Essex Community Foundation

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Making a mark on his community

13th July 2018

Community champion Bill Davidson's dream of transforming Parkeston began when he took on responsibility for opening and closing the area's park gates.

While he was carrying out the task Bill, 73, a parish councillor and chairman of Parkeston Residents and Welfare Park Association, started to think about how the park could be improved.
“It was in quite a bad state and first of all I set about picking up any litter,” he said.

“Then I took it a bit further and thought about other ways of making the park better. Parkeston was a small, forgotten village and there was a lot to do to make people feel more motivated and bring back community spirit.”

With the help of dedicated volunteers, local fundraising and grants from the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF) Bill's dream has become a reality. The local community now has a park to be proud of and the jewel in the crown is a newly-opened Parkeston hub.

The hub, which will be used for a wide range of community activities, has been developed in Parkeston's former bowls club building in Hamilton Street.

Bill said: “The refurbishment is going really well, a lot of work has been carried out and we have lots of new equipment. The new fences are up, accessibility ramps are down, we have a store room, changing rooms and facilities for groups such as a dining club for elderly people.
“It really has been a fantastic community effort and I estimate we have had the help of around 500 volunteers, including people on the community payback scheme.”

Bill, who came to live in Parkeston seven years ago, has been a driving force behind the project and he is delighted that his original dream has come to fruition.

A football pitch has been created next-door on land donated by Tendring District Council and the weekly club that Bill instigated to give young people something positive and fun to do, is a great success.

“I like to be busy and didn't want to put my feet up during retirement. I wanted to be involved in the community and to keep active,” he said.

Residents in Parkeston and the surrounding area are now reaping the benefit and community spirit is thriving.

The hub is a focal point for the village and the park is a popular place where youngsters can have fun and people of all ages can use outdoor gym equipment. There are plans for an adult football team and paddle tennis next.

“It is great to see people becoming more active and to see village life getting back to what it should be,” said Bill. “People have come together and really have made a brilliant effort.

“We have had a lot of support, including the grants from Essex Community Foundation who have been such a help to us.”

With Parkeston going from strength to strength, Bill has been hailed as a community champion.

ECF manages 150 funds on behalf of individuals, families and businesses, helping to match their charitable wishes with the needs of the Essex voluntary sector. Among the Funds to support Parkeston Residents Association are Colne Community Builders and Milsom Charitable Fund.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF said: “Bill's enthusiasm and dedication have been instrumental in making Parkeston a better place we are delighted to support and encourage such a worthwhile community project through our grant-making.”

If there is a project you would like to undertake to improve your community, please call the grants team on 01245 356018. We would be happy to discuss this with you.