Just a stroll in the park…

Photo: Luke Dray/Woodland Trust.

A couple of folk dodging the cars in Piccadilly? Well the Guardian says that ‘hundreds’ of us marched to Downing Street, which I guess is true, since every thousand is made up of hundreds (and scores and dozens)[Guardian later ‘updated’ its headline to thousands].  The police at Downing St told Chris Packham that there were around 10,000 folk involved in the Walk for Wildlife which sounds about right to me – oh yes, and a fly past by a Peregrine in Pall Mall too!

It rained – the #soddententhousand !

What a day full of lovely people who made the effort, raised their voices and opened their ears and played bird song as they walked through some slightly puzzled crowds in central London.

Great speeches by so many people – it would be invidious to pick out any but all those younger than 25 did quite brilliantly.

There were sharks and bats, badgers and trees, seals and beetles.  There must have been hunt sabs standing next to RSPB members, and FoE campaigners standing next to National Trust members – and they all cheered at the same places, they all wiped away a tear at the same moments and they all walked together for wildlife.  Great feeling!

The music was good too! I knew who Billy Bragg was – and he was brilliant.  I thought I didn’t know who Grace Petrie is – but actually I have listened to her work in the past without internalising her name (and she was brilliant too), but Saskia Eng was completely new to me and she has a wonderful voice. Chris sang too… oh well… 

I spotted two MPs at the walk – Caroline Lucas and Kerry McCarthy – thank you to both of them for coming.  If you are an MP and were there then let me know, please.  If you spotted an MP then let me know please.

Chris Packham, Sian Berry and Caroline Lucas MP

But if you have an MP – you do! – then please email or write to them this evening or tomorrow and ask them whether they were in Lndon with you, whether they have read the Manifesto for Wildlife and what they think of it, and how they will help wildlife in the future. And just end the letter by saying, who knows, there might be a general election just over the horizon and your MP’s answer to these questions might well influence your vote.

Michael Gove decided he was unable to meet the young marchers in Downing Street with Chris Packham and is rumoured to have been hiding somewhere behind a massive pile of dead badgers.

Photo: back of the camera shot Andy Rouse


33 Replies to “Just a stroll in the park…”

  1. Really great to be there. Can’t thank enough all those involved in making it happen.

    Walking through the London streets to the sounds of bird song and people chatting was a surreal experience, but not one I’ll forget for a while.

    I reckoned several thousand in the march and didn’t understand why the newspapers were quoting such small numbers.

    I couldn’t hear all the speeches unfortunately because I was too far back but I really hope the powers that be take notice. Fantastic event.

  2. It was an amazing day. The movement seems to be getting larger and hopefully it can be harnessed in the future to keep up the pressure.

    I was disappointed to miss most of your speech outside Downing Street as it was difficult to get near until they let more of us through the barriers, I hope to be able to see it on YouTube. I also want to see Dominic Dyers speech again. I don’t think I’d heard him before but he was awesome. The Turtle Dove Lament needs recording and put on iTunes, I need it in my collection.

    Thanks to all who organised it. Hope there are more!

  3. The sodden 10K indeed….a marvellous day that will live long in the memories of all who made the effort to be there…much like the sodden 570 way back when.
    Let’s hope the media cover it properly and get a grip on the true numbers present.

    Onwards and upwards.
    Ps I know many couldn’t get for various entirely valid reasons….
    Pps The young speakers were especially inspirational…

  4. The Independent also stated ‘hundereds’. I do not understand the reasons for this, for if they were actually there they would have seen thousands. It immediately gives a reader a sense that it was relatively a ‘non-event’ in the capital. What do the media want ? Hollywood stars ? We don’t need them. We do however need major UK newspapers to take such important events more seriously, as well as reporting the truth now and again. But hey – We stopped people in the streets, in cars, taxis. People waved,took photos and more jouned in. Horns of approval sounded in the city. Raptor and animal persecution placards were waved in front of The Ritz where the rich folk may well still be scoffing the Grouse. This walk was powerful and had so much meaning. #TheSodden10Thousand on a common sense mission, determined to win hearts and minds and to get action by our government.
    My tears were hidden by the rain pouring down my glasses today, when Dara poured out his poem. Many were moved by music and beautifully made signs and outfits. (I even managed to make an inoffensive Clash pun placard. Went down well. Which was nice) But I spent more time admiring and taking photos of others. Chatting to strangers. Meeting nice people who care. A lot. I came to London from W Yorkshire on my own. Slightly terrifying. But once there – not alone. It was fantastic and has done wonders for my mental health. As does the wildlife we all care about.
    I will write to my MP tomorrow. I’ll let you know what she says.

