Parks restoration project is celebrated
A celebration event has marked the culmination of a five year project to restore Berwick town centre's parks.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) scheme has regenerated Coronation and Castle Vale Parks.
Plans driven by local friends of the parks, developed by Northumberland County Council and supported by Berwick Town Council, were awarded a £890,700 grant from HLF along with funding from both councils.
The project has restored shelters and pavilions, reinstated the original Lily Pond, improved paths and seen the planting of new trees, shrubs, plants and bulbs.
A new wildflower meadow has been created and new visitor information and interpretation facilities provided, while the project has also opened up fantastic views of the River Tweed.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services at the county council, said: “This project has transformed these parks into a stunning attraction for Berwick.
“It has been a tremendous voluntary effort, with 17 of the local volunteers putting in almost 8,300 hours during the scheme. They have worked with our own county council staff and with Berwick Town Council to make this a wonderful place and they should be hugely proud of their achievements.
“With annual visitor numbers to the park having grown from over 111,000 in 2012 to over 177,000 in 2017, the figures speak for themselves and I am sure more and more people will come and enjoy these beautiful areas.
“I would like to sincerely thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for their enormous support for the project, and to everyone who has worked so hard to make the parks what they are today.”
Mayor of Berwick Brian Douglas said: “The response of the public to the scheme has been amazing. It has opened up fantastic views of the River Tweed and made these sites really worth a visit when in this beautiful historic town. Everyone has played their part and we all look forward to further developments here.”
Parks development officer Kate Dixon has been employed throughout the life of the project to work with volunteers to involve the local community in events and activities.
The parks remain a high priority for the county council’s neighbourhood services team and with some financial assistance from the town council, it has been possible to continue the parks development officer post beyond the end of the HLF-funded project.
Volunteers have played a key role in ensuring the community has been able to enjoy the parks and to positively contribute to the improvement work and the ongoing maintenance needed in the parks.
The project has sought to create opportunities for schools and other groups to use the parks as a learning space with opportunities to gain new skills such as willow weaving and horticulture
The parks achieved a Green Flag Award in 2015 and have retained this ever since, while they have also gained gold awards from Northumbria In Bloom in both 2016 and 2017.
Coun Catherine Seymour, county councillor for Berwick North said: “It was a pleasure to watch the creation and development of these parks for the benefit of the community.
“I am delighted that the parks post is to continue along with the dedicated volunteers that have given so much of their time to regenerate the parks. Many thanks to everyone involved in the funding and support of this successful project”
The council will continue to work with stakeholders and partners including the town council, The Friends, the Berwick Wildlife Group, Berwick Army Cadets, Berwick Youth Group and Berwick in Bloom to ensure that the improvements brought about through the project are sustained and built on in to the future. It will also welcome new partnerships with community groups and volunteers.