Sycamore slaughter and a new look for the rockery
Visitors to Avenue House on Sunday 29th Jan were probably slightly bemused to find the park colonised by people wearing blue “volunteer” tabards, but this was our first big garden volunteering day at Avenue House. Twenty adults and seven children worked a 2-hour morning or afternoon shift blitzing some of the many self-set saplings that have sprung up around the grounds. Left to their own devices they will grow up under other trees and cause lots of trouble and expense as they get big, so it’s important to get them out now.
We billed it as a sycamore-slaughtering day, but actually quite a few brambles, alder saplings and other interlopers were hauled out as well. Volunteers looked for plants with a yellow paint streak – the mark of doom – and set to work digging. By the end of the day we were slightly chilly round the edges but lit from within by a warm glow of physical exertion and virtue! We’d created an impressive pile of waste ready for chipping, and worked up an appetite for the box of volunteers’ cakes and flapjack. Everyone had good time (except the sycamores) and there’s lots more stuff to remove, so we’re going to hold another day on Sunday 26th February. Do email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you fancy joining in.
Since the Friends were re-formed in March of last year, we’ve organised well over 500 hours of volunteer work, including 300 hours of litter clearance, which has freed the grounds staff to use their expertise where it’s needed in the gardens. So a very big thank-you to all the lovely people who’ve generously spared time from their busy lives to muck in and help. And, given the amount of muck they’ve got out over the months, we must have the cleanest park in London.
A big difference you’ll notice next time you’re at Avenue House is the replacement of the temporary orange fencing round the rockery and the small hill near the café with wooden pale fencing. The Friends paid for the materials for this job from our subscription funds (thank you too, everyone), which was done by Avenue House staff and volunteers.
… and after
The next AH events to note are the first 2012 opening of the Bothy Garden from 3-5pm on Sunday 5th February, then a FoAH talk on the Livery Companies of London by City guide and expert Yasha Beresiner on Wednesday 29th February, with one of our ever-popular Quiz Nights on Thursday 8th March.
We hope to see you at one or other or all of them!
FoAH Secretary & Volunteering Coordinator
A FAMOUS face hosted an auction night to raise cash for an historic community building in Finchley.
Actor Jack Ellis, who is best known for his TV roles as a prison warder in Bad Girls and a bookmaker in Coronation Street, started the bidding at Avenue House, in East End Road, on Sunday.
Eighty guests helped raise £7,500 which will go towards running the Avenue House estate, which boasts a grade II listed mid-Victorian mansion.
Continue to article in the Times.
A group of Year 6 students sit in the Avenue House stable buildings and listen and intently as fire officers explain to them how to prevent fires in the home and what they need to do when discovering a fire. But this is no dry lecture. The explanation is still under way when they see smoke coming in from under the door of the adjoining stable block. Can they put into practice what they’ve just been told?
Fortunately, on this occasion the smoke is coming from a smoke machine operated by Mark Bloomfield, Fire Station manager at Hendon. But the scenario is typical of the hands-on approach followed in Barnet’s ‘Junior Citizens Scheme’.
This four-week long event has been held in Avenue House since 2004. Each day in June, groups of pupils from schools across Barnet come to Avenue House to take part in a series of interactive scenarios all on the general theme of personal safety. The scheme is led by Barnet Police, who join with the London Fire Service, London Ambulance Service and Transport for London to run the different scenarios. The scenarios cover such essential areas as basic first aid, ‘stranger danger’, safe use of buses and the underground, and giving details as a witness. This year the session organizers were joined by Amey, who run a session on the correct way to use roadside traffic crossings.
At the end of their half-day, all the participants gather together to watch an interactive play presented by youth theatre group Jigsaw Art on the theme of knife crime. The pupils get the chance to ask the three characters why they carry a knife and the session leads into a lively discussion of the repercussions of carrying offensive weapons. The children’s total concentration and involvement throughout is absolutely remarkable, especially given their age and the size of the group.
The sessions are managed by Safer Schools Sergeant Andy Taylor. He explained to me that during the course of the month, approximately 2500 pupils from over 50 schools in Barnet participate, meaning that over the course of two years virtually all the schools in the Borough will have taken part.
I asked Andy why they had originally chosen Avenue House for the event and why they come back year after year. He explained that there were two main reasons.
First, Avenue House was a tremendous venue for the event because of the variety of indoor and outdoor settings it could provide for the different scenarios to take place in. Also, the lack of background noise meant that instructions could be given clearly, and the scenario leaders and children are free from distractions.
Secondly, Avenue House has always provided fantastic support to him and his team. ‘They really care about the success of the event and this shows in how willing they are to help us out in many different ways.’ The appreciation is mutual. Estate Manager Janett Durrant told me that she has always enjoyed working with Andy and his team and regards establishing Avenue House as the venue for the Junior Citizen Event as the thing she is most proud of during her time as manager.
The fact that the event takes place at Avenue House each summer is a powerful illustration of how the Estate is run to serve the local community. The Junior Citizens Scheme is a link between Avenue House and the community that would surely have surprised Henry Stephens, but it would also have reassured him that his legacy was continuing to achieve its purpose.
This is our first blog since the site went live and there is much to say and to update the community about.
