South Tyneside is celebrating Readhead Park in South Shields being awarded a prestigious Green Flag for the first time.
The park is now recognised as one of the best in the country, having been awarded green flag status by environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy.
The Green Flag is the benchmark for excellence in green spaces and recognises the outstanding work of staff and volunteers, who help to ensure they boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: "Readhead Park is a beautiful green space and we are delighted to see it receiving the prestigious Green Flag this year. These awards are much sought-after and not given out lightly.
"During the coronavirus pandemic, our parks have played a vital role as a place for local people to relax, exercise and meet family and friends safely. The news that Readhead Park - a real community asset - has achieved this status is testament to the hard work of all those who help to take care of this wonderful space and maintain it to such high standards.
"A special 'thank you' must go to the Friends of Readhead Park and their dedicated team of volunteers. They have been instrumental in helping to make the park a beautiful, clean, safe and welcoming place for all to enjoy. It is an incredible achievement. Congratulations to them all."
The Friends of the park group carry out regular activities and community events in the park, from litter picking and planting. They have helped to make significant improvements in the park, such as enhancing the bowling green area, refurbishing the rockery as well as installing a new notice board, a defibrillator and bird boxes.
Glenn Thompson, Chair of the Friends of Readhead Park, said: "Fantastic news for Westoe and the Readhead Park in receiving Green Flag status. A significant criteria for the award is community involvement and probably the most satisfying aspect has been seeing the community pull together with the support of South Tyneside Council to achieve this status. To the park users, volunteers, donors and the many that have made this a community success - thank you."
Green Flag Award Scheme Manager, Paul Todd said: "I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making Readhead Park worthy of a Green flag Award.
"To meet the requirements demanded by the scheme is testament to the hard work of staff and volunteers who do so much to ensure that Readhead Park has high standards of horticulture, safety and environmental management and is a place that supports people to live healthy lives."
Readhead Park is one of four parks across South Tyneside to achieve Green Flag status this year. South Marine Park and West Park in South Shields as well as West Park in Jarrow retained the award. The success of all four parks supports the Council's priority to invest in the natural and built environment.
The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the UK and around the world.