Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best Visitor Initiative

Winner - The Parks Trust's Linear Parks Events Programme

Image: The Parks Trust
Image: The Parks Trust

Events are very important to the Parks Trust, an independent charity set up in 1992 to care for 6000 acres of linear parks and green spaces in Milton Keynes.  Events animate the parks and encourage people who may not otherwise do so, to visit their local green space.

The full calendar programme staged by the events team and their volunteers is selected to appeal to a wide range of audiences and target demographics.  The team also partners with other organisations and assists local communities to put on their own events.

The Trust’s objectives are as follows:

  • Provide entertainment in the parks and enhance people’s visits.
  • Animate the parks to make them more attractive places to visit.
  • Communicate messages to the public and establish a relationship.
  • Engage with community groups and provide opportunities for them to utilise the greenspace.
  • Encourage people to visit lesser-used areas.
  • Raise awareness of the Trust and enhance the Trust’s reputation.
  • To generate income.

A key goal for the Trust is to better reflect the diversity of our park users and the wider population. Work on this began with a Community Ambassadors programme launched in 2016 that has improved communication with diverse groups; in 2017 the Trust’s events team enabled many black, asian and minority ethnic community organisations to host events from a Friends of the Caribbean cricket fun-day to the MK Filipino Festival.

Achievements include the staging of 2187 individual events, activities and fitness sessions in the Trust’s parks in 2017. This included a 51% increase in third party activities, driven by an increase in recreational opportunities such as cycling sessions and the team’s work with diverse communities.

The Parks Trust worked on six key partnership projects including the Milton Keynes History Festival with Heritage Milton Keynes and the Milton Keynes Festival of Nature with the local Wildlife Trust and Milton Keynes Natural History Society.  Commercial events staged meanwhile included three funfairs, one ‘Oktoberfest’, one circus and a Tent Show.

Other highlights include:

  • 38 different linear park network locations were used throughout the year
  • Eight festivals held including Open-air Film Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Festival of Giants.
  • More than 60 community events hosted including Milton Keynes Hindu Association Mela & Colour Festival
  • 22 fundraising events were staged including a Dragon Boat Festival which raised around £20k for Age UK


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