The History of the Group timeline
In 2001 there were concerns amongst local residents living around the park about the state of it. The 70/80’s budget’s cuts had taken it’s toll on a once vibrant open space. Gangs of youth had taken over the park where the old greenhouses (once the jewels in the crown) had been previously situated, the site had been turned into a rubbish dump. Residents whose houses backed onto the dump complained of seeing big rats when they opened their back door.
Councillors set up a meeting in early spring for local people to air their views at the sledmere centre. The meeting was well attended and people were very concerned indeed and the meeting got very heated in some cases. Four local residents volunteered to set up the group. The first AGM was held 4 months later on June 23rd of the same year at Sledmere school.
2001 Chris Gammon (chair) Owen Nettleford (Secretary) Stephen Briscoe (Treasurer) Sally Ann Wright (Vice Chair) the groups impacts was immediate:-
- Bushes around the outside of the park cut back.
- Benches moved from troubled areas.
- Instrumental in attracting sure start to build their new family centre on the park rubbish dump.
- Story time sessions aimed at young children and mothers.
- commissioning the parks master plan.
A few positive headlines in the local press gave the park a much needed lift.
Towards the end of 2001 Chris Gammon announced he was stepping down as chairman and then Owen Nettleford followed.
- Bike Day and other events held on an annual basis up to 2009 and other environmental projects.
- Trip rail around the world park (Transforming your space funding)
- New barriers (Transforming your space funding)
- Completion of the park master plan (community funding)
- New play area (liveability funding)
- new benches (liveability funding)
- new multi games area (Wren funding)
- Improvements to Grazebook Park.
- St Thomas’s games
- Park watch (Rolled out in 2005)
Steve and sally and the group decided to carry on and carried on with master plan project and sure start, other members came forward to replace Chris and Owen. Nikki freeman had been helping Sally with the story time sessions and became good friends became the group secretary Sally agreed to become chairperson Steve stayed on as treasurer, Janet Wimlett went to vice chair.
The group changed it’s meeting place too in this period moving from Owen’s advice centre in Dixons green road to the old sons of rest building on the park. The place was something out of a bygone age but steeped in Buffery history.
- There were still major issues in the park like burnt out cars 6 in 7 days at one point it was the silly season.
- the success of the group was getting noticed Borough wide. Dudley MBC were keen to use the groups model to attract funding for the rest of the Borough Parks from the government. A hand full of new groups started up and founded the Friends for the rest of the park forum. Priory, Lesowes. Mary Stevens, Buffery Stevens park were the founder members. The forum is still going strong today giving local communities a say about their local parks with over 35 parks now as well as allotments.
- park improvements 2002-2009.
St Thomas’s Games
The games were the brain child of Local ward councilor Shaukat Ali. Who’s idea as to bring the community together through sport. It was at the time of the 2012 Olympics. The games were held every 3 years leading up to the London event.
All the local schools took part Sledmere, kates Hill and Blowers Green and Castle High. The games usually co in-sided with the annual bike event so T-shirts and meddles were all given out. the opening ceremony started in stone St Dudley and ended up at Dudley castle where a flame was lit to start the games, all sports were tackled football, cricket, swimming and much more.
The last one coincided with the groups carnival event in 2012 which was well attended. Maybe one day there will be another games we hope.
- Bulb planting event down Grazebrook park 2008 and tree planting in 2006 on Buffery.
2010 AGM: current committee- Steve Briscoe (Chairman) Lynn Horton (Secretary)
Samantha Dalton (Treasurer) Jeremy Westley (Vice Chair).
• Website 2010
• New tennis facility (Biffa ward) 2011
• Regeneration of the Sons of Rest building (Tesco donation and other funding sauces)
• Outdoor Gym ( Ibstock Cory) 2013
• Charity status (2011)
• Green flag award (2016)
• Grazebrook cross (war memorial trust) 2016
• Disabled benches 2012
• Community events (2011-2016)
• Green team 2014
• Top friends group in the Dudley Borough 2012,2013,2015
Towards the end of 2008 there was a sea change in park funding the emphasis was moving from Government funding to individual group funding and social enterprise .The new chairman saw this coming and was ready for the new challenges ahead. Money to fund park events was cut back dramatically and aimed at hub and large town parks only. So there were no events on Buffery for nearly two years.
