New Year’s Honours List: Childs Hill Park fundraiser awarded BEM

Ingrid Posen with some of the volunteers.

Ingrid Posen with some of the volunteers. - Credit: Archant

The tireless work of Ingrid Posen, 71, in the Childs Hill Park and Golders Green community has been recognised with a British Empire Medal.

After growing dismayed at how “run down” the park had become, with its “miserable” playground and broken tables and paths, Mrs Posen approached Barnet Council with a view to making a difference.

Having formed the Friends of Childs Hill Park, she met with members of the community to find out what locals really wanted.

The overwhelming response was for a nice playground and sports equipment for people to do their exercises.

Barnet agreed and duly handed over a £50,000 grant which was used to renovate the playground, benches and pathways and make Childs Hill Park the first to have an outdoor gym.

The playground was also extended while an additional grant from the Trust for London even allowed them to install a table tennis table.

Together with the Harrington Scheme, a successful application was lodged with the Big Lottery People’s Millions Fund for a further £50,000 to create a Marsh Garden in a muddy swamp area at the bottom of the park while Barnet provided £7,500 to fund the space.

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The garden allows children to learn through interacting with nature as well as instilling the importance of caring for the environment around them.

“It has been a virtual circle – everything is getting better,” said Mrs Posen.

“I shouldn’t brag, but it is very lovely.”

However, it is not just younger members of the community who have benefitted.

“We have no community hall in the whole of Childs Hill Park or the Golders Green area,” Mrs Posen continued.

“We have a huge mixed community here and it is great that everyone comes together in the park.”

Mrs Posen traces her passion for helping those in need right back to when she was working as a lecturer shortly after leaving university.

“On the way home I saw this huge centre in Cardiff for children with what was then called spasticity,” she said.

“These were very severe. I wondered in and just said ‘Can I help?’ and they said ‘Certainly, come in’.

“It was utterly shocking because these children had such awful problems – physical and mental disabilities – and I was shocked because I hadn’t seen such disabilities before.

“I thought I should help.”

That thirst for helping others has now handed an entire community a beautiful space to spend their time.

“I love to see it, just because you go into the park and people just say how much they enjoy it – how could it be any nicer?” Mrs Posen said.

“What more could you want really?”

Despite there still being work to do, the fundraiser was “surprised and excited” to be recognised for her hard work with a BEM.

“It is lovely. I will be sharing it with everybody and I hope it encourages more people to get involved in the park.”