Garden group’s call

New group Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens has been set up to improve the park and holds a public meeting next month'Pictured: Colin White(blue coat) with L/R: Michael Tyson, Anne Rhodes, Jim Heap, Charlotte Ledger, Pat Stewart, Liz Claydon, Christine Cartwright.

New group Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens has been set up to improve the park and holds a public meeting next month'Pictured: Colin White(blue coat) with L/R: Michael Tyson, Anne Rhodes, Jim Heap, Charlotte Ledger, Pat Stewart, Liz Claydon, Christine Cartwright.

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A NEW group trying to improve facilities at Pontefract’s Valley Gardens is holding a public meeting in the town next week.

Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens is holding the meeting at Central Methodist Church on Thursday November 8 to encourage more people to get involved in restoring the park to its former glory.

Colin White, group chairman, said the meeting followed weeks of surveys of townsfolk to find out what they wanted from the gardens.

He said: “People remember it very fondly in the 70s and even early 80s, when there was a paddling pool and aviary, but in the last 20 years or so with cutbacks, less and less has been done.

“The aviary is shut, the pool was taken out, the flower beds have largely been filled in and grassed over, and while the beds it does have are well tended, there’s never any replenishment.”

Valley Gardens – an English Heritage Grade II listed historic garden – was originally part of St Richard’s Friary, and became a public park in 1950 and is maintained by Wakefield Council.

Colin added: “We’re in talks with the council and are working with it, but we can as a voluntary community group go to local businesses for sponsorship and bigger funding organisations like the lottery, that the council wouldn’t be able to access.

“However, to do that we have to mobilise local support, it has got to have the involvement of the community. We would like people to join the Friends, as the more members we have the more clout we have.”

Among improvements already suggested are repairing benches and paths, replenishing plants, creating a historic Friary garden and a children’s tree discovery trail.

The group also has more ambitious plans, including turning the old aviary into a tea room, creating a picnic area, a children’s play area, an outdoor stage or bandstand, public toilets and improving security.

It also hopes to arrange regular days in the gardens, where volunteers spend time carrying out maintenance work, to supplement work carried out by groundsmen.

The meeting on Thursday starts at 7.30pm and anyone who would like more information can contact friends.friarwoodvalleygardens@gmail.com or call group secretary Anne Rhodes on 01977 701457.