Reason 1: Parks are great spaces

Everyone loves their own park don't they?  Packed full of childhood or family memories - a place of peace and fun - a tranquil oasis - what's not to love?  They have been havens for people during lockdown and throughout this difficult time in our lives.  So on that basis, just vote now for Warley Woods as your People's Choice green space.  

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But maybe we should delve a bit deeper?  Why is there a park here at all?  What makes it such a beautiful space - is an accident of nature?  What goes on behind the scenes to keep it as our own personal green and pleasant land?

Reason 2: It isn't beautiful by accident

In 1792 the whole of Warley was just farmland.  Then it was bought by Samuel Galton Junior.  He was a powerful and wealthy man, but living in rented accommodation.  He wanted a place of his own.  He was also a forward thinking man, interested in advances in science and learning.  So when he wanted his farm land to be turned into a pleasure ground, he brought in the rising star of the day - Humphry Repton to design it.  Without this pair, Warley Woods would have remained practical farm land with some copses of trees on it.

Reason 3: It was almost lost

In the building boom of the early 20th century it would have been so easy for Warley Park to have been built on.  The Galton family hadn't been resident for decades.  The Lightwoods estate next door had been built on and much of the Warley farmland was earmarked for homes.  One man, Alexander Chance decided it should be a park.  He did have supporters and committees, but the more you read about him, the more you realise without his efforts, his ability to influence people, his connections and his own financial contributions, Warley Woods would be bricks and tarmac. 

Reason 4 (or is it 1 million reasons): It was almost lost again

Well, not quite, but certainly in the 1980s and 90s the park became very run down and neglected, as Birmingham City Council reduced budgets and staff down to an absolute minimum.  Infrastructure like paths, benches and bins deteriorated and disappeared.  Trees fell and lay across paths.  Once again local people saw the beauty, the potential and the importance of the space.  They formed Warley Woods Community Trust - raising over £1 million to put everything back in order.  While there is lots of talk about communities running green spaces - there is still nothing quite like the Community Trust operating at this scale, anywhere else in the UK.  If because your green space is run by a charity you think it is normal - think again, it's very special.

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Reason 5:  Warley Woods has Green Flag Award

This means it has been judged independently to be managed to a high standard against 36 criteria.  These include the obvious like clean and well maintained, but also things like health and safety, how welcoming it is, its approach to environmental issues, how it celebrates its heritage, the standard of its management plan, how it communicates with park users and how it involves the community.  Every two years there is a full day's assessment with a site visit by two judges.  In the year between it is "mystery shopped" to ensure standards are being kept up - and that could be any day of the year. 

So you can see why the Trust wanted the Award and why it prizes its high scores.

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Reason 6: To thank those who give their time.

If you haven't voted yet and are still hanging on waiting to be convinced, well why not vote to say thank you to all the volunteers who make sure the site is well managed, who take on the legal responsibilities as Trustees, who litter pick or make sure an event happens.  Yes the Trust has staff, but they are a small team and would not be able to offer 10% of what happens in Warley Woods without the unpaid army of Warley Wooders.

Reason 7: to build future memories

We are all so grateful to those in the past who helped create and then preserve our beautiful place.  They had great foresight.  The future is never certain though and we have to keep working to maintain standards and to sustain the charity, Warley Woods Community Trust, which makes this all happen.  If you want to ensure that Warley Woods is here into the future, for you to visit, build memories and for residents in the future, then please play your part in ensuring that happens.  I hope you have voted by now but if are not a member of the Trust yet, then please take another step; join us and support us in our care for Warley Woods.

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