Thanks to a generous donation, we set you a challenge to share with us what has been your favourite thing about Kennington Park in lockdown.
To all who entered our competition we say a huge Thank You. We’ve heard some great stories about all the ways people have been using Kennington Park during lockdown. And we loved seeing your wonderful drawings, paintings, photos and videos, and reading your amazing poems and stories.
The Friends now have the pleasure of revealing the winners and runners-up.
As a reminder, there were 3 categories:
1) Drawing / painting / cartoon
2) Photo / video
3) Poem / song / story
and there were 4 prizes for each category:
1st prize: £100
2nd prize: £50
3rd prize: £25
Children’s prize: £25 (aged 14 or under)
Drawing / painting / cartoon
It’s just fun to draw. Kennington Park is very nice and the greenery is perfect to draw. That's what inspired me – the fact that it's big and spacious. The perfect place to ride bikes with friends too..
CHILD: Josiah Onojobi
It's an Oasis…
I moved here in September 2020 from north west London after breaking away from a long 10-year relationship! So Kennington Park and the Flower Garden has been my safe place that has encouraged me to start drawing again, and start working on my fitness as well as enjoying the beautiful area. I have taken many photos for myself of me drawing and of nature’s progress through the changing seasons. This reminds me of the numerous occasions I have set aside time for myself, to spend listening to the birds tweet, the brass band playing and random conversations happening. This is my first final finished piece and I had to share. Thank you for having a great park for me to escape from the crazy reality of everything.
Josiah's mum told us:
Kennington Park is a lovely place for making friends. While Josiah and his friends were practising their music in the park, people walking by would show appreciation. One of those was a neighbour we had never met, who lives just two minutes from us. After meeting in the park, we joined him for lunch and tea, and he showed our sons his beautiful paintings and gave one to Josiah – a painting of Kennington Park. Josiah set about creating his own version – this drawing – which he in turn gave to our neighbour.
photo / video
Noor & Evin Issa
I wanted to reflect the feelings of reconnecting mentally and physically again with nature through a "letter-like" theme that will guide you through the girls’ journey on a day in Kennington Park. Nature, the huge old trees, and Spring sprouting around us. How excited the children are to be roaming again where they belong, in nature and not in front of a screen. Kennington Park’s green space helped my daughters to feel free during the lockdown. The video was taken in April 2021.
CHILD: Rory Stansbury Cleary
All the wonderful trees in Kennington Park have really helped me throughout lockdown. It's been amazing to see the trees change with the seasons on my daily loops around the park. I love how the shape of the blossom is replicated in the clouds above in this image.
I visit Kennington Park most days. I walk or run a few laps around the park in the morning to exercise, enjoy nature and set an intention for the day. Since the first lockdown in March 2020, I’ve done about 750 laps around Kennington Park. I'd encourage all local residents to visit the park (with the risk of falling in love with it)!
My collage shows how I have enjoyed the park and its four seasons during the pandemic. I hope it captures how the park and its beauty has helped me maintain my physical health and mental well-being during a challenging year.
When I see something beautiful in the park, I take a moment to enjoy it and photograph it so I can go back to it later. I'm glad to be able to share some of the wonderful moments I’ve enjoyed in the park during the past year through this competition.
Rory's mum told us:
Rory age 2 and his big brother Blake age 8 LOVED exploring the park through all seasons! This picture shows the joy and excitement of Rory collecting conkers in the autumn! We smelt the flowers and fed the squirrels during summer and put on our coats and boots and splashed in puddles during the winter.
poem / song / story
This Park is Full!
The air is full – of football’s, kites and music.
Gymnasts are climbing the trees instead of climbing the walls at home.
The trees are full of parakeets
The flowers are full of bees
The pond is full of tadpoles
This little park is like a best loved teddy.
Stuffing knocked out of it, fraying round the edges.
But full full full of love!
There’s people playing everywhere:
Children and dogs, jazz bands, picnics in the rain, snowball fights, dancing, every size snow people with big hair and rosie cheeks
I love this little park
It’s popped open like a pinata!
And covered me in treats : )
I haven't written a poem since I had to do it at school! The park makes me happy.
