Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park has become the first in the Borders to be awarded a coveted Green Flag, following its £3.64 million revamp.
The 43-hectare park is only the second in the south of Scotland to pick up the award, which is the benchmark standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the UK and around the world.
Judges acknowledged the work carried out to improve the park as part of a regeneration scheme, which is due to be completed this summer.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Borders Council, the face-lift has delivered a number of new facilities including a play-park, Zandra Elliot Bandstand, café and the McLaren Bridge.
There have also been improvements to the walled garden, waterfall walk and Hawick Museum, alongside the busy summer events programme which saw Hawick favourites Scocha play to more than 600 people earlier this month.
There has also been a number of other works carried out to the various shelters and memorials within the park, including the Cenotaph, Boer War Memorial, MacNee Fountain, Jimmie Guthrie Memorial, Laurie Shelter and Henderson Shelter.
Thanks to £100,000 from SUSTRANS, improvements were made to the surface of footways, lighting and signage, along with a further £20,000 from Smarter Choices, Smarter Placed fund to promote cycling.
Tree planting and improvements to the park’s main entrance, the Common Riding ceremonial area and Gilbert Davidson Fountain are also part of the regeneration project. And a total of 27 interpretation boards have been installed this summer to help visitors navigate around the park’s various features.
The park was developed in the late 19th century from a former private estate.
Councillor Sandy Aitchison (Ind), Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and locality services, said: “This award is a huge honour for Hawick and the Scottish Borders, being the very first park or green space in our region to receive Green Flag status.
“The award has recognised the stunning landscape of the park and the wide variety of new facilities provided through the regeneration project, which has been funded by the council and its various partners.”
Pete Leonard, operations director at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “It is great to see a newly regenerated site, which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Funding, added to the list of awarded parks.
“We are very proud of all Scotland’s Green Flag Award parks and this year we have had a number of new parks receive their Green Flag.
“This is clearly recognition for everyone’s efforts in helping to make their local open space a greener, cleaner and healthier place to live, work and play.”