A team of green-fingered volunteers who dedicate more than 300 working days each year preserving and protecting Gillespie Park have helped it to win Islington’s first Green Flag Award in a decade.
The borough’s largest nature reserve was described by judges as the “ecological gem of Islington” with a “rich and diverse range of native plants and fauna”, noting that it “would not exist in its current form” without the tireless input of the Friends of Gillespie Park.
It is the first time since 2009 that Gillespie Park has received the award – a coveted international quality standard for parks and green spaces. Judges commended the council-run nature reserve for its “impressive focus on ecology”, helping to create a “very inviting park” that is “a green oasis in the heart of London”.
The nature conservation volunteers dedicate around 2,500 hours per year helping Gillespie Park’s staff maintain the perfect conditions that allow 244 species of plants, 94 species of birds and 24 types of butterfly to thrive.
The Green Flag Award accreditation follows Gillespie Park being named Best Neighbourhood Park in the country in industry magazine Horticulture Week’s Custodian Awards. Elsewhere, two other parks in the borough – Paradise Park and Arlington Square – have also received Green Flag Community Awards for their community involvement and environmental management.
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, celebrated the Green Flag Award accreditations with the Friends group and staff at Gillespie Park on Wednesday.
She said: “We are delighted that three of our parks have achieved the prestigious Green Flag quality mark, recognising that they are among the very best in the UK and beyond. Best of all, everyone can enjoy these valuable spaces – which benefit both our physical and mental health – for free.
“I would like to thank all of our hard-working nature conservation volunteers and the Friends of Gillespie Park, who work incredibly hard alongside our staff to enhance and protect the precious wildlife in this oasis of calm in the city.
“With less green space here than any other London borough, I am proud that so many Islington residents echo our determination to make our beautiful parks and nature reserves the best they can be and promote ecological diversity, with a range of events and activities throughout the summer and beyond.”
Sue Jandy, chair of the Friends of Gillespie Park, said: “The award of the prestigious Green Flag recognises and rewards the dedication of the staff and volunteers who work in Gillespie Park. We hope that this award encourages more people in our community to discover and enjoy the park.”
The accreditations mean all three parks will proudly fly the Green Flag and display a plaque marking the achievement.
It also gives a timely boost to the London National Park Festival, celebrating capital’s status as the first National Park City in the world.
The nine-day event started on Saturday and local events include the Kids Olympics in Caledonian Park on 22 July and the Go Islington Festival on 27 July.
Notes to editor
More information on Islington’s events and opportunities to connect with nature and enjoy free outdoor activities can be found at https://islingtonlife.london/things-to-do/londons-national-park-city-festival-events/