On Thursday, May 2, you will be asked to cast your votes for the Mayor of London and GLA Assembly members, for the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner and for Essex County and Epping Forest District Councillors.

Epping Forest is conserved by the City of London Corporation as a registered charity and is the largest free open space in both London and Essex.

How it is policed, how planning policy impacts visitor pressure, how air and water quality impact the health and wellbeing of local biodiversity, and how public transport supports accessibility are all important matters, decided by those you are being asked to vote for.

My request to you all is to ask your candidates what they have done (and are doing) to support Epping Forest. Tell them how important protecting this green space is to you and your family.  Showing your support for the protection of the ‘Green Lungs of London’ matters, and it matters most at the ballot box. Now is the time to speak up!

There are other ways you can help make a difference in Epping Forest – and one of them is by volunteering.

Last month, I was delighted to host the Forest’s first ever ‘Lend a Hand Day’, which saw lots of new faces coming along to have a go at the many opportunities we have suited to a range of skills and abilities. 

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ben Murphy hosted the Forest's first ever Lend a Hand DayBen Murphy hosted the Forest's first ever Lend a Hand Day

We have also recently launched a Volunteer Guide, which gives information on opportunities where you can get involved as little, or as often, as you wish.

The benefits of volunteering are enormous, from learning new skills and meeting new friends to improving health and wellbeing and achieving a sense of fulfilment.

I was particularly pleased to see lots of families coming together and enjoying the great outdoors whilst giving something back to their local community.

In Epping Forest, 12,637 volunteer hours were donated last year. That might sound like a lot, but that’s just 1.3 volunteer hours a year for every acre of the Forest. These hours are also donated by a relatively small number of hard-working volunteers. We would like your support to bring even more benefits to this unique ancient woodland.

If you are interested in trying your hand at volunteering, check out our guide at: cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/epping-forest/volunteer-at-epping-forest.

As the weather begins to warm up and the evenings get lighter, I encourage you to take the opportunity to visit Chingford Golf Course. It’s a fantastic way to experience the surrounding Forest, whilst socialising with friends and family and taking some light exercise. For more information and to book please visit: chingfordgolfcourse.co.uk 

Looking ahead to the summer months, I am pleased to announce that we have a wonderful programme of Open Air Theatre planned at The Temple in Wanstead Park.

The season starts on Sunday, July 21, with The Gondoliers and we have three more productions planned for your delight with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ on August 3, The Hound of the Baskervilles on August 13 and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle on August 24. So, save the dates and keep an eye on our social media channels when booking opens.

  • Ben Murphy is chairman of the City Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee.