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Gillespie Park celebrates two decades as a nature reserve

12:30 18 May 2016

The ecology centre in Gillespie Park, opened in 1993

The ecology centre in Gillespie Park, opened in 1993

Archant

Neighbours of Islington’s first ever nature reserve, Gillespie Park, are being invited to help celebrate its birthday this weekend.

St. Thomas's meadow in Gillespie ParkSt. Thomas's meadow in Gillespie Park

Sunday will see an afternoon of crafts, music and adventure for all ages to mark the park’s 20th anniversary as a nature reserve.

As part of the council’s “Love Islington Parks” campaign, the day promises to offer fun for the whole family.

Events include live music by a children’s music group, educational sessions by The Garden Classroom, a penalty shoot-out with Arsenal FC, a bug hunt, pond-dipping and bee and butterfly crafts run by the Octopus Wildspaces Project.

There will also be an opportunity for children to help dress a special tree at the event, which will then remain the symbol of the anniversary.

Stalls will operate from noon to 4pm selling artists’ T-shirts, plants, jams and other produce cultivated at an allotment near the Gillespie Park Road site, and as always the volunteer run ecology centre will be offering refreshments throughout the day.

Originally railway land, the park – a stone’s throw from Arsenal Tube – was established by Islington Council in 1981. In 1993 it fought off efforts to turn the entire site into housing, before officially becoming a nature reserve in 1996.

“I am so pleased to be marking this anniversary for such an important natural asset in Islington,” said Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport.

Gillespie Park pond under constructionGillespie Park pond under construction

“Whether you are a regular visitor or have never set foot in this beautiful oasis, do come down on Sunday and celebrate this happy landmark.”

Sue Jandy, chair of the Friends of Gillespie Park group, spoke about the importance of places such as Gillespie Park for Islington as a whole.

“With the population in this area having increased so greatly, and with Islington having the least amount of open space in the country, Gillespie Park is vital for our physical and mental well-being,”

“Thank goodness it was saved from development as we all need green spaces in a crowded city.”

The Gillespie celebration is one of the main events in the Love Islington Parks campaign, which raises awareness of Islington’s 120 parks and small spaces.

For more information see LIPS2016.eventbrite.com

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