The freehold of the Park is held by Clare Town Council. In March 2015, when the Park was transferred from Suffolk County Council to the Town Council, a 30 year lease and management agreement was entered into by the Town Council and Clare Castle Country Park Trust, which is responsible for the management of the Park. The Trust is a registered charity which was set up for the purpose of running the Park.
The constitution of the Trust sets out that there must be a minimum of three trustees but in practice there are more, some of whom are appointed/re-elected every two years.
Trustees can be appointed in a number of ways: by the Town Council, by the trustees themselves or by a combination of the Town Council, trustees and ‘supporters’ (supporters are volunteers, Friends and Patrons).
The Trust meets regularly to review progress, discuss plans and proposals and provides regular reports to the Town Council. An annual public meeting is held to report on the past year and plans, including reporting on the quarterly accounts and annually reviewed business plan.
Gary Brown, Health and Safety Trustee
Gary Brown Gary has been a Trustee for several years. He was originally seconded to the Trustee Board due to his career as a Police Officer in London. He also brings a great deal of knowledge regarding Health and Safety to the Trust. After a year, Gary was elected as a Trustee and now enjoys working with a group of like-minded individuals who are all passionate about running and maintaining the Park for the benefit of the whole community.
Before retiring as a Chief Inspector in the Metropolitan Police in 2013, Gary had 30 years of public service, spending much of his time in charge of community policing in several east London boroughs. One of his responsibilities over the years was health and safety which took two main forms: the safety of specific police-related locations e.g. Bethnal Green Police Station, and the dynamic risk assessments that were required when dealing with serious incidents such as firearms and terrorism-related incidents. He has transferred these skills to the Park, taking responsibility for all health and safety matters including buildings, the green space environment and events.
When asked what he is most passionate about within the Park, Gary said:
“I enjoy all aspects of the Park and I am passionate about keeping it well maintained and in a condition that will allow the maximum number of community members to enjoy it all year round. I think that it is very important to keep the Park ‘fresh’ and to have new ideas, events and features appearing from time to time to remind the community what a wonderful resource the Park is for people of all ages.”
Emma Hastings, Activities Trustee
Emma joined the Trust in January 2020. Having always lived in Clare, she has many childhood memories within the Park and is now re-living them with her own children. She is keen to give something back to a place that has made her happy over the years and she particularly values the fact that the Park offers something unique to every visitor, be it history, nature, play areas, ParkRun or a visit to the café.
Before starting her family, Emma worked in nursery and school settings and completed a qualification in Early Years and Childcare. Emma now works at the forest school which is run in the Park, so is here most days.
When asked what she is most passionate about within the Park, Emma said:
“I am most interested in the Country Park being used as a place where families can engage with nature, the space around them and most importantly each other. In the modern world that we live in, I feel it is important to leave all the tech and social media at home and make the most of the outdoors. The more the community is engaged with the Park and its activities, the most people will wish to preserve it as a place that is viable for the future generations of Clare.”
Mary Tweed, Commercial Trustee
Mary joined the Trust in January 2020 and is motivated by the Park becoming a hub for the community. As a visitor to the Park for the last 18 years, whilst her children were small, she would spend hours in the play park. Nowadays you can find her at the start line of ParkRun on a Saturday morning.
She has taught Nordic Walking in the Park since 2016, during which time she has seen the Park transform. She is a committee member of Clare Walkers and has also worked in business development for a small start-up software company and so learned how to solve problems creatively and om a shoestring budget.
When asked what she is most passionate about within the Park, Mary said:
“I believe passionately that outdoor activity benefits everyone’s mental and physical health and I think that Clare is fortunate to have such a wonderful facility on its doorstep.”
Neil Bagshaw, Green Space Trustee
Having lived and worked in Clare since 1981 Neil has many happy memories related to the Park. These include those with his own family, friends and students from the local school where Neil spent much of his teaching life.
Since retiring he has spent many enjoyable hours as a “green space” volunteer, enjoying the experience of working in a natural environment.
When asked what he is most passionate about within the Park, Neil said:
“We have, I believe, a beautiful and unique resource and I am committed to ensuring that it remains a natural gem in the town of Clare.”
Jack Dalziel, Chair
Jack was appointed a trustee in June 2021 and became chair of the trustees on 1 January 2022.
Jack was brought up in Sudbury and has lived in Long Melford since 2005. He has strong links with Clare, having been a regular Park visitor and his children having both attended Stour Valley Community School. Jack is managing director of SRL Technical Services, an environmental and consulting business employing about 50 people in Little Waldingfield. In addition to his commercial and engineering experience, Jack has an MBA, has worked with a national charity in the development of childcare and has been a governor of a local school.
Since his appointment Jack has been closely involved in the running of the Park, working alongside and getting to know volunteers, staff, regular visitors and others with a close connection to the Park.
