A PARK and a churchyard in Kirklees are among the best green spaces in England.
Oakwell Hall Country Park at Birstall has won a Green Flag award and the grounds of Kirkburton Parish Church have won a Green Pennant.
They are among a record 551 winners of the awards, which are given to the best parks and green spaces in England and Wales.
They were announced by Baroness Andrews, a junior minister at the Communities and Local Government Department, this week.
The awards are the national standard for parks and green spaces.
The scheme has been running for 11 years and this year has seen a 30% rise in the number of winners.
These spaces are judged to be welcoming, safe and well-maintained and involve the local community.
Oakwell Hall Country Park on Nutter Lane is managed by Kirklees Council’s Culture and Leisure Services.
It is set within over 100 acres of well-managed countryside.
Visitors can enjoy a nature trail through woods, wildflower meadows and river valleys.
They can also explore the newly restored Walled Garden, the Arboretum, the Orchard and Wildlife Garden.
The events programme attracts more than 20,000 visitors a year.
Activities range from willow weaving workshops to Civil War re-enactments, guided walks and environmentally themed events.
Clr Liz Smaje, Kirklees Cabinet member for leisure and neighbourhood services, said:. “Being awarded a Green Flag for the third year running is a tremendous achievement for Oakwell.
“It reflects the efforts to keep improving the country park, its facilities and its events programme.
“Congratulations to our staff there for their hard work and commitment to keep Oakwell Hall Country Park one of the best green spaces in the country.”
The Kirkburton churchyard is in the middle of the village.
Over the past seven years a team of dedicated volunteers has transformed it from an overgrown wilderness.
It is now a haven for wildlife, grasses and wild flowers.
Benches have been provided and a heritage walk around some of the more interesting graves have been produced.
This year’s winners will celebrate their achievements at a ceremony at the Royal Armouries in Leeds this month.
Baroness Andrews said: “Parks are an oasis of calm and natural beauty. They have a vital role to play in our lives as places where people come together to relax, exercise and play.”