Prudhoe project recognised in national awards
23 Feb 2021
Work which has helped to rejuvenate Eastwoods Park in Prudhoe has been recognised on a national stage, in the recent Keep Britain Tidy Network awards.
In recent years the park has seen many improvements; including a new play area, a new multi-use games area, new seating, basketball nets, a unique dog exercise area, and the renovation of the old bowls pavilion to become a café and community hub.
The Network Awards take place each year and mark excellence and innovation in improving local environmental quality. The Eastwoods Park project was one of only three shortlisted nationally in the category of ‘Community Engagement’.
The Community Engagement Award rewards action that has empowered communities to take responsibility and contribute to improving the quality of their local environment.
In Prudhoe, Sam Talbot, the council’s green spaces officer and her colleagues in the local services team, have worked in partnership with the local community and local county councillors to turn around Eastwoods Park from a largely neglected space that had been an old Miner's Welfare area, to a park achieving prestigious Green Flag status in 2020. It achieved top marks for community involvement from the Green Flag judges.
Work started with a lot of community consultation undertaken by Sam working with the town council to speak to children and older residents to work out how to improve the park and get the best out of it for local people.
Consolidating and improving play areas was identified as a top priority, but several other projects were also put forward, and as a result, the park has gradually been updated to provide better facilities to serve the local community.
The project had very strong support from a lot of local organisations and individuals, including Prudhoe Town Council, the Friends of Eastwoods Park, Prudhoe Youth Club FC, the Friends of Prudhoe Woods and many more.
Local county councillor for the park area, Cllr Gordon Stewart, has also been a volunteer on the project and instrumental in getting lots of things done there. He says: “I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have played a part in getting Eastwoods Park to where it is today – a fantastic area that can be enjoyed by local residents of all ages.
“It has been great working with Sam and the team at the council, and also with all of the community volunteers and supporters. While the county council carries out maintenance, facilities in the park are now largely looked after by local community representatives too – which is fantastic.”
Capital funding have been provided by the county council and Prudhoe Town Council for the play area, MUGA and seating, and Prudhoe Youth Club FC raised a huge amount of money to improve the old cricket pavilion. County councillors Gordon Stewart and Ken Stow also contributed funding from their local members small schemes budgets.
Cllr Jeff Watson, cabinet member responsible for parks at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a great example of a local partnership project making an immense difference to an important area of community open space.
“At this current time green spaces like this have become ever more important, as they allow residents to be able to safely enjoy some fresh air and exercise in their local area, improving their physical and mental health and sense of wellbeing.
“I commend Sam and her colleagues, along with our local county councillors and everyone in the community who has played a part in this excellent work.
“We have 11 Green Flag parks across Northumberland, and I would also thank all of the teams and communities who have helped us to achieve them all.”
At the Network Award finals the Eastwoods Park project was a runner-up, with Walsall Council in the West Midlands winning for their Community Litter Watch project.