The Gifts of Kennington Park
The park gifts space,
To work out body and mind,
Discover self or other,
Breathe in the vast sky
And feel connected
With something greater than I.
Its old earth,
Here is a world,
Parallel to the one
Beyond the railings,
Where concrete and green merge,
Dogs gambol in the grass,
I converse with crows
And the rebirth of each season
Delivers daily delights.
The park gifts history;
Aspirations of working men
And a queen’s consort
Wanting model houses for all.
Each planted their dreams
On common ground,
Where once convicts hung,
On the Surrey gallows,
The Tyburn of the South,
Cricket playing cheek by jowl
With this ghastly spectacle.
The park gifts poetry and protest;
‘Life is beautiful ~
Enjoy it to the fullest!’
States a small plaque
Nestling in the English Garden,
Where the winged choir congregate.
If only they could teach
The parakeets to sing!
From Maya Angelou,
An angel who will always rise,
Stone carved wisdom
Honours the innocent,
Felled by the Blitz.
Graffiti artists declare;
‘It’s curtains for democracy!’
‘1984 is now.’
While Unity in the Community’
And ‘Love is gonna save the day’
Is the message of the mural,
Itself a fine legacy
And lesson in history.
The park gifts mystery;
An old ornate column
Stands beneath a cherry tree,
Its former purpose lost to see.
On the Nature Trail,
What ‘can eat their own body weight every day’? The words are worn away!
Who coined Midnight Path?
And is Stanley Beans now a man?
The park gifts art in many forms;
A fallen branch an exhibition
Of Nature’s sculpture,
A wooden toad haunched
In the newly planted orchard,
Half a rusty lamp post,
Re-purposed to advertise
With vegan options.
Remnants of fountains,
Their beauty lives on,
Still drawing the eye
Reflecting the benevolence and skill
Of former local visionaries.
The park gifts trees,
That became friends
When human ones were absent.
Sturdy magnificent planes,
The pearls of the park,
Which have weathered
Many a change
In politics and society.
The gracious triangular trio
That greet me at the gate,
Saggy bottomed ones
Circling the playing field,
Like couch potato joggers.
The brace with pyramid bases
And quirky pimpled faces;
Aliens hiding in plain sight.
Planes with the feet of giants
That garland and guard the park.
Trees who shelter sprites
Hidden in their bark,
You can glimpse them
If you stop, look and see.
Trees to inspire a hundred stories.
Willows weeping over concrete;
Long gone the lido’s water deep.
The nine cork oak crescent;
Residents that often pine
For their native clime.
A sprouting stump
Refusing to submit to death.
The park gifts urban bees,
Working in harmony
With flowers and trees.
There is no furlough,
Or social distancing for them,
Queuing at the base of a hive
Working longer than nine to five.
All this is the gift
Of Kennington Park.
The greatest gift?
I leave more curious
And content than when I came.
Kennington Park During Lockdown
In the 15 or so years we’ve lived in Kennington, the park has always been a great local resource. The regeneration of the 1930s flower garden was a particular high, and the installing of the wonderful new sundial provides another historical reference for future generations.
But how was lockdown special. Well, I’ve never been a sports person. I hated sport at school, and over the decades had found that I liked swimming, cycling (though only gentle cycling!), found fun and fitness in Pilates, and that possibly my sport was lawn bowls. Hardly energetic.
In July 2020 I discovered, from a routine GP blood test, that I was pre-diabetic. Not diabetic yet, but unless I did something about it, I’d be on the slippery slope to Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes, whatever anyone tells you, is a nasty, life-limiting disease. It causes circulatory problems, often ending in amputations. It causes problems with the retina including damage to sight. I could go on. Basically, you don’t want it. I decided that this was something I could do something about. It had been a shock, because I wasn’t visibly overweight (I was just at the top of the ‘normal’ BMI measure). I was probably what the doctors call ‘TOFI’ (thin on the outside, fat on the inside). In other words, I almost certainly had fat around my internal organs.
So, I did a bit of research about low-carb diets and exercise and committed to a new regime. I stopped eating all obviously sugar-laden foods, and the starchy, carb-heavy ‘white stuff’ (i.e. rice, bread, potatoes and pasta) and substituted them with more fresh vegetables, beans and other pulses.
