Paul Evans, new park ranger and gardener at Whaley Bridge Memorial Park, has taken up his job as the £478,000 dream plan for the park near the town centre starts to turn into reality. Over the next five years the money, granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will transform the picturesque, riverside park, which was created in 1920 as a memorial to 109 local men killed in World War I.
Paul has previously worked for High Peak Borough Council at the New Mills leisure centre and as part of the sports development team. He will be working to make the park even more popular with people of all ages.
On Wednesday 17 August he meets members of the Kaleidoscope group at he Uniting Church, as part of his tell-the-people agenda. If the weather is good, they will ‘walk the park’ as he shows how plans will improve facilities for all, especially youngsters and young families.
In July, Paul mounted a vintage climbing frame for a photocall. Young children hurried to join him. By Easter 2012, they could be climbing or swinging on even more exciting equipment.
Paul has talked about some of the early developments:
New flower beds at different points of the park, with local schools and the Alderbrook Day Centre, Chinley, putting their ideas into growth
Preserving a banking below the War Memorial, where six different grasses and many wild flowers grow
Draining the flat area near the Wheatsheaf Road entrance, so that it can become a site for events using marquees (Holy Trinity Church has already used it for two summer picnics for its congregation)
Starting the installation of new play equipment as early as January, with completion targeted for Easter
Building a new bridge to replace the exisiting narrow structure at the point where the Toddbrook joins the River Goyt
Creating a mini ‘beach’ by reducing the level of a banking near the bridge, allowing children to paddle safely
Eradicating unwanted plants such as Himalayan balsam, whose roots kill the earth around the plant, Balsam was introduced by Victorians to Kew Gardens, from which it ‘escaped.’
Working with others including the skate park – and possibly introducing music performances in the natural amphitheatre near the Reservoir Road entrance.
PAUL EVANS is 56, but says he is ‘young at heart’. He has two grown up children. His family moved to New Mills to escape the smogs of Manchester 50 years ago. Paul went to local schools. He is a big supporter of SureStart, with branches in New Mills. Chapel and Buxton, and would like to involve some of their members in the Memorial Park project. There are plans for a public open day in the park in September, for people to learn more about the plans. Watch this website for the developing story of the Memorial Park dream.