A new bench has been unveiled in Valley Park Woodlands to recognise the hard work and dedication of the Friends of the Park volunteers.

The volunteers have carried out more than 200 tasks over the past two decades, including coppicing, non-native species removal, tree planting and helping to make more than 1,000 bird, bug and bat boxes. 

As a result of their hard work alongside the council’s countryside team, the woodlands have achieved the Green Flag award for the past 14 consecutive years.

READ MORE: The Westgate School celebrates topping GCSE results league table

Commissioned by Test Valley Borough Council as a thank you for the hard work of the volunteers, the new bench has been carved from a mighty oak that fell in the nearby woods. It has been created by local chainsaw artist Chris Bain who also carved the Green Man in Zion’s Hill woods. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Valley Park bench

The bench keeps the roots of the tree intact at one end and features the Friends of the Park emblem, featuring oak leaves and acorns, on its back and a very lifelike wooden badger on the seat.

Valley Park ward councillor Alan Dowden, who made the presentation, said: “The council is extremely grateful for the ongoing work of this dedicated and organised group of volunteers over the years and we’re delighted to be able to say thank you with this wonderful wooden bench.

“It’s in a lovely spot between the woods and with a view looking out over the meadow and balancing pond. We hope it will be enjoyed by the volunteers on their breaks and by other members of the public enjoying the fresh air in this wonderful local space.”

Cllr Alison Johnston, portfolio holder for climate emergency and countryside, added: “Creating a greener borough and making sure our green spaces are taken care of for everyone to enjoy are some of the council’s main priorities.

"We also want to celebrate the vital work done by volunteers in our communities and we’re delighted to be able to recognised this long-standing group who really do help their local green space to thrive.”