A County Durham wildlife park has been recognised for its commitment to the local environment.
The Chairman’s Medal is the highest honour that Durham County Council can award to individuals and organisations for outstanding voluntary contribution to the county.
The council’s Chairman, Cllr Watts Stelling has awarded the medal to The Wetlands, Langley Park, for its outstanding contribution to the local environment.
Project manager Ian Dowson started to transform an area of wasteland into The Wetlands in 2013, to create a space where everyone was welcome and where children could learn.
With the support of volunteers and their generous donation of equipment and materials, it soon became a tranquil haven for residents, community groups and its growing band of volunteers, featuring a pond, memory orchard, sensory and dementia gardens, and its Fairy Glen area.
Volunteers have since welcomed thousands of children, teaching them about their environment, as well as running The Duke of Edinburgh programme and local Rainbows, Brownies and Girl Guides groups. They also support dementia patients, with an accessible allotment area set to open soon to further support the elderly and children with disabilities.
Ian said: “I’m very proud to receive this award on behalf of The Wetlands but it really is an award for every volunteer and everyone who has contributed over the years. Our volunteers are worth their weight in gold. We are so very lucky to have so many wonderful people involved in the project.
“I created The Wetlands to ensure that all people, children and adults, could have a place to enjoy where they would be accepted for being themselves. I’m delighted that we have been able to achieve that and promote positive health and wellbeing. We hope to continue this for many years to come.”
Cllr Stelling, said:
“It has been a pleasure to visit The Wetlands and present this award. The park is such an inclusive environment and has become an incredibly valuable community asset over the years.
“Thanks to the support of so many wonderful volunteers, the park is thriving. It offers a sanctuary to its young and elderly visitors and is a fantastic environment in which our young people can learn. I have no doubt it will continue to make a positive difference to everyone who visits and I would like to congratulate everyone involved on its success.”