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Over the last twelve months, volunteers with the Friends of Broomfield Park (FoBP) have put in more than 9000 hours of unpaid work to benefit the park and local community. If they'd been paid at the national basic wage rate, the bill would have come to more than £100,000!

These were among the headline figures included in a 5-minute video that formed part of the FoBP committee's annual report to members at the Friends' annual general meeting, held online earlier this month - now available for everyone to watch.

Part of the crop of fruit and veg planted in the Broomfield Park Growing Space by special educational needs pupils. After harvesting, they prepared a delicious lunch with assistance from Clare Donovan of Cooking Champions

The volunteers didn't just put in a lot of hours, they also worked on an amazingly wide range of projects, one of which - the Palmers Greenery Community Café - supplied much of the funding for some of the others. So every time you buy a coffee and cake at the counter near the tennis courts, you can be sure that all the profits will be invested in good causes. This year the Greenery has been helping West Lea School with placements for young people with special educational needs - you can find them serving there on Tuesdays during term time - as well as funding the Growing Space project, which works with another group of young people, and the Mosaic project.

A new pair of swans, Julia and Caesar, nested on the lower lake and raised the first cygnets in Broomfield Park in living memory. Perhaps attracted by the TLC provided to the park's wildfowl by the FoBP's Pond Group.

Broomfield Park has in recent years been the venue for events of many different kinds, especially during the 2021 and 2022 Summer Festivals, and these have been mostly at the initiative of FoBP members (in particular, David Williamson, who was deservedly rewarded by being featured as an Enfield Community Hero in the Enfield Dispatch).

It's quite clear that the Friends aren't afraid of innovating, but one proposal that they weren't at all keen on was the plan to hold a large-scale "German" beer festival in the park. Why? Well, one clue is in the name: the London Oktoberfest would have brought thousands of revellers from around the capital, not because they were keen to see our bit of north London but with the main aim of drinking large quantities of beer and then attempting to all get home after closing time, probably swamping our (permanently?) reduced train service. FoBP led a successful campaign to cancel the beer festival, gaining support from local councillors and local people, but consider that the council should revisit the consultation arrangements for large events in parks - paradoxically, the current procedures mean there is less consultation about events where alcohol will be on sale than about other types of event.

Lifting the lid on the mystery of the missing water. Getting the model boating pond back in use has been at the top of the FoBP action plan for five years. Finally, with the setting up of a new project group and the start of survey work, the Friends are optimistic that pumps and pipes will be replaced and the water supply restored.

Nine thousand volunteer hours is an impressive amount, but don't think that there isn't plenty more work that could be done to improve the park and help local communities. All the FoBP groups are constantly on the lookout for new volunteers. I know from personal experience that it's a great way of making new friends and gaining new experiences and life skills. There's no need to commit to large amounts of time. Visit the Volunteering Opportunities page on the FoBP website to find out more.

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