Windfall to perk up park's health benefits

Improvements to a popular community park could see it used as part of care packages for people with health problems.

Work at Queen Elizabeth Park, Grantham, will be paid for thanks to a grant of more than £21,000 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, plus almost £9,000 from South Kesteven District Council.

The Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park (FQEP) in partnership with the district council applied to the Government's Pocket Parks Plus programme.

One of the aims of the work is to promote use of the park for regular exercise. The Friends group and SKDC plan to contact health professionals to investigate opportunities for using the park as part of patient care packages.

The 25-acre Queen Elizabeth Park was designed to commemorate the Queen Mother's 80thbirthday and opened in 1980.

The Friends secretary Elizabeth Bowskill said: "During the park's early years a series of carefully planned projects were completed to provide the community with a conservation park, with facilities specifically designed to support the needs of the young, old and those less able-bodied.

"Sadly, with the passage of time the park now falls short of the original objectives. This project provides us with the opportunity to refurbish the site and reclaim its original intent."

The grant will help develop a wildflower meadow; pay for new litter bins and seating; welcoming and interpretation signs; development of a nature trail; new fishing platforms for the park pond; ecological studies; wheelchair-friendly picnic tables; and help attract new volunteers.

Cllr Nick Robins, SKDC's Cabinet Member for Retail and Visitor Economy, said the work also offered the potential for the park to link up, and be part of, cycle routes.

"This grant is great news for Queen Elizabeth Park," he said. "We want the park to play its part in encouraging healthier lifestyles. The project will create all sorts of volunteering opportunities that will enable people to directly connect with nature, while engagement with health professionals and schools will allow us to sell the health benefits of our parks.

"As well as everything else that is planned, we are also aiming to achieve and maintain Green Flag status for the park."

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