Four Worcester parks win national awards
For the second year running four of Worcester's parks have been named as among the very best in the entire country – with each of them awarded a coveted Green Flag award.
The awards have been announced at a time when millions of people are seeing the value of having great quality green spaces on their doorstep.
Gheluvelt Park, Cripplegate Park, Fort Royal Park and the Riverside Park have all reached the exacting standards demanded by the prestigious Green Flag Awards.
The award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world.
The four Worcester parks are among more than 2,000 sites across the country to collect the award for 2020.
Councillor Joy Squires, Chair of Worcester City Council's Environment Committee, said: "These awards are a real tribute to the City Council's hard-working parks staff, volunteers and the parks' Friends groups. They are all committed to ensuring that our city continues to have a range of beautiful parks where our residents can get away from the pressures of life and find peace in the majesty of nature.
"At a time of such uncertainty, I know that our wonderful parks are appreciated and enjoyed by more people than ever."
Cripplegate Park is located to the west of the city on New Road, opposite the County Cricket ground. The park boasts stunning flower beds; separate play areas for toddlers through to teens; bowling greens and five brand new tennis courts. There is also a striking, nine-foot sculpture of a poppy, created in honour of the men of the Worcestershire Yeomanry who were killed in First World War battles in the Egyptian desert.
Situated on Barbourne Road in the north of the city, Gheluvelt Park attracts nearly a million visitors a year. It is home to the fantastically popular Splashpad water fountain – loved by families across the city. The Splashpad was part of a £1.4m Heritage Lottery Fund-backed makeover in 2010, which also brought a specially commissioned war memorial feature, new play area and a refurbished bandstand. Gheluvelt Park is on Historic England's official Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Twelve houses built within the park for disabled servicemen have Grade II Listed status, along with its bandstand, entrance arch, gates and railings. Two newly refurbished tennis courts have just opened in the park.
Fort Royal Park is located south-east of the city centre, with the main entrance on Wylds Lane. Fort Royal Park is of critical historical significance to the city, as the site of the 1651 Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War. It was also visited by the second and third Presidents of the United States of America, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were keen to see the site they regarded as the place where democracy was effectively born. The park boasts stunning views of the city and a fantastic playground, containing innovative play equipment with a Civil War theme, designed for a range of age groups.
The Riverside Park stretches from the boundary of Pitchcroft in the north down to Diglis Bridge in the south. The land in the 83.9-hectare park is owned and managed by the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire County Council, Severn Trent Water, and the Canal and River Trust – as well as the City Council itself. Those partners have come together to manage the area as a park, and a programme of upcoming work will include improvements to the paths and landscaping, new signage at the entrances to the park, and new seating and other street furniture.
Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: "This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.
"It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of parks staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, these four Worcester parks have achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award."
Tonight Worcester's Guildhall be will be lit up green in celebration of the city securing the four Green Flags and as a massive thank you to the parks staff, volunteers and friends. It will be joining other sites across the country that will be going green for the night, including the White Cliffs of Dover at Samphire Hoe, the London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Salford's Media City.