Sue and Sundeep, Friends of South Norwood Country Park (South Drawood exhibition)
The Friends of South Norwood country Park was started it in 2014. The main focus of the group is conservation, making sure the wildlife can thrive and habitats are maintained in the 125 acre park. The group was originally set up to work with a warden, but once the role of the warden no longer existed the group continued, with the former warden even continuing to work in the park as a volunteer.
The group work on conservation over two days a month. Some of their most recent work has been the ‘I Dig Trees’ project, which saw around 200 trees be donated this year which have been planted in the country park. The group are trying to build a woodland to replace the current meadow. They have been planting trees for around six years and they are starting to see the rewards of their efforts.
The group’s other activities include planting wildflower seeds and litter picking. They have also dug out trenches in the wetlands to improve water management. This has seen birds such as waders flock back to the area. They have also started to see more unusual animals arrive, such as the marsh frog which is not native to the UK.
Sue and Sundeep, two of the volunteers of the country park, feel very fortunate to have a nature reserve in an urban area. They are very proud of it and happy that lots of people discovered it during the pandemic. The couple have lived in South Norwood for around 30 years, and remember the Country Park being built 1989 started conversion from former sewage land to country park. They want to make sure there is something of value for the community and that it is treated with respect.
The couple love living in South Norwood, and are strong believers that South Norwood does not deserve negative press and are proud to live and work within such a diverse area with such a rich history.
Words by Elizabeth Walters
Interview with Sue and Sundeep, two volunteers at South Norwood Country Park, April 2022
Friends of South Norwood Country Park
This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.
From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.
South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.
The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.