THE Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park are celebrating after the Green Flag was raised on the Land Trust site in Upton.

This was the first time the Countess had received the award and it joined four other Land Trust sites recognised by Green Flag in 2018.

The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the UK and globally.

The flag was raised by Land Trust chief executive Euan Hall and the ceremony was attended by the MP for the City of Chester, Chris Matheson, plus Susan Gilby, acting chief executive officer of the Countess of Chester Hospital.

The award was a recognition of a site that has become a real heart of the community over the last four years.

Since opening in 2014, the park has become a key attraction, not only for local residents, but also for patients, staff and visitors to the adjacent Countess of Chester hospital, attracting over 40,000 visitors every year.

A Health for Life project was run on the site with 272 participants taking part in a range of activities which were academically evaluated by the Natural Health Service Centre of Excellence with participants reporting spending more time outdoors and feeling healthier and happier as a result.

This year saw the start of what has become a well-attended Brightlife funded project, focused primarily on over 50s but also including younger participants, which takes place every Friday.

The group has built an allotment which has provided food for the homeless, it is creating a wildlife nature reserve, rescuing an abandoned community orchard and much more – contact Neil McMahon on 07740 899716 for more details.

There is also a weekly parkrun on a Saturday morning which has seen thousands of participants enjoy running around the picturesque trails.

The site is fortunate to have a very active community group, the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park, which organises activities and volunteering opportunities and are nearing the completion of 'Fallen for the Fallen', a project which commemorates 100 years since the end of the first World War.

Sarah Palgrave-Neath, estates manager for the Land Trust, said: "It was lovely to see the Green Flag raised at the Countess of Chester and the accolade is real recognition of the fantastic work that has been done on the site since the park opened in 2014.

"Working with our managing partners, The Conservation Volunteers, our passionate volunteer workforce, and with the adjacent hospital the site has delivered some fantastic outcomes for the park users and the surrounding community."