It was a lucky day for the Friends when Julie joined us! Here she describes the surprise gift which turned into years of commitment and fun.
‘We moved to Swindon on 1980 and soon found our way to Lydiard Park. I immediately fell in love with the House but didn’t know anything about the Friends of Lydiard Park. I was delighted to find this limited edition print by Stuart James which hangs proudly in my house.
As a family when the children were growing up, we used the park regularly. I worked for ten years at Freshbrook Primary School and was also able to see how the local schools made use of the Park.
Some years later a colleague gifted me an annual membership of the Friends of Lydiard Park for my birthday. Wanting to find out more I attended the Annual Meeting. Denys Hodson, the then chair, asked if anyone would volunteer to be secretary as the Friends were without one. I didn’t put my hand up immediately but came away and thought about it. I wrote Denys a letter and we met up one lunch time. He gave me an overview of the work of the Friends and invited me to attend a trustee meeting. That was October 2010! I was able to fit the duties around my job as a Primary School Bursar.
In 2013 I took on the treasurer’s role while the current treasurer was on maternity leave. The treasurer was not able to continue working the role around her job and new family so I have carried it on. In May 2018 I was honoured to be asked to join as a Trustee.
Many of you will know me from the summer outings that I have delight in organising and the Annual Meetings and Christmas Parties. It is always a pleasure to meet so many of the Friends at our face-to-face events and I have made many new friends. Strawberry Hill in July 2021 was very enjoyable. Any suggestions for 2022?
Since retiring Martin and I have spent more time visiting the park and investigating parts we hadn’t ventured into before. Martin has a passion for photography and has taken many pictures of Lydiard. There is always plenty to see throughout the seasons. We particularly like to see the snowdrops, the flowers in the Walled Garden and the leaves changing colour. However, there are also some gems hidden away. In Autumn 2021 we concentrated on finding different fungi and were surprised at how many we could find.
Being a volunteer at first, and then a Trustee, has given me a better understanding of Lydiard. There is a wealth of knowledge amongst the Trustees from the family history, the displays within the House, the restoration work carried out in the Park and the architecture of the House. Hopefully a lot of this is now more widely available to the Friends and the wider population through our new Lydiard Archive website.
The Friends are an important part of Lydiard. We want more and more people to enjoy the House and Park. Whether you are interested in the history, architecture or just like to explore the Park. We aim to keep Lydiard alive and to protect it.’