From Bushy Park to the Falkland Islands

When a temporary job transfer meant missing her regular Park Run, Teddington resident Annie Bailey swapped her regular Park Run to the Cape Pembroke Lighthouse in the Falklands. Cathy Cooper explores how our local park shares common ground with one of the world’s most far-flung places… 

Most people have heard of the famous Park Run, which started life locally in Bushy Park but has since spread throughout the UK and well beyond our shores.

The first Park Run – on 2nd October 2004 – was a very low-key event attended by only 13 people. It continued for another two years, growing in popularity, before moving to Wimbledon Common and beyond. 

Today, the free-for-all 5km fun run on Saturday morning for adults (and a shorter 2km on Sundays for children) is now held in locations worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of runners being processed. The headquarters of the charity is situated on Twickenham’s iconic Eel Pie Island, and local runners can also take part in the event amid the beautiful surroundings of Crane Park.

While the pandemic put a halt to the Park Run for a prolonged period, the event is now back securely ‘on its feet’ with an average of over 750 finishers per week in Bushy Park.

When a job transfer to the Falklands meant missing her usual Bushy Park run for a few months, Teddington resident Annie Bailey was delighted to find a Park Run event near her new surroundings, at Cape Pembroke Lighthouse. Annie’s participation in this weekly event was even mentioned in their local Penguin News with Bushy Park getting all the credit.

Back on home turf Annie is also a volunteer in the Visitor Centre for the Friends of Bushy and Home Park, and her husband Peter is a volunteer ranger in the Park.  They both spent six years in the Falklands a decade ago and, amongst other jobs, Peter was employed as a penguin warden. While Annie has temporarily returned to the Falklands, she spends her free time spotting seals, whales, penguins and albatrosses instead of the stags, herons and swans of her home town.

Until very recently this was the most Southern event in the world but, although the terrain is similar to Bushy Park with its acid grasslands, the winds in the Falklands are a force to be reckoned with.

Last December the new scientific polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough called into its home port, Stanley, en route to its first season in Antarctica. The ship was famously known as Boaty McBoatface in the public opinion polls but was officially named after our own Richmond resident in 2016.  

This was a big event for the FalkIanders and Annie took the opportunity to book a helicopter flight to see it from the air.

Due to the connection and proximity with the Antarctic Continent, the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust has funded an expedition which hopes to locate the remains of The Endurance, the famed ship of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.  This most historic and as yet undiscovered shipwreck in the world is estimated to be lying 2-3,000 metres below the Weddell Sea near where she sank in 1915. The expedition left South Africa in February.

It’s nice to know that one of our own is keeping up with events the other end of the world.

For more information on Bushy and Home Parks visit fbhp.org.uk

For Park Run visit parkrun.org.uk

Credit: Words Cathy Cooper


Cathy Cooper

Twickenham Wildlife Photographer

cathycooper.photography

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