Countess of Chester Country Park welcomes Cheshire’s Wonderful Wildlife art trail

22nd February 2024

Countess of Chester Country Park, owned by national land management charity the Land Trust, has been chosen by Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership to host artist Nicky Thompson’s 12 poster art trail, ‘Cheshire’s Wonderful Wildlife’.

The country park is managed in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), with help from volunteer group the Friends of Countess of Chester Country Park who secured and organised the opportunity. The artwork will be laid out as a half-mile circular trail starting at the site’s popular Friendly Bench before entering the Countess of Chester Hospital grounds and returning via the far side of the woodland nature reserve.

The artworks were originally commissioned in 2020 by the Cheshire Community Rail Partnership to encourage people to ride the Mid Cheshire Rail Line and explore nature. The designs have been inspired by the style of British Transport posters and 1930s art, displaying bold colours and beautiful wildlife illustrations, including a barn owl, red deer, kingfisher, and the great crested newt.

The Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park were first inspired by the artworks when they saw it displayed at Tatton Park in Knutsford and later at Vickersway Park in Northwich. The Friends of Group, TCV, and the Land Trust are delighted to have been chosen to host the trail next, which will complement the country park’s important charitable delivery, enhancing the biodiversity and habitat for the resident wildlife on site and improving the health and well-being of visitors as they engage with the green space.

Residing next to the hospital, the park provides an important resource for service users, staff and visitors to access. The route chosen for the trail is one that nurses and support workers from Bowmere and Ancora House mental health facilities currently walk with the service users in their care, providing an opportunity to participate in gentle exercise around the trail and spend time outdoors encouraging discussions about the different habitats and wildlife that live at the country park.

Morag Scargill from the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park, said: “Having visited the posters at Tatton Park I was really inspired by them and hoped that one day they could come to the Countess of Chester Country Park where I felt they would be so relevant to the ethos of what we are trying to achieve.

“We’d like to offer a huge thanks to the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership who commissioned and own them, Northwich Town Council who had them before us, and of course Nicky Thompson who designed them for their help in making this happen.”

Mary Doyle Estate Manager for the Land Trust said: “We are delighted that the Countess of Chester Country Park has been chosen to host Nicky Thompson’s art trail, which complements the brilliant work that is taking place by TCV and the volunteers to develop and improve habitats for wildlife.

“The trail will encourage more visitors to explore the site further and to enjoy the health and well-being benefits of visiting the site.

“We would like to say a special thanks to Morag Scargill and the Friends of Group, who have worked hard to organise the artwork trail with Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership and Nicky Thompson.”

Sarah Muir, Community Rail Officer for the Mid Cheshire Line said: “The Community Rail Partnership is pleased to be able to be part of this initiative and support Chesire’s Wildlife and the Country Park.  We hope, too, that the display will encourage visitors to use the Mid Cheshire Line to visit places of wildlife interest like Delamere Forest, Northwich Woodlands, Tatton Park and Dunham Massey.”

The artwork will be installed by the Friends of Group and TCV in the coming weeks, with the official opening event on Sunday 6th April at 1:30pm. Chester’s Lord Mayor Cllr Shelia Little will unveil the park’s special board.

Find out more about Nicky Thompson here.

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