Today, a record number of parks and green spaces collect a Green Flag Award.

Two parks and a cemetery in Darlington have been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as among the very best in the world.

South Park, Westpark and the town’s West Cemetery are among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks and green spaces, and 131 in thirteen other countries around the world, that will today receive a prestigious Green Flag Award – the mark of a quality park or green space.

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

South Park is a Victorian Park with a lake, aviaries, bowling green, café, play areas, skate park and bandstand.  It is host to a range of events and activities such as charity fun runs, proms in the park, fitness clubs and sewing club in the education centre.  South Park was the first park in Darlington and this year marks its 13th year as a Green Flag Award winner.

Officially opened in 2005, Westpark was the first new park in Darlington in 100 years and this is its fifth Green Flag Award. It is a modern park with a fusion of art and wild open space.  There are stone sculptures and poetry that are integrated with the natural beauty of the wildflower meadows, woods and wetlands.

West Cemetery was established in 1858 and is the final resting place of many of the town’s most prominent residents. It received its first Green Flag Award in 2013.

Councillor Paul Howell, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet member for leisure and the local environment, said: “We are absolutely delighted to once again receive Green Flag Awards for South Park, Westpark and West Cemetery and look forward to more of our green spaces joining this list.

“We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and this award celebrates the dedication that goes into maintaining them to such a high standard. A huge thanks to our staff and local volunteers who work so hard to do this.”

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “It’s fantastic that we have more Green Flag Awards in the UK than ever before, joined this year by 131 International winners.

“Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We congratulate each and every winner on their fantastic achievement.”