A building from Buffery’s rich past was the key to its future the Sons of Rest building!
In 2006 Bowling club group chairman Jack Freeman originally approached the group about help finding funding to improve the building. Sadly the bowling club left the park in 2007 there was some talk of taking the building many years. Problem was the building was in a terrible state of repair . Meetings had been cancelled due to heating breaking down, the centre was always an easy target for graffiti and vandalism. In 2010 the new committee contacted Law and property regarding taking on some type of lease which would save the building from certain closure or possible demolition in the future.
Later in the year MP Ian Austin had approached supermarket chain Tesco for a donation to help restore the building and was successful in getting a donation of 10,000 pounds. Initially the group was split on which way to take the lease on the building. When Lynn came on board because she had a positive view of the potential and persuaded Stephen and the group to take a long term lease, as it would be easier to get potential funds to improve it.
Stephen who at the time was into social media placed advertisement for people to hire the building to gain funding to improve it. A few weeks later 4 people contacted the group who were interested in setting up a centre for people with learning difficulties (who latter formed a company called Park View Ltd) who took an immediate shine to the Sons of rest building and could see the potential .They also liked the groups long term vision for the building and the park. Latter Dudley spiritualist church signed up too and both organisations have gone from strength to strength over the years .
The building is also used by the local community for meeting’s , birthday parties, over 50’s club and a youth club at one point.
Money from the centre have helped to fund a number of projects including the outdoor gym and the new recently restored Memorial cross at Grazebrook park as well as community events .
2013 The group changed the name of the building to the Buffery Paradise Centre in 2012 for commercial reasons.
2010 Lynn Horton joins the group, the first person who had no previous connection with the park or the group’s past. She came from a business background which has proved to be an advantage. Lynn’s first day helping the group was spring cleaning the old Sons Of Rest building and has been at the for front of group development ever since. In 2016 she was nominated at the national Love Parks awards
2012 New Tennis court and disabled benches are installed early in the year.
– Spring clean-up of the park
– The Queens diamond jubilee event held in May
– Buffery Carnival held in July over 3000 people attended the event
– Group win top group at the Green Spaces awards
– The Mayor of Dudley officially opened the new Tennis court in October
2013 Bulb planting event held in April
-The big toddle event was held in May in partnership with the Children’s centre
-Buffery Carnival held in July
-Tennis coaching session’s in the summer holidays.
-Group win top group again at the Green spaces awards
-Community BBQ was held in September (400 turn up and we run out of food)
-New outdoor Gym was installed at the beginning of October.
2014 : Family fun day promoting physical activates for the family over 4000 attended which included a big skateboard ramp which took 3 hours to build
Summer Fayre this event was postponed due to thunder storms and latter rescheduled
The friends group and the centre were featured on Midlands Today in July.
Summer Sport’s various 4 weeks of sports run daily for the local community over the summer holidays
Green team formed to compliment the Green Care work undertaken on the park.
Grazebrook Cross photo discovered down the Dudley Archive.
Family fun day organised following the success of the previous year over 5000 people turned up and the weather too. It was a lot bigger with a Dog show run by K9 charity and a big stage added .
The group work in partnership with Dudley College for a project called visions of Grazebrook some great ideas came out of the project.
Group win the top award for the 3rd time at the Green spaces awards
Friends group and the children’s centre work in partnership to provide 2 weeks of fun and games held at the Paradise centre.
Community payback team work in partnership with the group to work on run down areas of the park.
Lenny Henry finally meets the group at the paradise centre
Santa in the park Christmas event takes place in December.
The friends mission has always been to improve the facilities on the park and make it accessible to ALL members of the community and that mission continues