FOUR Darlington parks have been given a new lease of life after local employees volunteered thousands of hours to improve them.

At the Darlington Cares’ Great Park Auction, which took place in April in partnership with Darlington Borough Council, companies were invited to bid the number of volunteering hours their staff were prepared to commit to one of the parks - the highest bidder won.

The parks involved were Eastbourne Park, The Denes, Green Park and North Lodge Park.

In a celebration event at the Theatre Hullabaloo, it was revealed that employees from Cummins, EE, Darlington Building Society and Capita had delivered over 3,400 volunteering hours.

Seth Perason, Darlington Cares’ director, said: “We were thrilled to see that the original pledge of 2,135.5 employee volunteering hours the firms had committed to has been smashed!

“We can’t thank the companies and the employees enough for all of their hard work and dedication to the parks. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from the community and all four areas look astonishing.”

The businesses worked alongside their respective park’s Friends groups to develop a project that benefited the local community. Darlington Borough Council Parks, Allotments and Countryside Ranger, Pippa Smaling and Assistant Parks and Countryside Ranger, Warren Bearpark were also on hand to advise the volunteers.

The volunteers worked on their park throughout the summer months and an advisory inspection by Northumbria in Bloom Judge Allannah Robinson and chairman Andrew Jackson also took place.

Mr Jackson said the project had made a significant difference to the quality of the parks within the town. “I’ve noticed a big difference in the parks since our inspection and the local residents have seen what the volunteers have been doing and this has encouraged them to get involved as well, which is brilliant.”