Park is one of the best in the country

Members of the committee for Long Buckby Green Spaces.
Members of the committee for Long Buckby Green Spaces.
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Cotton End Park in Long Buckby is one of five projects to have been recognised in a government report.

A report called The Big Tree Plant Grant Scheme written by the Forestry Commission and the Department For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs praised the Long Buckby Green Spaces group for the work it carried out.

Daniel Tabor, the community orchard coordinator said: “I think to have received this recognition and to be one of five projects recognised across the country is absolutely fantastic and we were all pleased by the news.”

It was the brainchild of the group’s co-founder Nick Roberts who was looking to benefit the local community.

He said: “We have seen a lot of residential development in the village and also land is being intensively farmed.

“We felt with the growing size of the village there would be use for a green space like this so that we could show people the joy of the countryside.

Work started on setting up Cotton End Park in 2010 and it was officially opened three years later.

The park, which is on the Northampton Road out of Long Buckby towards the A428. consists of nine acres and belongs to the Long Buckby United Charities.

The land was previously allocated for the benefit of the poor in the village as long ago as 1766.

During most of the 20th century income from the piece of agricultural land was used to give the elderly of the parish a small gift at Christmas. In 2009 the charity leased the land to Long Buckby Parish Council and it became a rural park open to the public.

The group was set up to develop and manage the park and they began by consulting villagers on what they would like to see in the park.

Nick said: “I feel like we will grow with the size of the village. There are many more people coming into the village when the new houses are built and they are going to want somewhere to walk the dog, see the countryside and enjoy village life.

“Cotton End Park enables them to do that.”

The efforts of the volunteers has been recognised by local officials including the chief executive of Daventry District Council (DDC) Ian Vincent and local district councillors Diana Osborne and Chris Millar.

Daniel added: “I think to have the recognition from local figureheads as well as the Government is a real recognition for all of the hard work which has gone in from the volunteers and the feedback we have had from the public for what we have been doing is brilliant.”

The group, formed of volunteers, has introduced a number of elements including a wildlife wetland area which includes three ponds, an orchard of native and local fruit varieties and a spinney of native trees and bushes.

There is also a small flock of sheep plus accommodation, an assault course suitable for younger teenagers and two picnic areas with space for barbecues.

An information centre built of thatch, stone and cob walls has also been introduced, as has a wide mown area used for various events and activities.

Nick said: “Even though we are reasonably far out of the village, we have a lot of tremendous community support and spirit. We will have various events held during the spring and summer.

Daniel added: “We also have trees planted which have been sponsored. Sometimes it will be by people who have lost loved ones and will come one day a year to have a drink by the tree they have sponsored. There have also been dog shows and events by the Scouts held at the park.”

Nick said: “The other thing about being a little outside the village is that people will have to make a specific journey to get here. Families will make a real day of coming here and seeing what we have to offer.”

The group is now looking to improve people’s awareness of farming.

Nick said: “We have done little bits around the education but we are looking to do more by working with the schools and the youth groups in the village.

“All of this could not be done without the help and sponsorship from all of the people involved in Cotton End Park. It is their hard work and enthusiasm which makes Cotton End Park what it is and helps the local community to enjoy it.”

For further information about the group search for Long Buckby Green Spaces Cotton End Park on Facebook.