Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best community health initiative

Winner - Countess of Chester Country Park, The Land Trust

Owned by national land management charity the Land Trust and maintained by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), the Countess of Chester Country Park covers 19ha of green open space, wetlands and forest. Located next to the Countess of Chester Health Park, close to residential areas and a two-mile walk from the city centre, the country park is ideally placed to bring the health benefits of the outdoors to a wide range of people.

In February 2016, Alistair Cook was appointed "Health for Life" project officer to promote healthier and more active lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities, a position supported by several funding partners.

Initiatives and activities include:

-A weekly programme of TCV-led green gym, buggy walks, Nordic walking, health walks and "walk to run" sessions.
-Chester parkrun, attracting an average of 230 participants every Saturday morning.
-A programme of activities for local health staff, tailored to their needs and timetables.
-Forest school sessions giving schoolchildren the opportunity to enjoy hands-on learning.
-Tree planting and other park maintenance, giving people the chance to help care for their park and get some alternative exercise.
-A "Green Angels" training scheme helping local people to gain skills and benefit from social cohesion and outdoor activity.

Countless people walk, cycle and run around the park each week and it is actively used as part of treatment and recovery plans by health care staff from across the local hospital’s departments.

New mums, people undergoing physiotherapy and patients at the young person’s mental health unit are encouraged to use the park to aid their well-being. The health partnership model continues to grow and the possibility of replicating it across other sites is being examined.

-Nearly half of the visitors to Countess of Chester Country Park use the green spaces to walk their dogs.
-More than 50% use the green spaces for exercise, leisure and recreation.
-Nine out of 10 people feel that the green spaces play a positive part in their happiness and well-being.
-Some 25% use the green spaces to relieve stress.

Highly commended

Horatio’s Garden Scotland

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