top of page

Ford Park Annual Report of 2023

 




Ford Park Annual Report 2023

Trustee and Staff Team Report


Ulverston Ford Park Community Group

Registered Charity (no. 1088106)

 

Introduction:

What is Ford Park?

Ford Park provides a beautiful, 8 acre walled community green space at the heart of Ulverston. In our Victorian-era walled park, we provide popular playing fields that are used for many local events, a natural playground area, kitchen garden with greenhouse, orchards, a plant nursery and a volunteer center. We also have a third-party restaurant on the premises and community meeting room.

 

Why is Ford Park Exceptional? 

Ford Park Community Group formed in 1998 after the County Council announced their intention to sell Ford Park. The community group were given a 30-year lease, with an option to purchase within seven years.  With the help of a loan from the Architectural Heritage Fund, the group purchased Ford Park from Cumbria County Council in 2005. We have been in the process of restoration and development ever since.

When Ford Park Community Group took over Ford Park in 1998, the site was derelict. Buildings were boarded up and deteriorating. Members and volunteers worked hard to repair and redecorate the buildings for occupation and gradually brought the gardens and grounds back into use to provide the excellent community facility that exists today. The loan is now fully re-paid and the park is looking forward to a sustainable future.

 

Ford Park Community Group has secured the future of a major community asset. This demonstrates what local people can do for themselves and provides a very positive example of community enterprise.  The courage and commitment of the original volunteers in taking over such a daunting project has been justified by the considerable community benefits offered by Ford Park today.


Highlights from 2023:

·         A number of successful events has helped us raise significant funds for the charity.

·         Successful applications for funding to Sir John Fisher Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Frieda Scott Trust and more.

·         Projects and new equipment in the park have been obtained with the help of Orsted & CGP (air source heat pump), Bay Wind Energy Community Trust (Solar panels), Townlands (ice cream bike), Ulverston Town Council and more.

·         Established a no-mow area for wildflowers in the park, promoting wildlife and pollinator activity.

·         Ford Park Community Group continues as the nominated charity for the BNI Chapter, ‘The Heart of Lakes’ which generated over £7700 for the charity in 2023.

·         Welcomed a new Gardener, Hazel, in March.

·         Established a new membership package including Park Perks and this helped to increase membership numbers by over 50%.

·         Establishment of the “Beehive” craft shop in the walled garden

·         Quince fruit from the walled garden was used by Shed1 to create an award-winning vodka and a jelly from which some profits are shard with the charity.

 

Look ahead to 2024:

·         A larger schedule of events is planned for 2024 to appeal to a variety of audiences.

·         Begin work on some infrastructural projects including a new community room.

·         Diversify health and well-being opportunities in the Park.

·         A service path along the perimeter wall to give access and to protect the wall from harmful plant growth.

·         An all-weather path around the park to enable year-round usage of the outdoor space.

Future developments in the park:

·         A new community room with better accessibility is being explored with architects

·         A park perimeter path with better accessibility for year-round, all-weather use is hoped to be installed this year

·         Electrical hook up points along the drive to support events and new lighting along the length of the drive

·         Restroom facilities to support events


Update from each Charity Area


Finance:

The charity is currently dependent on grants which are very competitive. Our Grants & Funding Officer, Suzanne, has been tasked with bid-writing and has proved invaluable on this front. She has succeeded in having a number of applications awarded to us, bringing in £73,242 of unrestricted funding in 2023 to help keep the charity functioning along with £14,500 in project specific funding.

Our 2023 spending increased last year by around £15,000 to £163,508 and this was due to grant-funded projects – such as solar panel installation and rain water storage. We now expect 2024 spending to be reduced to a more manageable £138,000. This has been achieved by investing in our future through reducing our utilities and services expenditure, renegotiation of contracts and a reduced wage bill.

Our income outside of grants has been in a better position in 2023 than in 2022 with improved Williams Room hire totalling £10,983 and café rent & service contributions – having been renegotiated in June – totalling £19,321.

Events in 2023 generated £16,198 before costs for the charity, compared with £7700 for 2022. This figure is expected to be around £19,000 in 2024 with the events organised so far.

Full company accounts are available online at Companies House under the registered business number 03989550.







