Autumn Tidy Up

On a very soggy Saturday morning seven brave volunteers refused to be daunted by the weather and got on with the job! Painting and wooden bench preservation was totally abandoned in favour of giving the pavilion garden a quick once over.

We litter picked three half bags of other peoples’ rubbish and after 90 minutes we all went home somewhat wet but feeling energised by the experience.

Bat walk

More than 70 people thoroughly enjoyed a late Saturday afternoon Bat Walk under the leadership of Chris Doubell of the Hampshire Bat Group. Chris demonstrated a bat’s acoustic capabilities and physical size in flight with the aid of some very co-operative children. He also brought along two live bats which allowed us all to see the small intricacies of the real thing.

To the joy of all concerned Oakley Park bats came out to play.

We first arrived at the children’s play area where we were given a truly magnificent display of chase and dive bombing - no need for bat detectors!

More were to be seen and heard under the trees by Burnside and a few could be detected around the pond. Darkness drew the event to a close and to show our gratitude and appreciation to Chris, we will be sending him a £30 cheque for the Hampshire Bat Group.

For more information about our local Bats, please visit - wildaboutgardens.org.uk - bats.org.uk - hampshirebatgroup.org.uk

30 years Anniversary Celebration in the Park

Past and current committee members celebrated 30 years of Friends of Oakley Park with an anniversary afternoon tea in Oakley Park on Sunday. Guests included Fleet Town Councillors and staff and the great-grandson of the man who bequeathed the park to the people of Fleet almost 100 years ago.

Oakley Park was given to the people of Fleet by James Oakley in 1920 and Hart District Council purchased adjacent woodland in 1972 to create the park as it is today. By the late 1980s, Oakley Park had become neglected and overgrown and the Friends group formed to campaign for better children’s play equipment and to provide a hands-on volunteer workforce: the group’s first event in September 1989 was a litter pick which filled a skip. In 1992, the 44 Royal Engineers, stationed at Gibraltar Barracks in Minley, cleared the pond as a training exercise.

Today the woodland is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, teaming with diverse wildlife including a protected species of bats and a variety of birds. Ownership of the park was transferred from Hart District Council to Feet Town Council in 2010.

Bob Schofield, Chairman on Fleet Town Council, presented the group with a commemorative spade and certificate in recognition of their efforts. He said, “I am delighted to celebrate 30 years of such a vibrant community group. Fleet Town Council undertakes general maintenance of our parks but greatly values the support of volunteer groups such as Friends of Oakley Park, for looking after the parks in more detail and adding community value through their activities and events.” Fleet Town Council presented the Friends with a spade to commemorate the 30-year anniversary. Chairman of Friends of Oakley Park Mike Bye said, “In 30 years, the Friends of Oakley Park has run over 60 working parties to improve the park, has raised funds to purchase play equipment and benches, and has run numerous events for park users from fetes to children’s fun runs, from teddy bears’ picnics to bat walks. Oakley Park is such as asset to Fleet and we owe a great deal to all those who have served on the committee over the past three decades and the numerous volunteers who have worked so hard to keep it so.”

Summer Fete

Our fourth Summer Fete, once again superbly organised by Jane, was a great success with hundreds of visitors enjoying a gentle summer’s day in our wonderful park which was looking at its best in the gentle sunshine.

This year we introduced a public address system which not only kept the public advised of all the available activities but also added very festive background music. Numerous displays and activities were on offer for the more adventurous. Hart Gymnastics gave a very impressive display and later encouraged viewing members of the public to join in - some did - well done to them! Shuffle Tunes entertained everyone with a varied choral rendition of many familiar favourites - so popular their encores overran their time allocation.

A series of sports activities was organised with the Emergency Services Tug of War star-lining. Our Dog Show was judged by members of ARK Veterinary, Fleet, which included categories for: Best Trick; Most Handsome Dog; Prettiest Bitch and Best Rescue Dog. Event Prize Giving and Soft Toy Raffle closed the fete. The public were able to participate in old fashioned fun and enjoy various stalls including: BBQ, Light Refreshments, Ice Cream, Nerf Gun Shoot-Out, Coconut Shy ,Stocks, Wang a Welly, Bouncy Castle, Hook a Duck, Face Painting, Books & Toys, ARK Vet’s, Garden Plants, Emergency Services, Children’s Tug of War and Sports Races. Truly enjoyable day was had by one and all!