  5. Me too, and I was unwell during the 12:00 stuff – would love to see videos of speeches and the music if friendly nature lovers have time to upload this week!

  6. It really was the sodden ten thousand!! Complete with long walks! I thought I heard a peregrine but then I assumed I was going bats (no offence to bats intended!) so I’m really pleased to hear there was one!!!

  7. What a fantastic inspirational day, like minded people all coming together for all of our wildlife. It was truly remarkable, the children and teenagers were just brilliant. The conservationists of now and the future. I was so proud to be a part of this. Thanks go to everyone involved in the organisation, the speakers and of course “The People” When I’ve dried out I’ll be writing to my MP, although being Tory I won’t hold my breath.
    p.s. Pmsl at the last paragraph, do live your wit Mark.

  8. Hilarious to see the usual, deranged troll on Chris Packham’s facebook page, claiming that only 200 attended.

    1. I know what a pathetic bunch they are!!! Clearly such a load of utter crap, but they keep banging on and on about because it’s the only thing they can come up with, they’re really desperate – the excellent Peoples Manifesto For Wildlife coming out virtually simultaneously with the news NRW are banning pheasant shooting on public land in Wales must have twisted their guts – then the march is a big success, their only pathetic straw to clutch is misleading news headlines.

  9. Thank you to everyone who helped organise the People’s Walk for Wildlife. It was a great, inspiring day and the crowds were HUGE! Thank goodness!

    Mark, please could you remind everyone that events like this take money, lots of money, to put together. So far Chris Packham’s Crowdfunder appeal has raised only 16,000 pounds (32% of the target of 50,000 pounds.). I’d hate it if Chris and a few organisers were left with such a massive bill to pay.

    The Crowdfunder is available at


  10. What a fantastic inspirational day and to be in the company of so many who really care…..will never forget this . Dom Dyer and George Monbiot were stand out speakers and brought a lump to the throat. Hope it’s going to wake those up who are sleep walking into the abyss.

  11. Brilliant day. Thank you to all the organisers and to Chris Packham for bringing this about.
    And to those decision makers that this was aimed at, a question. Do you really want to see this again next year? Really? Bigger, better, louder? You can prevent the embarrassment.
    You can set about addressing these issues now!

  12. A massive thank you to all involved in organising, in speaking and in attending, you ALL did wildlife proud today. Without diminishing the numbers, let’s see the #soddententhousand as being the tip of the iceberg as the momentum continues to build 😉

    That the BBC didn’t really cover the event and others appear to be playing down numbers comes as no real surprise, a shame and some might even suggest a disgrace? That only a couple of MPs were spotted, thank you to them and shame on others but we must now get back to being ‘keyboard warriors’ for wildlife and ask some serious questions.

    We need that new tranche of Ministers in post as Gove is behaving like Nero in so far as his own backyard is concerned, hypocritical to preach to other countries when he presides over wildlife slaughter and turns a blind eye to wildlife crimes?

    Thank you Chris, Mark and ALL who took part in the #peopleswalkforwildlife

    Now to watch more of your snippets posted via social media 🙂

  13. A truly inspirational day, and I’m still buzzing. So many good things to remember – the costumes, the speeches, the sound of birdsong as we walked, and finding myself on the verge of tears a dozen times during the day (including during ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’, for crying out loud – I’m getting ridiculously emotional in my old age).
    More seriously, two things really struck me. Firstly, the large number of young people there – not just kids with their parents, enjoying the dressing up and the face painting, but lots of serious young adults who are conspicuously absent from some events.
    Secondly, I felt the emergence of a new body of conservation leaders of real and growing stature. People (like yourself, Mark) with original ideas and viewpoints, independent of the big NGOs, speaking frankly and from the heart instead of essentially reading statements prepared by press officers, carefully crafted to maximise votes, membership numbers and sponsorship deals. People who felt able to say what reallyneeded to be said, and with the skill and charisma to enthuse and motivate ‘ordinary’ members of the public.
    No doubt it will soon wear off, but I woke up feeling more hopeful today than for a very long time. Sincere thanks to everyone involved.

  14. Well done Chris, Mark and everyone else that made this happen. What a brilliant day. I spent most of the day with a huge grin on my face. The speeches, songs and costumes at the start gave me hope. The reactions of shoppers, tourists, police (weren’t they fantastic!), and bus drivers to the marchers and the accompanying birdsong lifted my heart. The speeches and petitioning at the end gave me the strong sense that this is the start of something.