First off, I must thank Jayson of Brace Design again for all his work on this site for a much-reduced fee. Jayson devotes a proportion of his time to community work and we are very fortunate that he was able to work for us on this occasion. As ever with such a project, there have been some technical hitches since just before and after launch. But Brace Design have stayed with us and continue to work on the Friends of Avenue House website until it is fully functional and does all the things we want it to do for a community website and for such a beautiful and highly-valued local amenity.
We are still working on MailChimp – the mail service that will allow us to send out information to those interested in Avenue House – and the Members Area – where our more formal stuff will be posted for members of the Friends – and hope to have these features sorted out in the next few weeks.
I hope you have been receiving the newsletters from Andy Savage, the recently elected Chair of Avenue House Trustees. Andy has been working closely with Janett Durrant and the rest of the Trustees to see the Estate through the summer and arrange things properly for Janett’s retirement and the arrival of the new General Manager, Lance Bourne. We aim to post Andy’s regular newsletters here on this site as they are a great way of communicating the details and colour of his work, the work of the Trustees and all those associated with Avenue House and Estate.
There have been two recent events at the House: The Party in the Park, at which Barnet Band played and Pimms and strawberries were served; and the Film Night last week at which historic films of London were enjoyed immensely by an audience of over 40 people. We would like to instigate Film Nights as a regular occurence and are looking into this.
If anyone would like to offer reviews of events they have attended at Avenue House or in the Grounds, please get in touch with us.
The next major event is the North London Hospice fete in the Grounds on Sunday 24th. Please support this important charity – by coming along and enjoying yourself!
Volunteering on the Avenue House Estate has developed at a cracking pace since we started in April – you may have seen some of us working in our blue tabards. Around 30 people have volunteered so far, some for an hour here or there, and some more regularly. We welcome any and all help we can get. Between us we’ve already done the equivalent of 4 weeks’ work by a paid member of staff, so volunteering helps reduce costs as well as keeping the gardens neat and tidy.
The lion’s share of our work so far has been picking up litter twice a week using rather swish litter-grabbers (so not much bending over). We’ve cleared a great deal of old rubbish that was lurking in the shrubberies and under the bushes and we’re keeping abreast of the new. Of course we wish no-one would drop litter, but spotting unnaturally shiny or odd-shaped items hiding among the greenery is surprisingly good fun, and seeing the gardens spick and span after our efforts is thoroughly satisfying.
Since May, volunteers have also been gardening on the Estate every Sunday afternoon from 2.00-4.00pm. So far, we’ve cut down all the suckers from the wing-nut tree on the Middle Green, disposed of numerous brambles, replanted the flowerbed in the car park, weeded a number of tree-pits (the patches of clear soil around tree trunks) and tidied the Terrace and steps. There’s enough work to keep any number of volunteers busy through the summer and autumn, and you don’t have to be an experienced gardener to be useful.
Email email@example.com if you’re interested in joining us or just come to the kiosk at the appropriate time:
11.00am on Wednesdays or 11.30am on Sundays.
2.00-4.00pm on Sundays for gardening (wear long trousers and sturdy shoes).
The Trustees of the Avenue House Estate Trust are pleased to announce the appointment of Lance Bourne to the role of General Manager of the Avenue House Estate Trust. Lance will take up the post on August 15th, following Janett Durrant’s retirement from the post of Chief Executive.
Lance has considerable experience in the management of corporate entertainment sites: he spent 15 years at the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, rising to the post of head of Marketing and Events, followed by three years as Business Manager of the Tower Bridge exhibition. Lance also has experience at working with volunteers and at fund-raising.
Andy Savage, Chairman of the Avenue House Estate Trust, says: ‘I am delighted that Lance has agreed to join us. His skill set is exactly what Avenue House needs at this time, and I am sure that he will be a worthy successor to Janett Durrant, who has managed the Estate since the Trust’s formation nine years ago. I am looking forward to working with Lance as we establish Avenue House in the centre of the Finchley community’
Lance Bourne said ’I am looking forward to joining Avenue House, and working on the Estate. Apart from the wonderful surrounds, I am looking forwards to helping increase the use of the Estate, and to continuing the re-establishment of its financial success after the problems earlier this year’
The newly formed Friends Of Avenue House held an open day to promote the cash-strapped Victorian mansion on Sunday.
The free afternoon of entertainment entitled Tours, Trees And Teas helped raise almost £5,000 for the grade-II listed building in East End Road, East Finchley, which was entrusted to the authorities from Henry Charles “Inky” Stephens in 1918 as a facility for residents of the area.
Continue to article in Barnet Today.
CELEBRITIES joined hundreds of residents at an open day in aid of saving a historic community building in Finchley from closure.
Harry Potter star, Imelda Staunton and her husband, Jim Carter who recently played the butler in ITV’s drama Downton Abbey, were amongst a 400-strong crowd who attended Avenue House in East End Road on Sunday.
Continue to article in The Times.
Tuesday 1st March: A meeting was called by concerned residents of Finchley to resurrect the “Friends of Avenue House”.
Around 7:30pm, Sandra Rebak chaired a meeting of over forty residents to set up a reformed Friends of Avenue House and raise funds for AHET. (the Avenue House Estate Trust.)
Continue to article in The Finchley Arrow.