The Friends of the War Memorial Park group, Coventry, was established in 2006. The group was formed to help promote, develop and maintain the War Memorial Park, in order to enhance its value to the community.
In co-operation with Coventry City Council, the group’s first and biggest challenge was in successfully applying to the Heritage and BIG Lottery, in order to obtain funding of £2.8million, for the refurbishment of various areas of the War Memorial Park. This work has transformed the Park, and was completed in 2013.
Subsequently, English Heritage has designated Coventry War Memorial Park as Grade II Listed Status, principally for its landscape design interest. They also specified Grade II* Listed Status for the War Memorial itself, and Grade II Listed Status for the main entrance gates and piers.
In 2013, the Friends worked closely with Council officers to help the War Memorial Park gain Green Flag status, and this accolade was awarded again the following year. In July 2014 Prince William visited, to declare the War Memorial Park a Centenary Field, the first park in the country to be designated as such.
The Friends of the Park have been involved in many other projects over the years. They have investigated the history of the park, including uncovering of the air raid shelter, and developing a History Trail and Tree Trail (available to purchase). The Friends assisted the Parks team in renovating the German Garden and the Rose Garden, and organised a re-dedication ceremony of the Rose Garden in 2013. Another grant from the Changing Spaces programme of the Big Lottery gave the Friends £50,000 to improve the children's play area for under eights. The play area for older children has also had improvements thanks to cash from the Lottery and Council. The Friends have also secured smaller grants. They have used these to work with the Council Education Team in order to hold regular children’s events in the Park, including pony rides, natural history classes and poppy sowing.
In 2014 a calendar with a Coventry theme was designed by the Friends, to mark the centenary of the beginning of The Great War. The Friends also help support the annual Christmas Concert in the Park and produce their own Christmas Cards. A variety of stationery, badges and other Friends mementos are also produced and sold.
The Friends hold regular social events in the Visitor Centre, to which everyone is welcome. Some of these are organised talks on various aspects of the Park, local history and other subjects. Or they may involve entertainment in the form of music and other activities. Reminiscing and discussion can also always be had over a nice cup of tea!
The Friends aim to represent the full diversity of users of the Park. Members include dog owners, and the Friends have been working hard with the Council to ensure a common-sense approach to Dog Control Orders is implemented within the Park. The Friends have held responsible dog ownership events, and they also regularly volunteer for litter-picking duties in the Park.
Current Friends projects include a “Green Gym”, which will provide outdoor exercise stations around the Park for all ages and abilities to use, and also a proposed Bandstand for the Park. The Friends are always looking for more members to help them protect and shape the future of the War Memorial Park, so it can be enjoyed by all. Their general meetings are held monthly in the Visitor Centre during the Summer, and every two months during the Winter.
For the next meeting date, or for more information about joining the Friends, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 024 7667 6368.