Hawick park future is in volunteers’ hands

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Volunteers are invited to help shape the future of ­Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park as its £3million-plus makeover programme rolls out.

New part-time volunteer coordinator Lisa Brydon is urging anyone interested to get in touch as the £3.64million regeneration of the town’s museum and popular park unfolds.

Lisa said: “We are excited about the possibilities that the regeneration project for the park will bring. From the walled garden to events in the park, we hope there will be a number of ways in which people can invest their time and talents.”

Plans include recreating a historic bandstand, refurbishing the walled garden into a centre for community horticulture and training, a new café (with link bridge across the Teviot), moving and improving the children’s play area and adding an outdoor classroom to Hawick Museum over the next five years. Cash will also go towards providing events and activities and volunteer training. And a park gallery is planned, to interpret the history of Wilton Lodge and the park and explore the park’s natural history.

Funding is from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£2.6 million) and the council.

Work started in the walled garden last Wednesday and volunteers will carry on meeting weekly, initially to clear the site, then to grow vegetables and help with a therapeutic garden.

The four main volunteering areas at the moment are museum (research, working with collections and supporting museum activities), walled garden, events (stewarding, hospitality, artist liaison, traffic management, leafleting, providing information for events) and wildlife recording (gathering flora and fauna information including survey work and passing the information on to other organisations).

Lisa said: “This list is not exhaustive, I’m open to folks’ ideas and how we may be able to engage volunteers in other areas further down the line: the park is a big place – 109 acres – with lots of scope.

She continued: “I love working with people, especially volunteers. I also like the challenge of new projects in their infancy, getting them off the ground and taking them forward. The final draw was the walled garden and the community gardening volunteering.

“I’ve always been interested in this type of project and saw it as an opportunity to engage as many people of the community as possible and develop it as everyone’s garden with the added bonus of growing veg and fruit which we can eat and also enjoy the benefits of being outside in the natural environment.

“I hope to achieve a greater awareness of the park,even though it’s already well used, and in particular attract people who might not have used or visited the park previously and also to make the park a model volunteering project, making it as inclusive as possible for the benefit of everyone locally and further afield.”

Lisa was previously a community woodland officer with Borders Forest Trust and still works freelance with the charity. One of the founder members of the Scottish Borders Badger Group (now disbanded), ecology graduate Lisa also previously worked on the Tweed Valley Osprey Project.

For more information on volunteering contact Lisa Brydon on 07580 788617 or email at lisa.brydon@scotborders.gov.uk