About Hyde Park Appeal
Hyde Park Appeal was founded in 1990 initially to recreate the horse ride link between Hyde Park Corner and Speakers Corner, to be called the Dorchester Ride.
Once plans for this had started it was realized that more things would follow and in 1991 the Hyde Park Appeal was officially formed into a charity to carry out various projects within Hyde Park.
His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO agreed to be the Patron.
History of Hyde Park Appeal
A brief history of what has been achieved in the 20 years since then:
- 1991 - The Dorchester Ride was officially opened by His Royal Highness on horseback
- 1993 - Her Majesty The Queen officially opened The Queen Elizabeth Gate, built to celebrate the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
- 1995 - A children’s riding arena was built opposite Clarendon Gate and a riding scheme for local state school children was started
- 1997 - The long planned scheme for completely free transport for people with restricted mobility was started with one electric vehicle and one driver, using a shared garage behind the old Police House. The scheme was called “LIBERTY DRIVES”
- 1998 - A portacabin office was provided in Triangle car park and a second vehicle, adapted for wheelchair users, was acquired
- 1999 - A third vehicle was acquired, an operations manager was appointed and the scheme extended to cover Kensington Gardens. Additional drivers were recruited, bringing the total up to eight
- 2002 - A fourth vehicle was acquired with a roof and windscreen, all new vehicles by this time were adapted for wheelchair users
- 2003 - One of our vehicles totally malfunctioned and had to be replaced
- 2004 - We were provided with a new, larger garage as we had outgrown the old one
- 2005-2008 - LIBERTY DRIVES was extended to provide a service for disabled users for the Promenade Concerts in the Park and subsequently to cover the concert season in Hyde Park and was an active promoter of improved facilities for the disabled at all concerts. During this period we also started to help specialist organisations with their annual days out in the Park, these included Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, PHAB, Cancerkin and various other groups
- 2008 - LIBERTY DRIVES was recognized by National Heritage as the leading scheme of its type in the country
- 2009 - A fifth vehicle was acquired and by this time we had recruited a team of twenty drivers
- 2010 - The Royal Parks Agency provided us with a new permanent office in Triangle car park.
The Queen Elizabeth Gate was seriously damaged by a lorry and the Hyde Park Appeal arranged for the Gate to be removed, repaired and replaced within two weeks. The contractors who had caused the damage were so grateful for our speedy assistance that they donated a sixth vehicle
- 2011 - A computer system was installed in the Hyde Park office to handle the many people who now wish to contact LIBERTY DRIVES using email
- A new combined website for Hyde Park Appeal and LIBERTY DRIVES to provide our users with more detailed information
- Hyde Park Appeal carried out the widening of the Clarendon Gate thereby allowing horses to pass in and out of Hyde Park safely since other gates were often closed due to an increase in the number of events in Hyde Park
- 2012 – LIBERTY DRIVES vehicles and volunteers continued to provide services to park visitors with the exception of the two week period of the Olympic Games. A highlight of the 2102 LIBERTY DRIVES season was the opportunity to provide transportation services for more than 500 of the guests attending the dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The organization had its beginning with the launch of an initiative to create a horse ride from which Hyde Park Appeal was born.
Twenty years later Hyde Park Appeal has gone on to make a number of enduring contributions including the establishment of a national monument (The Queen Elizabeth Gate in Hyde Park), on-going support of free weekly horse riding lessons for 100 children coordinated by state schools, and the development of the LIBERTY DRIVES initiative.
With the arrival of 2013, the LIBERTY DRIVES programme now has six fully equipped vehicles and will be starting its 16th season. In the previous 15 years we estimate having assisted well in excess of 250,000 visitors whose ability to see the Parks in a meaningful way was potentially very limited. Hyde Park Appeal is very proud of its accomplishments to date and very excited about the future at a time when Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens continue to grow as a target destination for Londoners and visitors to the city alike .
Without the ongoing support of our Patron,
His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO,
none of the above could have been achieved and for this we are extremely grateful.
The Royal Parks Agency and their Staff have provided invaluable assistance, and they, together with our very special team of Volunteers, have made the whole programme possible. It is my fervent hope that these contributions will be enjoyed and appreciated by visitors to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens today and in the years to come.
Richard Briggs OBE
Chairman, Hyde Park Appeal