coloured orange uniforms and we’ll always say: ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’, (socially distanced of course!).
We’ll break the ice by asking people if they’re having a nice day. This often gets people chatting – which gives us a chance to see how we can help them get the most out of their visit. For example - if they’ve small children with them, we can ask if they are heading to the playground or to have a picnic.
Park visitors approach us with questions: What time does the park close today? Where are the Anglo-Saxon cemeteries? Do we know the name of a tree? Or, sometimes, you meet people who just want to tell you about their memories of the park.
Why not give it a go?
If you enjoy meeting people and want to help preserve the park for future generations, it’s a very enjoyable experience.
You might see someone climbing trees, picking flowers or leaving their picnic behind for others to pick up. Tactfully approaching these visitors and advising them to respect a 400-year-old tree, or asking them to leave the flowers for others to enjoy, or asking them to pick up their own rubbish and place in the provided bins - or better still to take it home with them, makes you feel good, because you are helping others.
It’s different every day. Different visitors, different birds, the progression of seasons, and of course, you see how much work goes into running the park – with teams caring for the flower beds, the rose garden, maintenance and picking up the endless rubbish. They deserve the highest of praise.
Heritage, nature and community
Greenwich Park is something to be proud of. It’s visited by school children, local residents and worldwide tourists because of the famous Tudor and Stuart history, the astronomy, The Royal Observatory and its location at 0o Longitude. You’ve an epic view of London – making it pretty spectacular for a sunrise or sunset, and of course if you’re lucky, an eclipse. How can you beat that?!
There’s diverse topography, steep hills, flower gardens, a fantastic playground – including a beach, a boating lake, picnic areas and places for quiet contemplation. Quite simply, it’s a privilege to have it so close to home.
It’s a particularly exciting time with the Greenwich Park Revealed project underway – a multimillion pound investment into the park. It’ll be great to see the restoration of this historical landscape unfold and more facilities for visitors and locals created. Lots of people will inevitably be inquisitive and want to learn more. Me included.
To apply to be a Volunteer Ranger click here