PUBLISHED: 05:32 22 August 2019 | UPDATED: 05:32 22 August 2019
Runners take part in the 24 hour Park Run in the Walks in King’s Lynn, to celebrate the groups 4th anniversary. Picture: Matthew Usher.
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2015
Two Norfolk parks have been hailed as “much loved” in a national awards scheme.
The Walks in King’s Lynn and Eaton Park in Norwich received “Much Loved” status as part of Fields in Trust’s UK’s Best Park 2019, which aims to recognise the UK’s most loved green spaces.
The overall winner was Essex’s Lake Meadows in Billericay.
The accolade is awarded to the top 20pc of all parks and green spaces nominated, recognising the support of those that use it.
Fields in Trust chief executive Helen Griffiths said: “Congratulations to Lake Meadows and all the ‘Much Loved’ parks and green spaces in the region. We know that parks provide benefits to the physical health, mental wellbeing and community connections for people that use them. It is encouraging to see so many people celebrate how much they love their local parks.
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“Fields in Trust is committed to protecting these vital parts of the UK’s community infrastructure for future generations to enjoy. We know that green spaces are good, do good and need to be protected for good.”
As many as 37 of the 364 parks nominated by local community groups were from the East of England, while over 36,000 people voted for their favourite parks across the country.
Fields in Trust recently found that the East of England has more than 314,000 people whose nearest green space is more than ten minutes-walk from home, while over 2.5 million people across Great Britain do not have local access to a park or green space.
The charity says public sector cuts have led to pressure on parks and green spaces, and added that there is the risk that a lack of legal protection could lead to more being sold off or developed.
Fields in Trust believes outdoor green spaces contribute £34 billion each year in health and wellbeing benefits to their regular users and save the NHS £111m each year in avoided GP appointments.
The charity has been in operation since 1925, and aims to provide legal protection to parks in the UK.