West Midlands, War Memorial Park, Coventry City Council

This is a special year for War Memorial Park. The 50ha space in Coventry was opened in 1921 as the city's memorial and this year is the first to be protected by the Fields in Trust "Centenary Fields" programme, honouring the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives in World War One.

Recent improvements as part of a £2.8m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant are due to be officially opened later this year - a fitting tribute for the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Some of those improvements include works to the park buildings and the creation of a visitors' centre, a refurbished memorial and landscape enhancements to ornamental areas.

Last year English Heritage confirmed the parkland, which attracts around 400,000 visitors a year, would be added to its Register of Parks and Gardens. The main gates and Portland stone-clad memorial - the second tallest in the country - were given listed status. The Green Flag Award is therefore only the latest accolade for the park and a fitting tribute to the staff who tend the space.

Head of parks and open spaces Ces Edwards says: "As part of the overall management of the park we took back the gardens from the service providers and now have a dedicated grounds maintenance staff for the space. This is key to setting and improving standards.

"Having the same people working on the park with a supervisor looking after day-to-day management means the team takes more pride in the work because each member of the grounds staff know they will be back the following week to see the space develop.

"Part of the HLF funding was used to improve staff training and to support a friends group. We have five flags across the city to identify excellence in management and maintenance and volunteers play an important role."

Today, three main areas define War Memorial Park - a formal space centred around the memorial, an extensive area of open space for sports and a country park area for large-scale events and community activities. Some 258 memorial trees were planted to commemorate the dead of the Great War and a further 600 for those who fell in World War Two and subsequent conflicts.


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