Harrogate’s Award-Winning Park

FOVG Yorkshire Rose
Friends Pages
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Here you will find everything you need to know relating to the current and future activities of Friends of Valley Gardens Harrogate as well as important current information about Valley Gardens.
FOVG are a registered charity number 1148369 and we are supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Friends of Valley Gardens Win Platinum Award in the 2017 Yorkshire in Bloom Open Spaces Category! Congratulations to all the volunteer gardeners and thanks for all the extra shifts you put in to bring the Gardens up the this standard. Also congratulations and thanks to Simon Collier, HBC Head Gardener, and his team for all their support.

Wanted - New FOVG Secretary:
FOVG is in need of a new Secretary. For further details please apply to Peter Blayney at pjblayney@gmail.com

FOVG General Meeting to be Held on 21st Oct at RHS Harlow Carr: FOVG will hold a General meeting on Saturday, 21 October 2017, at 10.00 am in the Jubilee Room, Bramall Centre, RHS Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate HG3 1QB. After the meeting FOVG members and their guests will be permitted FREE ENTRY into Harlow Carr Gardens for the remainder of the day. RSVP ESSENTIAL to Peter Blayney, preferably by email to pjblayney@gmail.com, by 16 October latest. Please click here for more details and to download an admission certificate.

1940’s Day Message - Please read the following message about the future of FOVG’s 1940’s Day:


You will be aware that the dedicated few members who have organised the highly successful 1940s Open Days over the last seven years have found their work levels increasingly onerous, demanding, as it does, attention on and off throughout the whole year, in addition to the tasks presenting on the day itself. The event has grown as their ability to manage it has declined, to the point that they feel they can no longer commit to future events.

The earlier appeal for help to members produced a disappointing response and there appeared to be insufficient support to contemplate the event continuing under the FOVG banner. Being reluctant simply to abandon what has now become a significant part of Harrogate’s summer scene, the Trustees decided on an exit strategy.

Enquiries are currently being made into the possibility that a local charity might wish to take over the 1940s Open Day. If these fail, suggestions for alternative management will be considered. It is expected that the process will have run its course by the end of this month, shortly after which an announcement will be made.

If you have any suggestions of suitable charities or individuals who might be willing and able to take on running the 1940s Open Day, please contact any of the officers below.

Chairman: Jane Blayney (01423) 505231, Treasurer: Anne Grange (01423) 522720,
Volunteer Gardeners Co-ordinator: Liz Chidlow (01423) 884651,
Marketing/Publicity: Dr Jon Iddon and Stephen Watkinson 07792 093466,
Secretary: Peter Blayney (01423) 505231.

FOVG Says Thanks to 1940s Day Tombola Sponsors: FOVG would like to thank the following sponsors who made our 2017 1940’s Day Tombola such a wonderful success.
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Valley Gardens Head Gardner, Simon Collier Walked Coast to Coast to Raise Funds: HBC’s head gardener in Valley Gardens, Simon Collier, accompanied by his dog, Russell, Simon's brother, Michael, and good friend, Steve, have walked 84 miles spanning the length of Hadrian's Wall from Bowness to Wallsend. The walk, which was completed from 19th - 24th July, raised money to be divided equally between FOVG and Starbeck in Bloom. The total raised was a magnificent £1,342! A presentation of the funds to the beneficiaries will be made at 11.00 am on Tuesday, 19 Sep in Starbeck Park next to the Library. You are cordially invited to attend and add your congratulations to Simon for a job well done.

Below are some photos of the walk.

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Planning the trip

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Seventh Annual Fabulous 1940s Open Day Hosts 39,000 Attendees: FOVG would like to thank the volunteers and attendees at the 1940’s Day who helped to make this year’s event the most successful ever. The Harrogate Advertiser reports that more than 39,000 people enjoyed the beautiful weather and wonderful entertainment!

Future FOVG Meetings: We have been well served by St Peter’s Church enabling our past meetings to take place centrally. However, we now have the opportunity for a change and the next two meetings will be held in the Jubilee Room of the Bramall Centre, RHS Harlow Carr at 10.00 am on Saturday, 21 October for the General Meeting and on Saturday, 3 March 2018 for the AGM. The arrangements include FREE ACCESS to Harlow Carr Gardens after each meeting!
We look forward to seeing you.

