A familiar face steps back from green thumb role

A familiar face steps back from green thumb role

A familiar face who helps keep Telford Town Park looking its best is taking off his gardening gloves as he resigns as chairman of a popular voluntary group.

Chris Pettman has retired from his role at Friends of Telford Town Park (FOTTP) after 18 years at the helm – but he will continue to be a volunteer with the group.

The 82-year-old, who has been a member of the Friends for 20 years, has stepped down to spend more time with his family including his wife Brenda, 79, four children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren – soon to welcome a fifth.

Chris has been cultivating the group that tends to the Chelsea and Maxell Cherry Gardens in the award-winning park with the help of Telford & Wrekin Council’s park rangers.

Under Chris’ leadership, the group have won three awards from Fields in Trust, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and had a hand in securing Telford being voted the UK’s Best Park in 2015 and Best Park in the West Midlands on a number of occasions.

Chris said:

“It has been an honour to lead the group for so many years.

“We have a small but dedicated group of volunteers who actively work on the grounds each week and they have been a pleasure to work with.

“I have seen many changes in my time as chairman and seen the group grow and grow, it is amazing to look back on what we have achieved throughout these years and I have many fond memories I can treasure from my time as chairman.

“Brenda and I recently celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary and I am looking forward to spending more time with her and the wider family.”

Chris helped celebrate the group’s 20th-anniversary last year and has overseen the organisation and implementation of new features, gates and gardens, restoring flower beds, bird boxes and historic ruins and moving statues, gardens and even time capsules across the 170-hectare park.

Alongside the council’s park rangers and contractors, the FOTTP have unearthed archaeological finds, won campaigns to stop development and created murals to celebrate royal jubilees and coronations.

After six years of campaigning the Friends saved the QE2 Arena by helping it get protected by Fields in Trust (formerly The National Playing Fields Association) in 2011.

Chris edited and helped publish two new guides to the park, created a unique map and worked with the public litter picking, worked on a scheme to help 16-24-year-olds learn skills to help get a job and launched Friends 4 Health where GPs across Telford can socially prescribe joining the Friends.

He also stood as chairman while the group started the much-loved Santa Run in 2005 which has raised thousands of pounds over the years for the RNIB, Guide Dogs and Midlands Air Ambulance.

Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, Councillor Shaun Davies, and Councillor Carolyn Healy, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Green Spaces, Natural and Historic Environment and Cultural Services.

They wrote:

“You have chaired the group with dedication, enthusiasm, and energy, and have been a true friend to the park and the local community.

“You have initiated and organised many successful events that have brought people together and encouraged visitors to explore more of the park.

“Your hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed.  You will be greatly missed, but the lasting legacy you leave will be remembered.

“Thank you, Chris, for everything you have done for the park.”

Chris Pettman and Adrian Smith.

Incoming chairman Adrian Smith added:

“Chris has left very big boots to fill as he was a dedicated and passionate chairman of our group.

“I feel I have learnt from the best and I just hope I can have the same impact he has had during my time as chairman.

“He will be sorely missed and the group of volunteers send Chris our very best on his retirement from this role and hope he has more time to spend with his family or in the garden – whether his own or that of Telford Town Park!”

There are 40 members of FOTTP and around 16 who regularly work on the gardens each week, meeting every Wednesday morning.

For more information or to join them visit their website: www.friendsoftelfordtownpark.org/ or follow them on Facebook.