Lesnes Abbey Woods wins prestigious award

Lesnes Abbey team at awards ceremony with their award

Its commitment to the long-term management of Lesnes Abbey Woods resulted in Bexley being awarded the London Borough Tree and Woodland Award last night (10 July).

The Council’s Parks and Open Spaces team were presented with the award at the London's Tree and Woodland Awards Ceremony held at City Hall. Now in its tenth year, the annual awards from Forestry Commission England celebrate the work of individuals, communities and professionals to protect, improve and expand the capital’s tree and woodland cover, and to inspire others. 

Cllr Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Places was also at the awards ceremony. He said: “Thank you to all the amazing staff, volunteers and our partners who have made Lesnes Abbey Woods a place that offers so much more than a great day out.

“The work which has taken place over the last few years by everyone has transformed this historic site to ensure it has a long future.

“It’s been able to provide invaluable training, learning and work experience to so many people, with two of its long-term volunteers even successfully securing internships and joining the project’s paid staff. 

“Congratulations to all our officers and volunteers who have worked so hard to win this award. This news shows why Bexley is one of the best places to live in the UK.”

The park in Abbey Wood has benefitted from a £4.2 million improvement and management project, which saw the construction of Lesnes Lodge - a building designed as a hub for volunteers, education, events and activities. Elsewhere on the site, new walking routes, art installations and outdoor classrooms have been installed, as well as a new pump track, trim trail, outdoor gym, table tennis and picnic tables.

These improvements were financed by the Council with significant support from a £3.4 million grant it won from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People Programme.

For the park’s ongoing management, the Council has worked with other organisations, such as Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers, London Wildlife Trust and Trees for Cities, to provide volunteering opportunities to around 500 people. It also provides tools, training, and a volunteer mess room for its volunteers. Students from Plumpton, Hadlow, and Capel Manor colleges have also been able to secure work placements at the park.

To help sustain its ongoing management, the Park generates an income by hosting practical training days and curriculum-based classes. Around 40 classes led by Council staff and the North West Kent Countryside Project have been held for local schools. The Field Studies Council, Forestry Commission, London Tree Officers Association, and Natural History Museum have all used the site for training and meetings. 

Lesnes Abbey now has its own mobile phone app, available to download from Google Play or the App Store, as well as a dedicated website and a Facebook page with over 2,000 followers. 

To find out more visit the Lesnes Abbey website.

Pictured: Front Row (kneeling) - Keith Langley, Volunteer Lesnes Abbey Woods.

Second row left to right - Len Pegler-Vincent, Grounds Maintenance Manager, Colin Rowland, Head of Parks & Open Spaces, Cllr Peter Craske, Cabinet Member for Places, Ian Holt, Lesnes Abbey Estate Manager, Fae Smith, Intern Countryside Management, Oliver Wilton, Intern Countryside Management, Mark Taylor, Tree and Nature Conservation Manager, Tristan Boulton, Vice Chair, Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers and Jonathan Arkle, Volunteer.

Back Row -  Tiarnan Boultwood, Chair Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers.