‘Friends’ chairman fears for its future

Gerry Hird and other Friends of Wilton Park members. The group is struggling to keep its members and they do not have the manpower to run events at the park or look after it properly. Fencing that has been put up to protect the pond has been destroyed by vandals. (d22121152)
Gerry Hird and other Friends of Wilton Park members. The group is struggling to keep its members and they do not have the manpower to run events at the park or look after it properly. Fencing that has been put up to protect the pond has been destroyed by vandals. (d22121152)

If the Friends of Wilton Park loses any more members, it will be in ‘dire straits’.

That’s according to chairman Gerry Hird, who is fearing for the future of the group after membership numbers continued to dwindle over the past year.

The friends group is struggling to man its various events throughout the year due to a lack of manpower, sometimes with only two or three members turning up to help.

Mr Hird is now pleading for new members to come forward, particularly younger people.

He said: “Obviously that’s why the butterfly house has been shut down, because of lack of volunteers: “We can’t run a friends group on half a dozen members.”

He added that despite having signed up members from as far away as Coventry, the group needs active members to keep park events running smoothly.

“We’re not asking people to come into the park every week,” he said.

“I’m just asking for a little bit of help. On event days, going with me to go buy things for the Friends’ stall and help to put it up and man the stall on the day.

“We’re managing but we can’t go on like this.”

Mr Hird added that if things don’t improve next year, he may have to step down as chairman in 2013, and warned the group may collapse altogether as a result.

He said: “The group is going to have to decide whether we can run or not. We have put a lot into the park this year, it would be a shame to let things go.”