When asked what he is most passionate about in the Park, Jack said:
“Sustainability, in all its meanings: environmentally, to keep the park as diverse and green as possible; economically, to keep the park financially self-sufficient and capable of dealing with all future costs; socially, to keep the park open and enjoyable for everyone and exclude no-one.”
Marian Merch-Chammon, Visitor Centre Trustee
Marian was appointed a trustee in 2022, having been closely involved in the running of the Visitor Centre since it was set up the previous year.
Marian lives in Clare, raised her family here and has been very involved in the local community as a volunteer for over 40 years, with roles ranging from Chair of Clare playgroup, PTA at the middle school, Town Hall management committee, secretary of CHOC, Friday Club at the Baptist Church and Clare in Bloom to the Covid support taskforce and gardening for Clare’s older residents. She has volunteered at the Park’s Visitor Centre since it opened and now manages it.
When asked what she is most passionate about in the Park, Marian said:
“My vision is to see children who visit the Park now, return in time with their children and remember all the good times they had exploring and learning about Clare’s history and the living environment, as my daughters did when they were younger. We can help at the Visitor Centre by supplying booklets and trails to get children excited about learning without them knowing it.
Memories of Clare Castle Country Park are all around us and I want to be a part of keeping this space special for everyone.”
Sue Eyre, Merchandising Trustee
Sue was appointed a trustee in March 2022. She lives and works in Clare and is a volunteer steward a the Visitor Centre, as well as being part of the small group which manages it. Sue supplies galleries in Suffolk and Norfolk with ceramics she makes here in Clare.
When asked what she is most passionate about in the Park, Sue said:
“As a relative newcomer to Clare, I was immediately struck by what a unique and precious resource the Park is. I intend to use my role as a Trustee to help develop and protect its position at the heart of our beautiful small town.”
Sherralyn Drury, Education and Young People Trustee
Sherraylyn was appointed a trustee in March 2022.
Sherralyn lives and works in Clare. As a teacher at Stour Valley Community School, she is keen to promote links between the Park and school and to strengthen young people’s involvement with the Park.
When asked what she is most passionate about in the Park, Sherralyn said:
“I love that Clare Country Park has something for everyone: from little people being able to play in a safe playground or feed the ducks, for the fitness conscious Saturday morning Parkruns, to whole family community events, a friendly tearoom to meet up with friends, an information centre with a wealth of knowledge about the surrounding nature and the history of Clare and so, so much more. Following my recent major surgery, the Park has been invaluable in helping my recovery, and now I want to give a little back, to ensure it continues to give others the enjoyment I have been fortunate to have.”
Being a Trustee
Roles and Responsibilities
The role of a Clare Castle Country Park Trust Trustee is summarised in six main duties:
- To ensure that the charity is carrying out its purpose for the public’s benefit.
- To comply with the charity’s governing body and the law.
- To act in the charity’s best interest.
- To manage the charity’s resources responsibly.
- To act with reasonable care and skill.
- To ensure the charity is accountable e.g. complies with statutory accounting and reporting requirements etc.
The rules of the Trust are contained in a formal document. This sets out the purposes for which the Trust exists, which are:
- To preserve, protect, maintain and improve the physical and natural environment of Clare Castle Country Park for the public benefit, interest and enjoyment; including by providing facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation and leisure time occupation with the objective of improving their conditions of life.
- To advance the education of the public concerning the history and heritage of Clare Castle Country Park and its physical and natural attributes and heritage.
Please note that the above points are taken from the text approved by the Charity Commission.
Expertise and Insight
The aim is to have a board of Trustees who are able to manage the diverse range of matters that the Trusts experiences. Different Trustees bring different insights with the overall aim to ensure that the board has knowledge that spans the following areas: business management, history & heritage, park management, education, finance, building maintenance, health & safety, listed buildings, event & activity organisation, PR & media.
When a new Trustee joins the board, the areas of responsibilities are discussed and agreed within the above categories.
Trustees usually meet monthly, as of a weekday evening. Trustees are asked to attend at least two thirds of the monthly meetings in any one financial year. Papers are circulated prior to meetings which often contain proposals for projects, ongoing activities, outstanding future plans and decisions that will require decisions. Trustees are asked to read the papers so that any questions can be raised and decisions can be made efficiently during each meeting.
Other papers may be circulated throughout the month that will also require attention.
Time commitment may vary throughout the year depending on projects and events with the most active times requiring, on average, 10-15 hours per month.
Clare Castle Country Park Trust aims to have a minimum of 8 Trustees. Trustees are appointed for a 4 year term with half of them being elected/ re-elected every 2 years. There are 4 methods of appointment:
- Two Trustees are appointed by the Town Council in consultation with the Trust (they do not need to be Town Councillors)
- Two Trustees are appointed following an advertising campaign. A selection panel for these Trustees will consist of 2 Trustees and 1 Town Councillor
- Two Trustees are appointed by existing Trustees
- Two Trustees are appointed by volunteers, Patrons and Friends.