Volunteer who made 'outstanding contribution' to park scoops Green Flag Award

A volunteer who played an instrumental role in saving and redeveloping volunteer-run New Ferry Butterfly Park in the Wirral has been named Green Flag Award Volunteer of the Year.

Dr Hilary Ash (centre) with councillor Warren Ward and other volunteers
Dr Hilary Ash (centre) with councillor Warren Ward and other volunteers

Dr Hilary Ash helped to save the near five hectare park from possible development after landowner Brock asked leaseholder Cheshire Wildlife Trust to vacate January 2010. The site was a former goods yard which had been disused since the 1960s and which had attracted fly tipping and other problems before the local community transformed it into an urban wildlife oasis which had 25 species of butterfly recorded on site. 

Following a determined campaign and a petition signed by 3,600 residents and others, Wirral Council agreed to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order in 2010 and subsequently bought the land.

Ash has introduced training days for park wardens to help improve the warden and visitor experience, holds training courses and welcomes schools and other groups on visits. Honorary secretary of the park Paul Loughnane said Ash "had been a bedrock of the park from the very beginning and continues to be an inspiration to all our volunteers".

Green Flag Award manager Paul Todd said: "Congratulations to Hilary for winning the Green Flag Award Volunteer of the Year. It is clearly an important park to Hilary, but Hilary is also important to the park. It just shows us how vital the role of volunteer is to our parks and green space up and down the country."

Volunteer and training manager at Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Beth Alvey said Ash had made "an outstanding contribution" to the park.

"Her knowledge of local wildlife is incredible and her enthusiasm and dedication is exemplary. We're really pleased she has been acknowledged in this way – it's a well-deserved award."

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