FoPP Wreathmaking 2nd and 3rd December

A reminder that FoPP will be running wreathmaking sessions this weekend at The Rockery. The FoPP team has sourced the necessary materials needed to make a beautiful, seasonal wreath. If you want to come along and make your own wreath or to buy a bundle to take home, please come and join us. We will provide foliage, a wire base and additional wire to keep everything in place. We suggest coming early to get the best foliage, although we will do this over two days so that everyone gets a chance to make one. We apologise that the venue is not wheelchair accessible.

Book your tickets at the below Eventbrite pages:

Saturday 2nd December, 10am to 1pm

Sunday 3rd December, 10am to 1pm

FoPP Annual General Meeting

Once again, the Friends of Preston Park (FoPP) held their annual AGM at St Peter’s Cricket Clubhouse. Following on from usual business, the Chair, Kerry Pickett gave a run down on events held within the park over the past year and provided an impression of what might be expected for 2024. Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and to offer advice regarding possible future events. Treasurer, Janet Laing also presented an update on FoPP’s current financial position.

We took the opportunity to announce this year’s winners of the photographic competition which was based around the subject of trees. We had some amazing submissions, and it took quite an effort to choose. However, the general public voted on what they appreciated and so first place went to Neil Jakeman, second to Jimmy Guest and third place to, Victoria Jenkins. Copies of the winners’ photos are below and will be displayed outside the Chalet Café in Preston Park.   

Finally, we had Dr Danahar, a local biodiversity educationalist, to give us a presentation on butterfly conservation. Dan has led a number of local initiatives within the city of Brighton & Hove, including persuading the public to count butterflies, which in turn inspired the national charity Butterfly Conservation to develop the Big Butterfly Count.

He has also introduced Butterfly Havens as a habitat restoration approach for chalk grassland butterflies, giving the public access to nature on their doorsteps. Local examples include the bank between Varndean College and Dorothy Stringer, as well the land to the north of Varndean college. However, Dan’s work is also international in nature. He is Executive Trustee of the charitable company Big Nature –, which aims to revitalise the relationship between people and their local wildlife by creating natural habitats within the UNESCO designated Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere region (The Living Coast).

Dan was able to outline the beginnings of his work and how he envisages it expanding should the current political climate and will, allow it. For more information on Dan’s work please visit: http://the or look him up on YouTube. We thank Dan for taking time to visit us and explain the hugely important work that he is doing.

The committee will meet early in 2024 to discuss possible events for the year. A new poster will be created and displayed on the website and on the boards in Preston Park. Anyone interested in volunteer gardening or donating to our community cause can do so on the FoPP website:

ReNature grants are launched

Grants of up to £25,000 can be applied for as part of a new funding initiative to help kickstart habitat creation for wildlife.

ReNature Grants will help projects that showcase positive management for nature in the community. Projects could creating wildflower meadows, heathland, hedgerow, areas managed as chalk grassland, more natural rivers or dewponds. The grants can also be used to improve existing habitat, such as improving rivers and streams.

Funding of between £2,000 and £25,000 can be applied for from the South Downs Trust, the official independent charity for the National Park. Sites must be within the National Park boundary and not managed for nature, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Local Authorities, parish councils, community-interest companies, charities, and constituted voluntary groups are invited to apply.

The scheme is part of the National Park’s ReNature campaign, which is seeking to create 13,000 hectares of new habitat – an area over three times the size of Portsmouth – by 2030 to help tackle biodiversity loss in the UK. Victoria Crespi, Grants Officer for the National Park, said: “We’re really excited to be launching this new grants initiative to bring a boost for wildlife conservation. There are lots of organisations out there that might be interested in getting involved in the ReNature campaign and have land that could become a haven for nature. A grant could be the stepping stone to putting those ideas into action and making a real difference. Applications will be judged on their proposed outcomes for biodiversity, value for money and ongoing management of the site, as well as community outcomes. A grant panel will decide on applications over £5,000.”

Applications close at midnight on Friday, 15 December 2023. Find out more and apply here.

FoPP Halloween Parade

A very wet and windy FoPP Halloween was attended by some brave children this year. Despite the weather, those who came along had a lovely time and were entertained by Holly and Georgia who teach at Stagecoach Haywards Heath. There were lots of games and competitions and the kids were taught some great dance routines to impress their friends with! The parade, lit with pumpkin lights was a delightful spectacle.

FoPP would like to thank the Chalet Cafe for remaining open during the event and BHCC for keeping the toilets open for everyone.

With the arrival of lightning, we had a rush to clear the area but we hope that our young residents had a happy, albeit a soaking wet, Halloween! 

FoPP Rose Garden Community Book Swap Box

The FoPP opened their Rose Garden Community Book Swap Box this week. The aim of the box is to encourage residents to take a book and either return it or replace it with another book. We have a number of LGBTQIA+ books and would like to thank and recommend  Kemptown Bookshop for their help and for giving us a good deal on some lovely new books. If anyone has a large group of books to donate please contact us at:

It is hoped that we will also have a children’s book swap in place soon. So please come along and get reading!

(Please note that the box has been temporarily removed as we had a problem with the door. It will be back in place shortly.)

Preston Park Bat Walk

Residents joined Friends of Preston Park recently in Preston Park for a bat walk experience. Nick Lane and Ranger Marie Ingledew were on hand to explain the habits of a variety of native and non-native bats whilst we used bat sound detectors to try and identify those living within the park grounds. Unfortunately, the weather was rather damp and many of our bat friends decided to hide away for the evening. That said, we still enjoyed an evening of bat related poetry, funny stories, guessing games, and the flit of a few less rain hating Pipistrelles. Well done, to the younger members who came along to ask some more interesting questions. We hope that the weather will be kinder next year!

Our next mini event will be the opening of our new community book swap on Sunday, 22 October, 12.00 – 14.00, in the Rose Garden. Please come along and see what we have to offer.

Our next main event is Halloween, on Saturday, 28 October, 18.00 – 19.30. Please sign up for this on Eventbrite, via our website.

The Lavender Walk

Friends of Preston Park volunteers prepared the Lavender Walk for the winter, weeding and giving a light prune to the bushes, cutting the overgrown ivy, honeysuckle and jasmin. There is much more gardening work to be done, so please join us next Tuesday at 10 am at the Rockery Chalet.

Our lovely team

A very busy Sunday morning in the Rose Garden

One of the great pleasures in working as a volunteer gardener is learning tips such as planting and pruning as well as helping shrubs and flowers grow happily by weeding, deadheading and mulching. On Sunday 1st October we had our first monthly Sunday morning session and enjoyed clearing some of the overgrown thistle and bindweed from the Rose Garden beds.

Why not join us for our next session on Sunday 5th November and meet our wonderful team of volunteers.

Autumn is an exciting time to come and learn how to prepare flowerbeds for the winter, and you can apply to your own garden the knowledge acquired.

Before and after.