A VALLEYS park has been given a Green Flag award 20 years after it received its first one - and the committee that runs it have praised the hard work of children for helping secure it.

Cefn Fforest Eco Park is a 12-acre strip of green belt along the western border of Cefn Fforest and Pengam.

South Wales Argus:

Cefn Fforest Eco Park committee members, volunteers and members of Groundwork Wales. Picture taken before pandemic - www.christinsleyphotography.co.uk

Secretary of the Friends of Cefn Fforest Eco Park, Chris Edwards, said: “We are delighted with the award, especially as we have continued to maintain the park despite most of the committee shielding for most of the year due to the pandemic.

“A lot of the praise has to go to the children. They’ve taken ownership of the park and it’s great.”

Recently, the children - mainly aged 15 and 16, though there a range of younger children are involved - have planted more than 1,000 crocus plants, and have worked hard to ensure the park is maintained.

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Some of the children and adults involved in maintaining the park. Picture taken before coronavirus pandemic

“They are asking us if they can do something, rather than waiting to be asked. They are really taking a proactive role.

“There is so much bad press about children and teenagers. We want to show how good this group are.”

Mrs Edwards believes that the award is testament to the committee and particularly the children as to how well the park has been maintained during the coronavirus pandemic - mainly by the children and locals.

“Most of the committee are over 70 and have been shielding for around nine months. We haven’t been able to meet at all to discuss plans for the park but have continued to do our best to maintain it - thanks to the children and neighbours.”

South Wales Argus:

Cefn Fforest Eco Park has been given a Green Flag Award


Last February, Mrs Edwards spoke to the South Wales Argus about the park, the issues it faced, and the work being done. She explained how the spot, which is popular with dog walkers, was also popular for other reasons - as a place for drug taking and drinking - and that action was being taken as the park was being transformed with the help of Groundwork Wales.

It has now become popular with locals for all the right reasons.

“A lot of people are discovering the park for the first time during the lockdown periods and have said how much they are enjoying the walks," said Mrs Edwards.

“There is also a group of young children who use some of the benches as their reading spot with their childminder.”

A butterfly garden is in the process of being put in, with the children again taking a primary role in this when restrictions are eased.

The park also has its own ‘Banksy’-style pieces - donated benches made from recycled wood.

“The benches pop up overnight, so we call the mystery donor the Eco Park Banksy,” said Mrs Edwards.

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One of the benches

It has been a long and steady transformation of the park, with the Friends of Cefn Fforest Eco Park being set up 20 years ago to preserve the land as an open space. They were granted a lease for 25 years from Caerphilly County Borough Council, provided the site was maintained.