As the seasons change from autumn to winter, it is a great reminder that nothing stands still.

There have been some big changes on Hampstead Heath this past year as the team adapt to different ways of working and new leadership, with our new superintendent, Bill LoSasso, supported by Charlotte Williams as head of operations and parks, and Jonathan Meares as head of conservation.

The sad passing of our former head of operations, Declan Gallagher, earlier this year is still very much felt by all of his family, friends and colleagues. I know Declan would have been proud of the improvements to the Parliament Hill Athletics Track, due to be reopened soon. Declan was passionate about the track and managed the facility for many years.

Ham & High: William Upton fondly remembers Declan GallagherWilliam Upton fondly remembers Declan Gallagher (Image: City of London Corporation)

He was a key part of the team that drove forward the £2 million project - funded by the City of London Corporation, which manages Hampstead Heath - and that the new team have seen completed.

This will ensure it remains accredited by British Athletics and continues to host local, national and international athletics events in the future.

Despite some delays due to poor weather, the track surface is looking magnificent, the upgraded floodlights have been fitted and tested, and we’re aiming to welcome athletes back before the year is out.

The track has come a long way since it had a cinder surface in the 1970s.

The City Corporation remains committed to supporting sport, health and wellbeing across the capital and beyond. This project has been a great example of partnership working and the clubs who use the track, such as the Highgate Harriers, have been able to give invaluable feedback throughout.

Those who use it, including the schools who book their annual sports days at Parliament Hill, can look forward to running on one of the country’s best athletics tracks.

Finally, as the festive season comes round again, our stalwart colleague Paul Maskell reminds me that the Christmas Fayre will be at East Heath this weekend until Sunday 7 January 2024. There are Christmas trees for sale and fairground rides for children as well as seasonal food and drinks.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and you get the chance to enjoy some magical time on the Heath this winter.

  • William Upton KC, is chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood, and Queen’s Park Committee.