Hawick park vying to be named best in UK

Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park is in the running to be named the best in the UK.

Councillors, from left, Stuart Marshall, George Turnbull and Watson McAteer celebrating Wilton Lodge Park claiming green flag status for the first time in July last year.
Councillors, from left, Stuart Marshall, George Turnbull and Watson McAteer celebrating Wilton Lodge Park claiming green flag status for the first time in July last year.

The 43-hectare park, given a £3.64m revamp completed last year, is one of only just over 40 Scottish contenders to be given the title of 2019’s best park by the charity Fields in Trust, formerly the National Playing Fields Association.

The winner will be decided by an online public vote open until noon on Monday, August 19, at www.fieldsintrust.org/best-park/nominations

National awards will be handed out to the most popular parks in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and an overall winner will then be picked from that shortlist of four and announced next month.

Borders MP John Lamont and, right, Hawick and Denholm councillor Neil Richards in Wilton Lodge Park.

Wilton Lodge Park is the only one in the Borders to be given green flag status by Keep Scotland Beautiful, an accolade it retained for a second year last month.

Urging Borderers to vote online for their only contender, John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “This is great news for Hawick to have made it onto the shortlist for the title of best park in the UK.

“I regularly use the park when running from my office in Hawick, and after massive investment recently, it is looking fantastic.

“I’d certainly encourage everyone in the Borders to get voting and see if we can get Wilton Lodge Park crowned the best park in Scotland or even the UK.”

The town’s councillors are backing that plea to Teries to cast votes for their home-town’s nominee.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Neil Richards said: “People are rightly proud of Wilton Lodge Park. It’s a great asset to Hawick.

“With the new playpark and cafe, walled garden, Zandra Elliot bandstand, Hawick Museum and improved walking and cycle paths, there really is something for everyone, which is why this nomination is really fitting.

“Hopefully, we’ll be getting some better weather soon so that people can enjoy the outside space to its fullest, but I hope everyone will take a couple of minutes to go online and vote before August 19.”

Fellow Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall said: “Winning green flag status for the second year in a row is a real shot in the arm for this award-winning park and a ringing endorsement by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

“The regeneration of this area will most certainly add to the visitor numbers to our town, and one can only hope that the recent daft announcement by Scottish Borders Council to scrap the beautiful floral displays within it will finally make this ruling administration sit up and genuinely accept its true and natural beauty.”

Clair Ramage, the ward’s other councillor, said: “Wilton Lodge Park was recently awarded green flag status again, and the community are rightly proud of the park with everything that it has to offer, from its waterfall walk to its 3G pitch, Zandra Elliot bandstand and so much more.

“It is a park that I myself visit frequently to walk the dog, visit the art gallery or to take my granddaughter to the playpark and cafe and, as a town, we are rightly proud of this asset.”

The town’s honorary provost, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, added: “Wilton Lodge Park is very deservedly being nominated for the title of best UK park.

“Hawick folk are already convinced we have the finest park in the country following a £3.64m Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Borders Council-funded renovation.

“More recently, the park has offered a fantastic place to respect those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Boar War and first and second world wars.

“The children’s play area and new cafe provide a unique experience for locals and visitors.

“All of this is set in a wonderfully coloured and vibrant landscape interspersed by the slow-flowing River Teviot.

“We are all very proud of this historic facility and are keeping our fingers crossed for more success and recognition.”