Goodbye, friend

Stuart Monro, born 15 June 1938, died 7 September 2017 Stuart Monro, born 15 June 1938, died 7 September 2017

Stuart Monro, who died in early September, was a videographer and founder of the campaign for Wanstead Park. Friends of Wanstead Parklands members explain why the important work Stuart did will live on.

In the summer of 2005, Stuart Monro contacted several people who were interested in Wanstead Park's history and invited them to his home to discuss ways to promote the park and lobby for its preservation and improvement. The group was formalised as the Wanstead Parklands Community Project, which initially had about a dozen members.

Within a short time, successful bids for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Nationwide building society enabled Stuart to devote his time and expertise to producing a series of DVDs describing various aspects of the history and natural history of the park. These were well received by the local community and are still in demand as a means of bringing Wanstead Park to a wider audience. Stuart also arranged promotional events in local venues. His films of these events demonstrated the strength of local support for the campaign for Wanstead Park.

In June 2009, Wanstead Park, largely due to lobbying from the Community Project, was included in English Heritage's Heritage at Risk Register. This prompted the group to sponsor the reactivation of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, a membership-based organisation which had been dormant for some years. The object was to provide the park's custodians with a more broadly based partner than the Community Project which, though active and effective, was a small, self-selected committee. It was felt that an active Friends group would be better placed to assist with the challenging task of removing the park from the register. At the inaugural meeting, Stuart screened a specially produced DVD about the park.

Today, the Friends of Wanstead Parklands is an organisation with hundreds of members. It has built on the work begun by Stuart and the expertise of its members has materially contributed to the development of plans to secure Wanstead Park's long-term future.

Prior to the launch of the campaign for Wanstead Park, Stuart had been a resident of Wanstead for more than two decades. After studying drama at Bristol University and film at the London School of Film, Stuart made his living producing videos. In 2016 a retrospective was held at Morley College at which a selection of the films he had made were shown. Stuart's gift for telling stories may have had something to do with being the stepson of popular children's TV presenter Johnny Morris. Stuart certainly brought the same infectious enthusiasm to his work.

Stuart collapsed suddenly at home on 7 September. He died with his wife, Charlotte, by his side, and to her we will give the last word: "Stuart, we love you so much and so many other people do. My support, my life sharer, Anna's dad and soulmate. He has given so much... His films, his wisdom, and his great love and loyalty to people, and his humour. And what he has given will live on in all of us."

To view some of Stuart's videos on Wanstead Park, visit

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