A RETIREMENT park in Whitegate has won a top environmental accolade from a world-famous botanist.

Riverside Park received gold level of the annual David Bellamy Conservation Award after entering the contest for the first time.

The park also received three extra commendations for protecting honey bees, creating new hedgerow habitats, and planting wild flowers.

Owned by Sam Leigh-Jones and her husband Darren, Riverside was selected for the award following an in-depth audit by David Bellamy's wildlife assessors.

They stated that the three-acre park was ‘fully deserving’ of the honour thanks to a long list of green initiatives implemented with the support of park residents.

Since taking over the park almost five years ago, Sam and Darren have planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs which have created additional habitats and food resources for wildlife.

Assessors made special mention of the large areas of wild-flower plantings, which provide vital foraging for endangered honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Praise was also given to the installation of bird and owl boxes throughout the grounds and the series of floating bird rafts in the river to provide safe nesting platforms.

Winsford Guardian:

Riverside Park

According to Sam, credit for the gold David Bellamy Conservation Award deserves to be shared with everyone who lives on the park.

“Many of our residents chose Riverside Park as their home because of its unspoiled tranquil surroundings, and everyone here shares a love of the natural world,” she said.

“There is also a great enthusiasm among residents to play their part in helping to safeguard wildlife, so we're never short of ideas or offers of help and support for our work.

"We consider ourselves very privileged to live and work in such a beautiful corner of Cheshire, and it's great to know we are being supported by someone like David Bellamy."

As well as its conservation work, the park was commended for its charity work for a number of good causes and praised for being a ‘good neighbour’ to the local community.

Riverside provides 27 park homes, all of which have picture-postcard views of the River Weaver and the surrounding Cheshire countryside.