The Brent River & Canal Society (BRCS), which campaigned and saw the creation of the Brent River Park in the 1970s has marked its 50th anniversary at a special AGM at Open Ealing, exactly 50 years after the adoption of its constitution in 1973.
The society, founded by Hanwell residents, husband and wife, Luke and Kay FitzHerbert, was created with the objective of creating a linear park to follow the course of the River Brent.
At the time in 1973, much of the parkland was fenced off, full of rubbish and not accessible to the community.
Mr FitzHerbert wanted to change that and a BRCS campaign led to the creation of the Brent River Park by Ealing Council in 1975. Other green spaces were gradually added until it reached its current extent in 1985.
On 7 January 2007, Mr FitzHerbert was tragically killed in a traffic accident in Northamptonshire.
Earlier this month, on 13 September 2023 Ealing Council announced its intention to extend the Brent River Park as part of its Regional Park initiative, which has been welcomed by the BRCS but also left them somewhat baffled, as the park was already recognised as a Regional Park by Ealing Council in 2009.
According to the charity, his legacy and vision for Brent River Park continues for the benefit of wildlife and the community.
His wife, Kay FitzHerbert, travelled from her home in Devon to attend the 50th anniversary AGM.
Nic Ferriday, the BRCS chair for the past 25 years, stood down and was elected as president while Phil Belman was elected as the new chair.
Kay FitzHerbert, and former trustees Mary Hall and Jenny Valance were all recognised for their contributions and support for the BRCS over the years and were honoured by being elected as vice presidents.
Ellie Lock, a teacher at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, was elected as a new trustee, and wildlife writer and conservationist Kabir Kaul, was co-opted as special adviser to the charity.
The meeting reviewed its current campaigns, the three most prominent being the Warren Farm Nature Reserve campaign, Save Gurnell and Clean Up the River Brent (CURB). According to BRCS. there has been an increase in the work they do and the BRCS has seen its membership almost double over the past year. New president Nic Ferriday commented: “The society is on the up!”
After the meeting, Kay FitzHerbert cut a commemorative cake, made in the triangular shape of the Brent River Park logo, created by local Ealing cake–maker, Pippa Martinson.
Phil Belman pledged to continue the campaign started by Luke FitzHerbert and to push for the expansion of the Brent River Park.
He said: “The BRCS has achieved much over the past 50 years. You only have to walk along the River Brent to see that. But there is still much more to do. We will continue to campaign against the scandalous pollution of the river and for the protection of the green spaces alongside it.”
Mr Belman added: “The pandemic and the climate and ecological emergency have renewed people’s interest in the Brent River Park and our membership has increased as a result. I am looking forward to building on Nic’s work and continuing the momentum of our campaigns.”