The Centre was founded in 1994 as part of the Royal Parks education programme. Its aim was to provide an inspirational space to experience Richmond Park. It became a separate charity in 1999 and the Centre celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014.
In 1991 Mike Fitt OBE, then Superintendent of Richmond Park, developed proposals as part of The Royal Parks’ education programme. His aim was to provide a fully accessible, inspiring focal point from which to experience the unique nature of Richmond Park. Soon after, Dr Pat Ealey, biologist and environmentalist, joined him on a six-week placement from St Mary’s College, Twickenham and began her twenty plus years involvement with the Centre which continued until her retirement in 2017.
Following three years of intensive planning, the Centre officially opened on 23 February 1994, under the umbrella of The Royal Parks. It became an independent charity in 1999. Since then the Centre has grown steadily, increasing its number of visitors, educational activities, facilities and volunteers. We now welcome nearly 8,500 visitors a year.
Some highlights are:
- 2002 - received a grant to develop new activities as part of the European Year of the Disabled
- 2005 - received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
- 2007 - HRH Princess Alexandra agreed to become Royal Patron
- 2012 - Dr Pat Ealey was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list
- 2014 - celebrated its 20th anniversary
- 2015 - Sir David Attenborough becomes Patron of the Centre and opens the newly refurbished nature trail
- 2017 - awarded the Quality Badge from “Learning Outside the Classroom” for its outstanding educational provision.