 

 

 

In

Out

Events & Fundraising

16,198

 

Apartment Contributions

2,001

 

Retail

167

 

Grants

87,742

 

Williams Room

10,983

 

Restaurant Rent & Bills

19,321

 

Parking Donations

2,393

 

Memberships

7,066

 

Gift Aid Reimbursement

4000

 

Garden Donations

2,001

 

Total

151871.2

 

Salaries

 

75162

Cumbria Waste

 

4860

Water

 

4740

Phones & Broadband

 

1380

HMRC

 

7482

Cleaners

 

910

Accountants

 

6600

Pensions

 

4500

Electricity

 

9240

NFU Insurance

 

3192

Licenses & Memberships

 

4102

Events

 

9118

Marketing

 

1012

General

 

8337

Garden & Park Expenditure

 

20013

Grass Cutting

 

2860

Total

 

163508

 


The Garden and Nursery

Garden and nursery management is undertaken by Hazel over 3 days per week. This year Hazel has been dedicated to making the garden a vibrant and beautiful space for visitors as well as making the nursery aspect more productive. In 2023, the garden has generated over £2000 – up from £763 in 2022 - and we anticipate this figure to be increased much further in 2024.

A number of events have been held in the garden during 2023 and this has attracted large number of new visitors who we’ve been able to speak to and inform about Ford Park.

Park

Our Park Maintenance Officer, Toby, has been focused on establishing natural spaces within the park and ensuring its tidiness for visitor enjoyment and appreciation. Toby has done a great job in keeping the park and woodland areas as attractive spaces for people to enjoy and for events to benefit from. He has done this through a great deal of work clearing areas such as the woodland spaces and car park, creating more usable and attractive spaces.

The no-mow area has been one of Toby’s main projects in 2023, with the large space left to grow long with paths mown through it for an interactive and aesthetically pleasing feature in the parkland. This year, Toby will be removing much of the grass in order to sow yellowrattle seeds (some of which has been done already) this will help to stave off much of the grass and allow for wildflower seeds and plugs (which were planted in October) to take hold and in the years to come, we hope to have a beautiful wildflower meadow in this area.

The native arboretum was finished in January with the final tree, a Plymouth Pear, being planted with the help of our previous gardener, Val, who had started the project.


Volunteering

Volunteer numbers have increased noticeably from 16 regular volunteers in 2022 up to approximately 24 in 2023. The volunteers have been working in the park and garden and have had an invaluable hand in keeping Ford Park a welcoming and beautiful park for Ulverston.

Volunteers have helped with essential bin emptying, litter picking and weekend watering outside of volunteer sessions, which has been invaluable as well as marshalling for the limited number of events we managed to organise.

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Moray, has worked hard to coordinate the planning of essential jobs and look after volunteer welfare. Moray has walked a number of new volunteers through the induction process, helping them to settle in and feel welcome and also organised a trip in October to Hollinbank Farm to visit the re-wilding project there. Moray continued to maintain relationships with various other organisations, including Growing Well.  We intend to build on these links to support our work and the programme further.


Marketing

Our previous Marketing and Communications Officer, Phil, resigned in March 2023 and we took the decision to not refill the role. The marketing duties have been split across the existing team and we are confident that this has been a good decision based on the positive feedback we have since received on the marketing content. During 2023 we were able to add almost 1000 new facebook followers and increased our Instagram following from 117 to over 590. This has helped us to promote events and fundraising efforts as well as to raise awareness about the park and its charitable status to audiences which we previously struggled to reach.


Membership:

Retention rates for the membership programme seems to have suffered in recent years but the team are considering ways to simplify the programme as well as ways to promote it. This will be done through a better offering of benefits as part of a park membership. During 2023 we were able to add around 50 new members, approximately a 50% increase from 2022.

Currently ~162 memberships


Trustees: 

Retirement:                       Rosemarie Campbell

Appointment:                   N/A

Re-appointment:             Rosemarie Campbell

Thank you to all our staff, trustees, volunteers and supporters, we could not do it without you!


Ford Park is also dependent on our funders; we could not survive without their continued support:

·         Ulverston Town Council

·         Townlands Trust

·         Sir John Fisher Foundation

·         Cumbria Community Foundation

·         The Foyle Foundation

·         Bay Wind Energy Community Trust

·         CGP Books Ltd

·         Orsted

·         Booths Ulverston

·         NFU Mutual Ulverston

·         Frieda Scott Charitable Trust

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page