Vicky Meets…

Richard Plowman
Richard Plowman

Richard Plowman, Chairman of Priory Park 100

When the Friends of Priory Park realised that 30 September will mark the centenary of the Chichester park being given by the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon to the people of the City, ‘for their leisure and as a perpetual memorial to the fallen in the First World War,’ they were unanimous: this auspicious date must be acknowledged.

“The late 10th Duke of Richmond agreed to be Patron of the Priory Park 100 and then the 11th Duke took on that responsibility and has been equally enthusiastic and supportive,” said Richard, Chairman of the Friends group, also the Town Crier, a city councillor and a loyal supporter of numerous local organisations.

Boasting an exciting and varied nine-day programme including vintage sports, art, music, drama and astronomy, many events are free of charge, reflecting the Duke’s wish that Priory Park be enjoyed by everyone.

“I am especially looking forward to the anniversary date,” confessed Richard. “At the Drum Head Service to remember the fallen there will be a field gun salute, with two buglers atop the mound. There will also be a waterfall of poppies made by schoolchildren, and children from Parklands Primary School will read out names of the Fallen before releasing carrier pigeons with messages. The special ‘100’ choir, conducted by Emily Barden, will be followed by some WW1 marching songs accompanied by the Chichester City Band. It is going to be a completely unique and wonderful event,” he enthused.

Another event will see Richard digging out his childhood teddy bear.

“Chichester’s Biggest Ever Teddy Bears’ Picnic will take place at 3.30pm on Friday 28 September. We hope that people will come along with their teddies. We might even attempt the World Record for the most teddy bears in a park!”

Hoping to reunite people with the park’s heritage and history, also on offer is a re-enactment of the siege of Chichester, a parachute jump by RN Raiders, a vintage Rolls Royce display and the world premiere of The Hawkhurst Gang, a thrilling play by Gregg Mosse about an infamous band of Sussex smugglers, performed by Chichester Community Theatre. The ever-popular Priory Park Music Festival, usually staged earlier but delayed this year to coincide with the ‘100’ celebrations, offers three days of live music, with acts including The Hoosiers, Cregan & Co, Johnny Mars and young talent from the Ovation music charity.

“I hope events like Art in Action will happen annually and will bring new people to our gem of a Park,” said Richard, who has happy memories of watching his children and grandchildren at play in the glorious green space, as well as enjoying its peacefulness and beauty.

“A latte in Fenwick’s café looking towards the Guildhall and over to the Cathedral is wonderful; one of the finest views in Chichester. At one point in my life I had some difficult decisions to make. That wonderful tranquil setting allowed me freedom to think.”

Full programme details: www.priorypark100.com/events

Tickets for Priory Park Music Festival: www.eventbrite.com/o/newwave-music-17473549595