It’s been a busy and exciting year for Milton Keynes and, not least, for the city’s beautiful parks, river valleys and woodlands which have been enjoyed by a record number of residents over the past 12 months.
The uplift of interest in the outdoors that was driven by Covid-19 did not taper off as life adjusted to post-pandemic levels. In fact, The Parks Trust, the charity that cares for over 6,000 acres of Milton Keynes’ green space, has reported even greater use of the parks during its 30th birthday year.
A total of 194,000 people took part in activities and events in the city’s parks in 2022 (2019: 180,000). These included over 1,800 runs, walks, talks, fitness sessions, concerts and community get-togethers, as well as national commemorations for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June and, three months later, her memorial.
Throughout the year, The Parks Trust continued its ongoing programme of outreach which included training for a diverse range of community groups who learned how to host events in the parks.
What’s more, around 14,600 local school children – around double pre-Covid levels - boosted their environmental knowledge by participating in open days, outdoor sessions and assemblies run by the charity’s Outdoor Learning team.
The Trust expanded its Operations team in 2022 to help keep pace with increasing landscaping and maintenance work, and to bring litter cleansing in-house. The team’s work this year has included the collection of many tonnes of waste as well as the planting of new trees – some of which were grown from acorns by local residents.
In October 2022, the National Lottery-funded restoration of the historic Great Linford Manor Park was completed, bringing this much-loved heritage site back to life for all to enjoy. A ceremony marking the occasion was attended by the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Amanda Marlow.
The year also saw continued national recognition for Milton Keynes’ parks. In July, the charity was awarded two accolades from the prestigious Green Flag awards scheme and, in August, Great Linford Manor Park and Willen Lake were included among the nation’s favourite parks. In the same month, Radio 4’s iconic Gardener’s Question Time chose The Parks Trust as host for two of its shows with tickets selling out in minutes.
CEO, Victoria Miles MBE, joined the charity in May after the retirement of David Foster. Commenting on the past year, Victoria said, “Our 30th birthday year has been a bumper one and everyone’s hard work has enabled local residents to really make the most out of the city’s wonderful green spaces. I am grateful to our colleagues, volunteers, trustees and partners for the dedication and support they offer to our charity. I look forward to 2023 and our exciting plans for the year ahead.”