Friends of John Leigh Park
The Friends of John Leigh Park volunteers work to maintain and improve the park for Altrincham residents and visitors
John Leigh Park was gifted to the people of Altrincham by Sir John Leigh 101 years ago and nestles at the heart of Altrincham’s residential area. It has facilities for football, tennis, basketball and bowling, there are 2 children’s play areas a trim trail and an aviary. It’s well used by dog walkers, families and sports and keep fit enthusiasts and much loved by residents.
Like many other Councils as a result of spending cuts in 2014 Trafford Council reduced their commitment to public parks in the borough to simple grounds maintenance – mowing, pruning hedges, tree management and maintenance of equipment.
The Friends of John Leigh park group came together and is a group of volunteers, all residents living close to the park. Tasks carried out by the group include looking after the ornamental flower beds, planting, weeding and day to day maintenance to enable swift reporting of issues to the Council contractors for attention. This enables the group to keep the park look pretty, clean, tidy and safe for the enjoyment of the town’s residents and visitors.
The volunteers take part in the annual RHS North West in Bloom Assessments and have been awarded a Thriving Community Award in their first year and Outstanding Community Award in the last 2 years. We find out later this year how we got on following judging last week.
The Friends Group fought to keep their aviary while all the others in Trafford were closed and undertook to care for the birds themselves. Nestling in the toddler play area it’s a popular attraction for families.
The Group also organise activities to encourage use of the park. The Eden Project, National BIG Lunch attracts hundreds of people and the day now includes activities for children, music from a local brass band, and singing by a local choir. This year the group unveiled their interpretation boards which give visitors some information about the history of the park.
There’s the annual Christmas carol service, ad hoc weekend music events and dog shows and weekly health walks around the park and surrounding residential area. School children us the park for cross country runs and personal trainers run classes and activities including buggy fitness for new mums.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
As a result of Council budget cuts there’s no funding available from the Council to buy plants. The group relies on membership subscriptions and donations, the Friends group also raise money at our local church car boot sales and selling calendars and cards but there’s always more to do than we can raise funds for locally.
Friends of John Leigh Park are therefore seeking funding to brighten up the raised bed in the toddler play area with planting. As you can see from the attached picture at the moment it’s not attractive and is desperately in need of re-planting . The volunteers would strip out and re plant the bed so any grant money would be used to purchase plants
Once re-planted volunteers of the Friends group would maintain the new planting scheme to make it a pleasant area for visitors to enjoy for years to come.
It’s hard to quantify how many people use are park, though there are always people in the park or walking through it, as it connects a large residential area .
The toddler play area is one of the most popular areas of the park as it’s a gated area, so a secure and safe place for our youngest park visitors to play on the equipment.
The addition of a picnic bench has meant that it’s now become a favourite area for families wanting to eat al-fresco, or for families to sit while the children play.
Also in this gated area is the aviary, the only remaining one in Trafford and the John Leigh Park fight to keep it was one keenly supported by Altrincham residents.
As a result of the campaign to keep the aviary John Leigh Park took birds from the other parks in Trafford . The birds are now looked after by volunteers of Friends of John Leigh Park. Occasionally we adopt birds and sometimes re-home some with local families and care homes.
The Friends group recently organised a spring clean of the equipment in the toddler play area and some of our youngest visitors came along to help. Encouraging pride in our local park reduces the likelihood of vandalism and makes it a pleasant place for everyone to enjoy. Which is why we see this bed as being our next project to make the area bright and cheerful to bring the area up to a similar standard as other areas of the park.
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