Support for New Zealand Artists: On Saturday 15 April, 2017, the Friends were host to two artists from New Zealand who were exhibiting at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show. They received a guided tour of Valley Gardens.
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Visitors from New Zealand with Jane Blayney in the New Zealand Garden

Support to Harrogate Flower Show: FOVG has also supported the Harrogate Spring Flower Show where our stand promoted 'Rooting for Harrogate', our bid to become Champion of Champions in 2017 Britain in Bloom, and the Yorkshire Business Market.

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Jon and Steve (FOVG Publicity Officers) at the Spring Flower Show, Harrogate, 2017

Jane Blayney (Chairman Friends Of Valley Gardens) and Jon Iddon (Publicity Officer)
at the Yorkshire Business Market, The Pavilions, Harrogate, March, 2017

FOVG to Develop Heritage Walks in Valley Gardens: FOVG will shortly be developing Heritage Walks for people of all ages and abilities in Valley Gardens. More information will be promulgated as details are developed.

FOVG Newsletter: The latest edition of our newsletter, the Albatross, is now available. You can download a copy by clicking on the link below. Past editions are also available:

FOVG AGM Held on 16 March 2017: The AGM was held on 16th Mar in the Brostoff Community Center, St Peter’s Church, Harrogate. It was followed by a talk given by celebrated local historian Malcolm Neesam entitled “The Story of Harrogate’s Parks and Gardens”. Please click here for more information.

Peat Garden and Old Magnesia Well Pump Room Win Platinum Award in 2016 Yorkshire in Bloom and Also the 2016 Harrogate in Bloom Shield: FOVG are delighted to announce that we received a Platinum award (the top one) in the Open Spaces category for the Peat Garden and Old Magnesia Well Pump Room Project. We also received the 2016 Harrogate in Bloom Shield. These are great results and we send a big thank you to all of you who have helped on this project and continue to maintain the garden and the pump room. This is a testament to all your hard work. To learn more about this project and our entry, please click here.

Liz Chidlow, FOVG Garden Volunteer Organiser,
receives the Yorkshire In Bloom Parks and Open Spaces
Award 2016 on behalf of FOVG.

FOVG’s Current Projects: With the completion of the restoration of the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room and Gardens, FOVG is now pursuing two new projects:
  • Restoration of the Japanese Garden led by Ann Beeby and Liz Chidlow. To view the draft plan, click here.
  • Restoration of the Green Park Entrance to the Gardens led by David Mason
To learn more about these projects, please click here.

Old Magnesia Well Pump Room Open Twice Every Month:
The fully restored Old Magnesia Well Pump Room is now open twice each month on the first and third Sundays of the month from 10.00am to 3.30pm. Please drop by for a visit. Openings can be arranged for groups or for private showings by contacting our Chairman, Jane Blayney at jane.blayney23@gmail.com or by phone at 07794583888.

Tours of Valley Gardens and Presentations are Now Available: Friends of Valley Gardens are now offering tours of Valley Gardens and the Old Magnesia Pump Room as well as the sites of our current projects. We also provide presentations to community groups about Valley Gardens. The following informative presentations are now available to be booked:
  • “Restorations Completed and Being Undertaken” by Jane Blayney. Please call 07794 583 888
  • “East Meets West Through Japanese Gardens” by Ann Beeby. Please call 07966 729 299
Thanks to the HBC Small Grant Fund for their award of £818.89 which has enabled us to purchase a projector and screen to assist with these informative presentations. The possession of a FOVG owned projector and screen will much enhance our outreach services in the form of presentations to the community.

If you are interested in scheduling a tour, please contact our Chairman, Jane Blayney at
jane.blayney23@gmail.com. Tours can accommodate all types of groups. We have hosted both the Brownies and the History Society as well as the groups shown in the photos below. All proceeds are applied towards the restoration, maintenance, and refurbishment of Valley Gardens.

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Recent tour for the Leeds Paxton Friday Forum lead by Jane Blayney

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Tour for Shaun Kiddell, Parks Policy Adviser, Heritage Lottery Fund led by Jane Blayney

International Visitors to the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room: Our Old Magnesia Well Pump Room is developing a world-wide following. Since the building was opened periodically during the refurbishment process starting in 2011, we have welcomed visitors from all over the UK as well as from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and the states of California, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin in the USA.

FOVG Gardening Group: If you are interested in helping with the maintenance of the gardens within Valley Gardens, you will be pleased to know that FOVG has a volunteer gardening group. Please contact Liz Chidlow at liz.chidlow@hotmail.co.uk to be kept informed of future activities.

FOVG Leaflet Available: FOVG have developed a leaflet about the organisation. Click here to download your copy. (It is a large file so please be patient.)

Friends of Valley Gardens Flyer