It seems only yesterday that the Visitor Centre opened just outside Pembroke Lodge, staffed by Friends of Richmond Park volunteers. In fact it was three and a half years ago – sufficient time to allow a brief reflection on progress.

The purpose of the Visitor Centre is to provide somewhere for visitors to find out more about the Park and its wildlife, ask questions – “where are the deer?” is a common one – and perhaps buy a card or souvenir. In spring 2009 Michael Davison reviewed achievements in the Friends’ newsletter (download his article below). He noted that around 20,000 people had passed through the Centre in the first two years of operation, with peak daily footfall in the hundreds.

Financially the Centre started from scratch, so in these straightened times it is no mean achievement to be covering running costs from the profits of sales. The Centre is doing better than that: profits paid for the cost (£1,000) of a new purpose-built tern raft in Pen Ponds, which was occupied by a pair of breeding terns this summer. Other sizeable donations are planned, including a contribution to the cost of tree planting in the Friends of Richmond Park’s 50th anniversary year.

Future innovations include an audio-visual information system, to be introduced on a experimental basis to gauge visitor reaction, and extended seven-days-a-week opening when the clocks go forward again in spring 2011.

The Centre always needs volunteers, so if you are a Friend and would be interested in lending a hand, please do contact Brian Baker at [email protected] or on 020 8546 3109.