But, and here’s where the park came in, I also decided to start running. Not too much, but regularly. So for three months I ran every day. My running was only a few laps of the park, but about half an hour got the blood pumping, the metabolism going, and generally made me feel good.
By the end of October my blood sugar levels had dropped by a third – and were very well down into the ‘normal’ range. I’d lost about 10-15kg from a year before. All in all a triumph.
Now, another six months on, I’m still running laps of the park. I see lots of friendly, familiar faces each morning. It’s a delight. In fact, it’s a life-saver.
It's been an actual life-saver for me. It's helped me beat Type 2 Diabetes…
I have many favourite things from Kennington Park in Lockdown; it is a place of discovery, and every visit shows you something new and/or familiar. I have tried to reflect this in my poem, and I hope my observations and joys resonate with you and others, too. I am so grateful for London’s parks and open spaces, and to those who maintain them. Without them, Lockdown would have been unbearable.
I used to come to Kennington Park just to enjoy sunny days. But through the lockdown it became almost a daily visit and I have started to notice all the varieties of flowers and their amazing details ...each tree....the wildlife....And each season had its particular beauty. From the contrast of the yellow, pink, purple crocus with the white snow at the end of winter to the the blossoms falling from the trees and forming a colourful tapestry on the ground in spring. Or during a rainy day the drops of water on the leaves shining like a pearl. Or looking inside the puddles and see the reflection of a world upside down. Or the buzzing of the bees on a warm day finally out enjoying the nectar. This and so much more creates magic. In these times of heaviness in the world this flower reminds me of softness and lightness.
My favourite thing about Kennington Park is simply what a haven it has been to me and so many others during lockdown. The park welcomes all, irrespective of colour, gender, sexuality, socio-economic background, status, profession, ability/disability, race or any other difference. It's open to all on equal terms within its warm and inviting green pastures.
Walking into the park is free air
Coming from the city is rough
Rough roads, closed in,
In the city its one path
In the park space majestic
In the park multiple stories happen
The round swing is the best ever
My friend Joel pushes us so high
We nearly hit the sky (Joel Mc Pusher)
You’ve got the Bee man who is always buzzing
The natural nature
The flower garden where you would want to have a
You even have birds as well
You can see all kind of people
People laying on the grass getting away from reality
Over there a family
Everyone has a past, everyone has a future
In the park you don’t have to think about it
And obviously when people are here, they are free
To do what they want within REASON
Until it is time to leave, back to imprisonment
It’s open space and I don't have a garden at home, so it was really hard in lockdown – so very closed in and trapped.
My Kennington Teacher
When all of this goes away
A cool breeze
Through the fog
Here comes the sunshine
Only human souls
Come what may
If everything else fades away
I hope you will stay
My Kennington Teacher
When all of this goes away
I have loved coming to Kennington Park throughout lockdown for my daily walks with my dog. Meeting other dog owners whilst getting fresh air and some exercise has helped me keep a handle on my mental health. I’ve struggled with depression for 15 years and this lockdown has been a real test. But coming to the park has helped immensely!
Kennington Lockdown Story
It was a dark stormy night during the lockdown. People were at home. People lost their jobs, Depressed and Sad.
All the school children were even at home feeling miserable because they miss all their friends.
The whole of the UK had to get tested.
During Covid-19 people lost their lives. Which was a shock to people families & Friends.
After the lockdown was over people started going to their Jobs, School, and Colleges.
Kennington Park was open to the whole public being supportive and social distancing. Even when the prime mister AKA Boris Johnson told us we can go outside and exercise.
People were outside listening to the birds & Enjoying Nature
Kennington Park is a good place to be around.
And how do I know that?
Because I have been to this fantastic park many times. I also work at this place called Bee Urban.
Me Myself Joel I love the park because I love the fresh air & the public. We can have a picnic without any trouble.
Kennington Park helps me with my depression & Life. Going to the park helps me feel better.
I made a new friend during lockdown, after we met in Kennington Park, and for him I shall always be grateful.