Christopher and Joan Sutherland came to the Park in 1984. In June they purchased Unit 31 from Mr Elton, who was the treasurer of the Company, then known as BlueBird Super Guardian. They paid £8,000. They were interviewed by Mr PF Broom and JH Cancellor. These are the bare bones on the exchange contract in the office.
What follows is from Arthur Ling, who was appointed by Chris Sutherland, to be the Parks contractor and where would we be without him?
Both Chis and Joan were East Enders, Chris a builder by trade. Together they built 3 houses, each time making a bit of money. But their final home in Essex was not a home, it was a flat. Because they bought Holton Hall Park Caravan at the same time and this was where their lives were.
The Park was all Joan thought about. After she’d sold Number 30 Sleepy Valley in 2017, she spoke to Arthur once a week, on a Sunday, to find out how the Park was. After Chris died, she did the same, and so it was Arthur spoke to her a week before she died.
The Park was all she thought about, and she worked on it with such a passion. She’d go round the woodland paths with her secateurs, cutting back any brambles making sure the way was clear. Naturally she was on the Conservation Committee and her voice is throughout all the minutes, challenging, and protecting.
When they first came, the meadow was full of self seeded saplings and ragwort, which they pulled out by hand. It as Chris and Joan who started off the hay. Farmers from Long Stratton came to harvest it and paid good money for the bales – records show we got £400 one year! (2001 Hay cut August Sold £625 (£1.25 per bale) at a cost of £400. Profit 225)
The Lake was Joan’s passion too. She bought waders, and organised work parties to wade into the lake to pull out the reeds. Marion Barns used to bring over tea and cake.
Joan planted all the snow drops we see at the Park. Starting in the Dell, where the Bucktorn was planted. This was another of her projects which we’ve just restored, and Chris Harris has made a sign for it, called Joan’s Dell.
When I first came to the Park, she walked me round, and it was from Joan i first heard the name of the plant that carpets our woodland, Dogs Mercury, and so I think of her when I say the name and see it. Her legacy on the Park is her passion for it that is remembered and admired.
Rachel Kellett October 2019