Southport’s popular Hesketh Park is set to benefit from a bequest of £850,000.
Louis and Anita Marks were long-term neighbours and supporters of Hesketh Park and bequeathed the sum to ensure its best possible future.
Among the works that could result from the bequest are a full refurbishment of the Conservatory, improvements to the sensory garden and the refurbishment of heritage features including the fountain, waterfall and floral clock.
Also, two full-time gardeners would be appointed to work at Hesketh Park for two years, supported by a newly created two-year apprenticeship. The planned planting of new trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and bedding would be part of their role along with the wider care of the Park.
Located less than a mile’s walk from the centre of Southport, Hesketh Park is a 12-hectare Victorian Park. The Green Sefton Team has worked closely with Marks family trustees and the Hesketh Park heritage Group to draw up the proposals.
In a consultation, carried out in 2021 before the Council’s Green Sefton service had received details of the bequest, almost 70% of the 488 respondents rated the park as average. More than half of respondents rated an improvement to the Park’s Conservatory for events as a very high priority and over 70% saw the return of site-based gardeners and rangers as a very high priority.
There was also significant support for improvements to the Park’s heritage features and for replanting in the sensory garden that would improve access for all.
The generous donation will be discussed at next week’s meeting of Sefton Council Cabinet.
Barry Samuels, one of the trustees to the Marks Family Trust, said:
“I still recall the magic of Hesketh Park when as a very young boy, my parents Dr Bernard and Jean Samuels and I used to visit my grandfather who lived in a house opposite the park in the early fifties.
“My Aunt and Uncle then moved into the house where his Uncle, Louis, was a fantastic and very skilled gardener.
“So, it is a fitting memorial to them all that the Family Trust can assist to reinstate the beauty of Hesketh Park for the public to enjoy, hopefully for many years to come.”
Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said:
“Thanks to the generosity of Louis and Anita Marks’ bequest, we are now going to be able to undertake wholesale improvements at Hesketh Park and do the kinds of things people have told us they want to see, like completing the refurbishment of the Conservatory and employing dedicated staff to work on-site.
“I am also glad that we will be able to re-plant the sensory garden to help ensure that everybody can enjoy Hesketh Park as well as restoring some of the features that reflect its Victorian heritage.
“And I am pleased to see that among the planned work is a proposal to create a memorial and acknowledgement of Louis and Anita Marks’ generous bequest.”
Peter Downham and Adrian Fletcher who co-Chair the Hesketh Park Heritage Group said:
“The Hesketh Park Heritage Group continues to work with Sefton MBC and all voluntary groups within Hesketh Park to ensure this treasured space will be available for the benefit of local residents, visitors to Southport and future generations.
“We are pleased to have been consulted and involved in the critical discussions which have led to this generous legacy coming to Hesketh Park. We see our ongoing role to ensure that the money is spent wisely and in a timely manner to enhance and maintain the Park for the future.”
Nikki Morris, CEO of Deafblind UK, said:
“We are absolutely delighted about the forthcoming improvements to Hesketh Park, which will, once again become a safe and accessible haven for local people who have sight and hearing loss. We are grateful to the Hesketh Park Heritage Group for working so closely with Deafblind UK and taking the people we support into account throughout the planning process.”
The first phase of restoring Hesketh Park’s Conservatory was completed in 2021 as a result of Sefton Council successfully securing a £22,000 grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Once the refurbishment is completed further arrangements will be made to seek a contractor to manage and operate it.
People can find out more about Sefton’s parks at www.sefton.gov.uk/parks.
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What a joy to know that someone who could afford to do it has left a bequest to upgrade the once gorgeous Hesketh Park. I have just returned from a month-long visit to Southport which to me used to my idea of heaven only to remember the shocking decline in the town in general. Certainly, there have been improvements since my last visit a year ago but there is truly much to do. Eastbank Street should be closed and started over. I spent a lot of time waiting for the No.46 bus to go back to my lodging and the behaviours and loutish disregard for anyone else was something to behold. Litter and patches of vomit are not a pretty site. And I am old enough to remember what Southport was like before its descent into Sefton.
And the now deserted Remedy in Lord Street beggars belief. The council should give all young dole recipients the opportunity to help to clean up the town and raise their self-esteem at the same time. Oh for the good old days of hanging baskets, red and cream buses and lamp standards, and no litter.