    I met some lovely people along the way, and did most of the march in close proximity to a badger, a fish and a butterfly (I’m told this was author Patrick Barkham and family)

  15. Amazing day – what a success! Well done to Chris, Mark, Ruth etc. What a great feeling being surrounded by thousands of people who feel the same way about wildlife – it was really moving. I flew down from Scotland to be there and played the birdsong through an amplifier. Shame on Gove not turning up – hardly surrprising however. Will write to my MSP and MP.

  16. So sorry not to have been there Mark, not for the want of participating but I am in France just now and. Could not avoid it. Sounds like it was a fantastic day and a turn out of 10,000 plus, is fantastic. Great stuff Mark. Very many congratulations to all who organised the walk and all those that walked. Hopefully it will demonstrate to those awful antideluvian politicians the National strength of feeling towards our very threatened wildlife. tMost of them are awful, ( but not quite all).

  17. What a great event! Loved it. Although I had to travel a long way to get there, I’d willingly do it again. There were many thousands of us there but that is only the tip of the iceberg. We have to keep working to get all like minded folk engaged. At some point ‘they’ will have to listen.

    Oh yes, and I promise to e-mail my MP today.

  18. Hi there, top event. The birdsong idea was inspired. Thanks so much. In terms of reaching out to BME groups as Chris said – can we please reach out to more of these groups over the coming months? And not just to support manifesto but to learn from them. I suggest Garden Organic’s Community Growing initiatives, the Women’s Environmental Network and Muslim beekeepers in East London as good places but these are just the start. And some more diverse bands and artists to join the wonderful Billy Bragg!

  19. Keep at him, Les. His continual, bare-faced lies, and his woeful grasp of basic ecology are so very typical of his ilk. Even when faced with links to published scientific evidence he simply insults anyone who challenges him. The man’s a coward and a bully, and it’s a joy to see you kicking his sad and sorry arse all over the shop.

  20. There was at least 10,000, and I think this is probably an underestimate. The reason I was near the middle. In no part could I ever see the front or the end of the column. On the parts I could see, the column stretched for hundreds of yards. In other words I could see several thousand in front of me and behind me. I said in the mid part of the walk to someone that there must be at least 10,000, because in parts I could see close to what I estimated to be 7,000, and yet I could see neither end. Therefore I knew the overall total had to be much greater than it.

    I was especially impressed by the speeches of the younger people, who were inspired and inspiring. This is what we need, passionate controlled anger.

    I’m very upset by the lack of coverage by the media. There was actually more media coverage of one of the bioblitzs organized by Chris Packham I attended in July. It did seem quite deliberate.

    1. David, isn’t it up to all of us to ensure that it wasn’t a one off?
      If everybody there pledges to be there next year with at least one friend, what an impact.
      Let’s go for 20,000 in 2019, minimum.

    2. David – it would be great if this could be an annual event. However, it’s asking a lot to expect Chris Packham not only to do so much work to organize it, but also to be seriously out of pocket each time.
      The crowdfunder is still open, and still well below its target amount.

  21. My first ever demo (despite growing up through poll tax, student loans, Iraq and all the rest of it). And I loved every second of it, and am discussing it with everyone I meet. There is so much support for those who attended from those who couldn’t.

    It was a superb, peaceful event – it’s an oddly empowering feeling to have London stopped whilst people walk through it.

    My personal highlights were meeting Finlay Pringle and the Ullapool sea savers, watching Dara McAnulty’s recital (and his joy at completing it) and listening to Bella Lack. I thought Dom Dyer needed to switch back down to 33rpm (he seemed to be on 78) but I can see why others liked him.

    Well done to all the organisers, volunteers, attendees and London. Best day in decades for me.

  22. I missed out on getting sodden first time around, so it was good to fix that ^^ (and a break from the ongoing drought and 30C back home in southern France).

    I imagined this to be a one-off — it would be nice to think that one would be enough — but as with the Hen Harrier Days I’m quite prepared to continue until we get the issues sorted. This kind of event gives me hope that change is entirely achievable: the ideas are there, rational, positive and forward-thinking; the organisation is there, for a big event it ran so smoothly; the public support is there and vocal.

    I found it really uplifting to be part of this. I just wish it had got more coverage – the onlookers were clearly interested and enjoying watching 10,000 people celebrate wildlife and call for its protection, I’m sure the national viewing public would have been interested too !

    I’ve passed the manifesto around friends and family, and my MP will also be getting a copy.

  23. The Walk for Wildlife in London, what a memorable day. Loads of inspirational genuinely enthusiastic youngsters, giving us oldies hope for its continuance as we pass the somewhat beleaguered baton of conservation on to those whose words give us hope for a better future.

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