Volunteers bring South Shields park back to life

The Friends of West Park held a picnic to celebrate Love Your Park Week.
The Friends of West Park held a picnic to celebrate Love Your Park Week.

A South Tyneside park has been receiving some tender loving care in recent years.

After a long period of relative neglect the West Park in South Shields is now once more becoming a community asset.

We’re hoping to make this an annual event

Coun Gladys Hobson

That is in no small part to the establishment of the Friends of West Park, which was established a few years back.

It’s a small group of volunteers – new members are always welcome – who ensure that the area is kept in good order.

Recently, as part Love Your Park Week, the “Friends” held a Big Picnic in the park, attended by the borough mayor, Coun Richie Porthouse.

Residents were encouraged to bring their picnics and kids their teddies.

Despite not the best of weather, the event was a big success and organisers are now planning to make it an annual event.

Coun Gladys Hobson, who represents Labour in the West Park ward, said: “The weather was not brilliant but we made the most of it.

“We are hoping to make this an annual event, to encourage people to use their local park.”

The Friends group was established about three years ago amid a general view that West Park was the ‘poor relation to South’ Shields’ South Marine Park, which a few years earlier had undergone a £3m Lottery funded revamp.

Speaking at the time, Coun Hobson said: “There is a feeling that the park has been neglected for some time and this is a chance to give it some tender loving care.”

Earlier this year, eight ‘friends of’ groups came together to form the South Tyneside Green Space Forum for mutual help and encouragement in keeping the borough’s green spaces well-tended.

And they all supported Love You Park Week, through initiatives which included litter picks and a children’s parks play scheme.

Forum members in South Shields help look after Readhead Park, West Park, Mowbray Park, and the North and South Marine Parks.

Rebecca Maw, community engagement manager with communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle, which helped coordinate the founding of the forum, said: “Separately, these groups have done great work looking after our parks and green spaces. Each has something a little different to offer from the others but there was a realisation that they could do even better if they supported one another.”