It was with great sadness that we learnt that Ken Hoy who did so much to develop environmental education both locally and nationally passed away last Saturday.
Ken grew up in Peel Road, South Woodford, where the garden of his house adjoined the forest which he quickly grew to love.
He wrote of being “euphoric” after being offered the post of Field Studies Teacher at Jubilee Retreat in 1962, following nine years as a teacher at Whitehall School. It was in 1967 that Ken became the first Head of Suntrap and supported by Cate Hickling received the first classes at Suntrap, having worked hard for months preparing the semi-derelict former hospital for its first groups.
His philosophy from the start was that anything the children did on their visits to the Forest should be of educational value as long as these activities could not be undertaken at school. In those very early visits at Jubilee Retreat, 20 children were put on a bus (without their teacher) and Ken had sole charge of them until he put them back on the bus to return to school. The LBWF Education Office (“The Office” as he put) left Ken to devise his own programme and way of working.
He set a high standard, bringing recognition to the Borough as one of the foremost leaders of environmental education, providing quality outdoor learning to every pupil in the Borough. Within a few years every child in Waltham Forest was taught at Suntrap on a regular basis for one year of their primary schooling, learning right across the curriculum, from maths and art to geology and history. Learning about the natural world was inevitable and in this field Ken was an expert.
50 years on Suntrap tries to keep to this way of working as devised by Ken – albeit children are now accompanied by their teachers!
I was very pleased to be appointed to take up his mantle and it was of great value to get to know him and gain from his experience as Honorary President of Friends of Suntrap. I went to see him in December and was able to let him know about our plans to mark 50 years of Suntrap, including developing a new wild flower meadow in the Suntrap grounds. I think he was really pleased with our plans and that children and families are still coming to Suntrap to learn more about Epping Forest.
Head of Suntrap – Traded Services
London Borough of Waltham Forest
Suntrap Forest Education Centre
Church Road, High Beach, Loughton, Essex, IG10 4AJ