6th March 2017
City of Chester MP Chris Matheson and Sheriff of Chester Cllr Myles Hogg visited the Countess of Chester Country Park to see for themselves how important the park is to those who live and work in the city.
Invited by Chester parkrun Event Director Matthew Dowsett, they arrived early on Saturday morning to find out how the weekly and free 5km time trial changes lives by giving people of all levels the chance to take part in friendly, outdoor exercise on a regular basis, and also offers a regular community event that brings people together.
After waving the participants off, Mr Matheson and Mr Hogg spent time with Alan Carter, Director of Portfolio Management at the Land Trust, the national land management charity that owns the Countess of Chester Country Park. Mr Carter detailed the history of the park, much of which has been transformed from a former landfill site, and highlighted some of the key habitats and enhancement work that has taken place. Next door to the Countess of Chester Health Park, the park is also a haven for staff, patients and visitors.
The MP and Sheriff also spent time with Morag and Andy Scargill of the Friends of Countess of Chester Park, who explained how they work with The Conservation Volunteers park rangers to get the community involved with looking after the park and making the most of the outdoor space on their doorsteps.
Mr Carter said: “It’s really encouraging to know that our local elected representatives understand the importance of public parks. By visiting the Countess of Chester Country Park they have been able to hear directly from people about what the park means to them and find out about the wide range of activities that take place here. Everyone involved in the park is so proud of it, and we were delighted to be able to demonstrate that passion to the city MP and Sheriff during their visit.”
Mr Dowsett explained: “Since we launched Chester parkrun in July 2016 we have had over 8,000 completed runs of the 5km route, had representatives from over 100 running clubs and had runners of all ages and abilities. Chester parkrun is a fantastic community initiative, run by dedicated volunteers, that makes excellent use of the wonderful resource of the Countess of Chester Country Park.”
Chris Matheson MP said: “It was great to spend some time in the Countess of Chester Country Park, and see the transformation this area has undergone. The parkrun initiative is fantastic, and the high numbers involved every week are a testament to how great a resource the park is. I look forward to further enhancements of the natural environment in future, and the associated benefits for the community.”
Cllr Hogg commented: “It has been a great pleasure to meet the organisers of the Chester parkrun who do so much to encourage residents to take regular exercise by participating in the free 5km time trials in the Countess of Chester Country Park. Chester is privileged to have such a facility in the middle of a bustling city available to all its residents. The Friends of the park and The Conservation Volunteers deserve much credit and encouragement in the work they do to develop and nurture such an asset for our city.”
After all the parkrunners crossed the line and the equipment was packed away, the group headed over to the nearby Little Owl pub for refreshments.
Chester parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am, find out more at: www.parkrun.org.uk/chester/.
Other regular activities at the park include health walks, buggy walks and volunteering sessions. For full details, visit: www.thelandtrust.org.uk/space/countess-of-chester-country-park/ or the Countess of Chester Country Park Facebook page: www.facebook.com/countessofchestercountrypark/
For some children it's probably their first encounter with wildlife, so for them it's a really good educational place.
Emily, Site Ranger, Bentley Community Woodland
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