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Rising Sun volunteers create a new wildlife pond, with help from seven-year-old Lily Rose

Volunteers have waded in to transform an old swamp into a colourful pond and wildlife haven in North Tyneside.

The Friends of Rising Sun County Park took it upon themselves to resurrect the neglected pond and overgrown garden, which is close to the visitor centre at the heart of the 400-acre beauty spot. 

With funding from the Banks Group and support from North Tyneside Council, as well as several local firms, they dug out the 20ft x 30ft pond, replaced the lining, built a new fence, improved the access and planted thousands of bulbs.

They then set a challenge for the community to come up with a name for the pond and when the family of seven-year-old Lily Rose put forward some suggestions, they found the perfect name was right under their noses.

Lily, who visits the Rising Sun Country Park regularly with her family and loves spotting newts at the pond, was overjoyed to have the pond named after her.

Her mum, Gemma Steel, a primary school teacher from Whitley Bay, said: “We entered the competition and sent in some suggestions for naming the main pond. They weren’t chosen but Lily’s name was chosen and now it feels as though we won.

“It’s the perfect name for a natural space. The Rising Sun is brilliant for families and we always have a good day out when we come here.”

The area is now flourishing with bees, butterflies and amphibians and has become a popular destination for school groups.   

Keith Page, Secretary of the Friends group, said: “The restored Lily Rose pond was named by a young lady from Whitley Bay and it was chosen because it was such an appropriate and lovely name. She is absolutely chuffed to bits and the fact that she is from the borough and a regular visitor makes it even more special. 

“The pond had to be completely dug out and everything thrown away. The lining had perished and over time it had become a quagmire. It ceased to be a pond.

“We’ve had great support from some of the local companies who have come along and helped us with some of the heavy-digging and planting. It’s team-building at its best and it’s fantastic to see people taking pride. We’re very pleased with the results.

The pond was officially opened by North Tyneside Councillor Carl Johnson, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Transport.

He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, another great community project. We are very fortunate in North Tyneside to have so many groups that really step forward for the local area and transform these spaces for everyone to use and enjoy.

“People often say the coast is the jewel in the crown of North Tyneside but I always say there are two and the Rising Sun is the other one. If you’ve not been here before, it’s a fabulous space and I recommend people to come and explore it.”

For further information about the Friends of the Rising Sun or to lend a helping hand with litter picking, stalls and other activities to raise funds to support wildlife and nature in the park, search ‘Friends of Rising Sun Country Park’ on Facebook.