“As a local politician I learned that life is really hard for so many: living in tiny, overcrowded accommodation, with no outdoor space. I yearn to see this park liberated from its years of neglect and fulfil its potential: an open, green, rolling landscape; fascinating woods and wildlife; decent playgrounds; accessible sports, music and events. A place to have fun, be active and explore its Victorian mysteries. An urban paradise.”
“I love the view here, where I come frequently to picnic. You can see for miles and miles.” Val Shawcross, photographed on the park’s terraces, with its sweeping vistas over south London.
Photo © Kit Oates
Val began her career working in Overseas Development as a project manager and travelled widely for the Commonwealth Secretariat. She grew active in local politics in the 1990s, becoming Council Leader in Croydon and then moving on to be elected as a London Assembly member representing Lambeth and Southwark in the 2000s, when she fought against Boris Johnson’s initiative to sell the park’s historic terraces to a property developer. She Chaired London’s Fire Brigade for 8 years and was appointed by Ken Livingstone as his lead member for Crystal Palace Park. Sadiq Khan appointed her as Deputy Mayor for London Transport and Deputy Chair of Transport for London.
After retiring from full-time politics she has worked part time promoting sustainable transport and served for a period as the voluntary Chair of Crystal Palace Park Trust. Val rejoined the Trust in a new capacity as CEO in July 2023. She, her husband and two cats live in Upper Norwood.