Forestry Commission gives green space consultant Peter Wilkinson posthumous award

Parks and green infrastructure consultant Peter Wilkinson has been given a posthumous award in honour of his services to forestry and green space.

Ella and Max Wilkinson (centre) collect the award. Image: Forestry Commission/Mayor of London
Ella and Max Wilkinson (centre) collect the award. Image: Forestry Commission/Mayor of London

The Forestry Commission's London Tree and Woodland Awards, held at City Hall, London last week, awarded Wilkinson a Special Award, given by FC chair Sir Harry Studholme and London deputy mayor of environment and energy Shirley Rodrigues

Wilkinson's children, Max and Ella, received the award on behalf of their father.

Peter Wilkinson, who ran green space consultancy The Next Field and had a 32-year career in parks and woodlands, died aged 57 on 9 June this year of lymphoma cancer.

Former colleague at Thames Chase Community Forest and friend John Meehan, head of sustainability and resilience, waste and environment at Essex County Council, gave a tribute at the event to Wilkinson's London "green space legacy".

"He set up and established London’s most active Community Forest as its first director, he established the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust as its first chief executive. He also worked on numerous green spaces in London, most notable Wanstead Park and Leyton Jubilee Park," Meehan said.

He outlined Wilkinson's work as the first director of Thames Chase Community Forest, which he took over in its infancy, and thanks to his vision, enthusiasm and hard work is now a 500 hectare forest planted with 1.3 million trees. He also wrote one of the first Community Forest Plans in the country in the Thames Chase Plan.

Wilkinson attracted significant Heritage Lottery Fund income, as head of parks in Bristol and worked to restore Ashton Court, Blaise Castle and Stoke Park, and, on returning to London helped partners create the River Wandle Regional Park Trust, becoming its first CEO, a now thriving project which last month won the Horticulture Week Custodian Award for Best Parks Partnership, Third Sector. 

"His legacy will not only be the places he has changed but the people he has changed," Meehan added. "His refreshing view on life helped so many people. Many he directly mentored and all have got back to me with personal stories. For other he was simply uplifting by what he said and his attitude. He was resilient to the negatives and would always come up with the positive

"But most of all Peter was fun. He made green space fun. He made us laugh along the way whilst delivering great places."

Meehan also quoted Sue Morgan, current chief executive of the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust

"Although I had never met Peter before joining the Trust, his reputation as an accomplished green space professional was well known to me from colleagues and beneficiaries alike," she commented. "In his handover to me as CEO of the Trust, he was supportive, patient, and passionate about the Wandle and continued to have a space for me, many months and years after leaving the Wandle if I needed advice or a sounding board. To this and to the projects he developed and delivered in the Wandle Valley, I, and our partners and stakeholders are grateful.

"It is a huge loss to the industry to have lost Peter – he was such a star in the green infrastructure world."

A legacy campaign launched by Wilkinson's family to make real his vision for a non-profit organisation to enable disabled people to have better access to woodlands across the UK has so far raised £5,032.

The Wilko Woods organisation would:
- campaign for improved standards for disabled people
- advise woodland management organisations on best practice
- develop a kite mark scheme to help disabled people find enjoyable and rewarding days out in woodlands across the UK.

To see more and to donate click here.

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