Wilton Lodge Park group to make cash bid within weeks

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The group behind the development of Wilton Lodge Park are just weeks away from lodging their bid for a £3million upgrade of Hawick’s largest greenspace.

A modern play park for children, a new bridge from Volunteer Park, a walled garden, and the reintroduction of a bandstand are at the centre of ambitious proposals to rejuvenate the 107-acre park, and Friends of Wilton Lodge Park (FWLP) should find out by the end of 2012 whether or not their application for the majority of required funding, due to be submitted in August, has been accepted by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“We have all systems go to make our bid in August,” said Keith Johnson, secretary of FWLP.

“The park is dear to a lot of people’s hearts. It’s a fabulous place, but needs work done on it. The majority of users are dog walkers, but we would like the park to appeal to different age groups and include facilities for children and young people.

Mr Johnson has served FWLP since its foundation in late-2006 and says there has existed “a will to do something for a long time”.

The co-operation of the Heritage Lottery Fund is key to gaining funds for a bandstand and walled garden. To win their support, Mr Johnson and the ‘Friends’ group must prove that any work must be compliant with “not just written or physical heritage, but the culture of the town and the people”.

A public consultation found that local people most wanted to see improvements to the toilets and cafe, currently housed in an old bowling pavilion.

Mr Johnson envisages the return of a bandstand, with a similar structure, built in 1899, having formed the focal point of the park until its removal in the 1960s. A play park costing between £150,000 and £200,000 would, he says, address the lack of a modern play area in the town, while a new bridge at £130,000 would improve access into the heart of the overall park.

Donations and offers of assistance with the project should be directed to the council’s Philippa Gilhooly on 01835 825 089 or pgilhooly@scotborders.gov.uk

n The park will this weekend play host to an Easter Egg Hunt, in conjunction with Sainsbury’s, for children up to 12 years old.

On Sunday from 1-2pm, kids up to five years will search for plastic eggs in the crazy golf area and hope to exchange one for a chocolate alternative at the nearby cafe.

Children aged 6-12 will conduct their hunt around the museum with a similar aim. Hawick Amateur Swimming Club will stage a duck race fund-raiser at Dean Burn.