Park bid wins lottery windfall

WILTON Lodge Park has received an early Christmas present to the tune of £2.6million.

The project to create an ‘Outdoor Heart of Hawick’ was boosted by the Heritage Lottery grant, which was announced today (Monday).

The money will be used to restore the bandstand to its former glory, conserve existing war memorials and the fountain, provide a new play park, cafe and footbridge.

Proposals also include using some of the walled garden for a community food growing project which will allow community groups and volunteers to carry out vocational and therapeutic works. Paths and tree management will reinstate lost views and interpretation, seating and signage will be improved.

The project is expected to start in the summer of 2013 and be complete by spring 2018.

Keith Johnston from the Friends of Wilton Lodge Park group, said: “We are delighted that we have been an integral part of this successful project and look forward to work starting in 2013 to improve the park.”

At present the park hosts more than 239,000 people annually and it is anticipated that the improvements will not only see the number of visitors increase, but also the time spent in the park, and the town as a whole.

Executive member for environmental services and Hawick and Hermitage councillor David Paterson said: “Wilton Lodge Park has played a significant role in the community and the history of Hawick over the years. It is a beautiful park just now but with investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Borders Council we have the opportunity to restore some of the historic elements to secure their future, as well as introduce new attractions.

“This is a fantastic project for Hawick.”

The announcement was made alongside funding for similar projects, which included a grant of £585,000 to help restore Kelvingrove bandstand, and funding of £527,100 for the Grand Fountain, in Paisley’s Fountain Gardens Park.

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, commented: “We are delighted to be able to bring some festive cheer to Wilton Lodge Park. The park is a wonderful legacy from our ancestors which is enjoyed by all people of all ages. A beautiful space in which to relax away from the pressures of daily life, this project will encourage even more people through its gates and forge new links with the community.

“HLF is committed to protecting these precious places, through our Parks for People programme, not just because they are an important part of our heritage, but because they make a huge difference to the quality of life for millions of Scots.”