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Park has new Friends group

Supporters of a Bognor Regis park have vowed to continue to back the valued open space.

 

A four-strong committee of the new Friends of Hotham Park was immediately formed this week after the dissolution of the previous charity which boosted the park’s amenities.

 

Park user Graham Cook was unanimously voted as the initial chairman of the Friends.

 

He told a packed meeting on Wednesday:

 

“I have used the park for 20 years. I walk there regularly. I have a passion for the park and I love the park.”

 

Mr Cook, 54, of Glamis Street, later said: “I have seen everything that has changed about the park – from the stagnant Rainbow’s End (theme park) to what it is now.

 

“The park is part of my life and it is extremely important to Bognor Regis. It’s a portal between Butlin’s and the town.”

 

He said he hoped to continue the popular events which the previous Hotham Park Heritage Trust had staged.

 

These include the summer country fair – which attracted an estimated 12,000 visitors last August – Carols in the Park and the summer bandstand music concerts. But the future programme will be discussed at the initial meetings of the Friends’ committee.

 

The first will be held in about two weeks and will include a vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer. These positions were quickly filled at the inaugural meeting after votes of the some 50 members present. But the individuals in the roles could change as the Friends go through their first year.

 

The voluntary charitable organisation was formed at the meeting following the end of the heritage trust.

 

The charity was formed in 1999 to succeed a Friends of Hotham Park House from the 1970s and has played a major role in improving the park for the enjoyment of its many visitors.

 

The trust’s final annual meeting, held at the Regis Centre, attracted some 70 people. Chairman Ann Cranham said it had been impossible for the five trustees to carry on.

 

“As always, we have tried to attract more members and volunteers – a universal cry from all community groups, I know – because it has continued to be a decreasing small core of loyal workers keeping the trust going,” she said.

 

But the trustees were confident the results of the hard work of the past 20 years, starting with a £2.2m lottery grant, would be long remembered.

 

“The marvellous work that the trust has achieved over the years will never be forgotten. It is there for all to see.

 

“I hope that the care and protection of Hotham Park will continue with renewed vigour and wish every success to the future management team,” she said.

 

It was estimated at the meeting the trust had spent some £150,000 on the park. The good relations with Arun District Council, the park’s owner, were praised and the Friends hoped that the positive relationship would continue.

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