Fun Run

On that temperate Sunday, 19th May, morning some 158 under 12s registered their participation in our sixth annual 2k Fun Run, along with many parents, and yes even grandparents! The weather was kind enough to be cool for the runners, without the slightest breeze and occasional sunshine.

The local "Riot Squad" (who nobly assisted with the registration procedure) started the event with a gentle warm-up routine which the children thoroughly enjoyed. Then they moved to the start line and then the countdown before - they're off!

The 2k course leads the runners around the football pitch perimeter, through the woodland winding paths, returning to the open area of the park and back to the pavilion starting line. That's the first 1k! Now they do the whole route over again. The course is marshalled throughout by our loyal volunteers who encourage all the runners to keep going. The lead runner completed the course in 8 minutes 38 seconds.

All runners were presented with a signed completion certificate. To close the event we held a series of mini sprints and selective sports activities. A very satisfying and enjoyable day for all concerned.

Easter Egg Hunt

Over 80 children took part in the Friends of Oakley Park Easter Egg Hunt this year. Whilst over 6-year-olds hunted in the woodland to find 18 golden eggs hidden along the paths and amongst the trees, younger children searched for plant labels hidden in the open park. These tokens could be exchanged for chocolate Easter eggs provided by the Friends. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and it was lovely to see to many people joining in, stopping for a chat, and bringing the park to life.

Spring clean up

To make a local contribution to Keep Britain Tidy’s “The Great British Spring Clean-up 2019”, Friends of Oakley Park held their annual spring clean-up on Saturday, 30th March. All our volunteers enjoyed a glorious spring day with the temperature hovering around 18 degrees thanks to gentle sunshine and a very subtle breeze. Our 31 volunteers - yes, a record turnout - worked so hard it became almost impossible to find enough jobs to keep them all fully employed.

The scope of work undertaken included renovating the banks of the pond; landscaping the pond island; reinvigorating the memorial and pavilion gardens; replacing missing/damaged orienteering posts; repairing damaged drainage pipe supports; cleaning all the park signage; scrubbing clean the picnic benches and traditional benches; clearing the pavilion guttering of pine needles; installing our new banner; removing paint and washing clean several portable tables; scraping some white paint from the pavilion floor; sweeping the children’s play area free of leaves; washing the children’s play equipment - not to forget the multiple number of bags of litter collected by lots of our volunteer team. One of our volunteers began litter picking on Friday evening as he was unavailable to contribute to our Saturday efforts.

Well done and a big ‘thank you’ to all our hard working volunteers.

FOP's SOCIAL EVENING AND AGM

Saturday, 26th January. More than 30 members attended our Social Evening and AGM.

Prior to the formal AGM our guests enjoyed an excellent variety of cold delicacies and copious glasses of wine, not to mention soft drinks. Our treasurer advised members that £2,438 had been spent during the year on new equipment: the Flymobile (£3,337) and a woodland bench (£314). These were financed by income from the fête; Fleet Town Council had paid for installation of both. Other expenditure included a new gazebo and high visibility vests for volunteers. He added that the AGM was largely self-funding, and that the cost of other events such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Children’s Fun Run are now, in the main, met by donations on the day.

Our Chairman summarised, with the help of a slide show, the many activities and events of 2018 including:- a work party to burn the holly from the November tree surgery; an Easter Egg Hunt, where over 200 chocolate eggs were given to children; Spring working party to tidy the park prior to judging for two categories in S&SE in Bloom (The park was awarded Silver Gilt in both Conservation and Small Park categories.); Children’s Fun Run and mini-sprints, in which 129 children under 12 years participated; Summer Fête with numerous events and stalls (new for 2018 – a BBQ from the Rotary Club of Rushmoor and a dog competition supported by Ark Vets.); Bush craft, with thanks to Miles Cooper for running this event; Autumn work party, which included hauling logs out of the pond (Subsequent to this, FTC dredged the pond and it is now clear of leaf litter and weed.); installation of a woodland bench, enjoyed in particular by youths in the park and finally our second Christmas carol event, with stockings for all the children taking part.

Looking to the future, we are looking at providing trim trail equipment for older children and adults. A survey undertaken at the fête has indicated the most popular equipment and the committee is now looking at suppliers and prices.

After recharging their glasses the members were entertained by an excellent presentation from Kevin Griffiths, the Watch Manager at Fleet Fire Station, who was our guest Speaker for the evening. It is always amazing what responsibilities are accepted by volunteers within our community who freely give their time and energy to take care of us when we are at our most vulnerable. The evening closed with a resounding round of applause.