Visitors to a revitalised Chester-le-Street community park now have somewhere to sit and enjoy the sunshine thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

Thornton Pocket Park in Pelton was threatened with closure two years ago after becoming run down and poorly used, but thanks to a campaign by local residents and funding secured through Pelton Parish Council, the park was saved and has since been greatly improved.

As part of the next stage of its redevelopment, a £5,000 grant was obtained from property and energy firm The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund to help bring new seating into the park – and it has now been installed in time for the beginning of spring.

Two ‘Humpty Dumpty’ benches and a further vandal-proof bench have been put in place, along with a ‘snakes and ladders’ picnic table on which families can play the popular board game with their own counters.

During the design process, Pelton Parish Council consulted with local children and families about the types of seating they’d like to see in the park to ensure that it met their practical needs.

New play equipment was installed in the park in 2019 as part of its revitalisation and it has become an increasingly popular place for local families to visit and play, especially during the pandemic.

Cllr Danny Wood, chair of Pelton Parish Council, says: “We’d like to thank residents and the local community for their work in saving and supporting Thornton Pocket Park over the last couple of years.”

Joanne Dickinson, clerk at Pelton Parish Council, says: “There’s been a great local response to the work that’s been done to improve the park – there are always people there and it’s a really lively, safe and well-used part of our community.

“Our families have been asking when we might be getting some seating installed at the park, especially the many grandparents who come here and who might like to sit down sometimes while their grandchildren run about the place.

“Involving them in agreeing the type of seating that we were going to install means we know it’s going to meet their needs and it also increases their sense of ownership of what’s become a real community asset.

“We wouldn’t have been able to afford to install the seating as quickly as this without Banks’ generous support and it’s great that it’s in place for everyone to use as the better spring weather begins to come our way.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “There’s been a really impressive community effort to turn somewhere that was in a poor state of repair into a vibrant, well-used recreational facility.

“As a County Durham business, we’re very pleased to be able to help with the next stage of Thornton Pocket Park’s redevelopment and hope everyone enjoys sitting out in the springtime sunshine.”

The Banks Community Fund is administered independently by the County Durham Community Foundation.  Anyone interested in applying for funding should first contact the fund manager via or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.