The People’s Park
Taking a walk through Bute Park today, it is difficult to imagine that only five years ago, people’s dwell time in the park was very short and one of Cardiff’s most valued and hidden treasures wasn’t meeting its full potential. Gifted to the people of Cardiff to enjoy, this green, open space at the very heart of Wales’ capital city was in desperate need of restoration. Graffiti, building damage and encroachment of ivy was making parts of the park look in a sorry state.
Fast forward five years, £5.6m pounds of investment and a lot of hard of work, and we can honestly say that Bute Park is thriving. Visitor numbers have increased 100%, with over two million visits each year and Bute Park now sits firmly within Cardiff’s top five attractions on TripAdvisor and is officially the number one park in the city, and all because of this project, bringing the park back to life.
Cyclists, joggers, walkers, families and tourists are now taking advantage of the park’s vast new offering but even if you set the remarkable visitor statistics to one side, the project’s ‘people impact’ makes it a success story in itself. We now have two full time staff members, two Bute Park dedicated summer rangers, a new friends group in place and volunteer numbers are going from strength to strength as a direct result of the funding we’ve received.
Originally funded through the project, the Park Manager and the Education and Outreach Officer are now paid for by the park, as a direct result of the park’s significantly increased income through its three new cafes and full event programme. We were also able to give two new apprentices the opportunity to work with us which ensured a continuation of skilled gardeners, enabling the park to be maintained to the highest standards for future generations. Maggie Szczerbnska and Anthony Davies attained National Certificates in horticultural skills and both now work full-time for Cardiff Councils’ Park Services, using their newly gained qualifications to share their expertise in a sector where skilled people are desperately needed.
Our growing army of volunteers are also helping to make a noticeable change in the park, whether they’re litter picking, maintaining paths, creating habitats or helping us clear invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam. They’re the eyes and ears of Bute Park, keeping it alive, helping it to grow and thrive and helping us to keep it a park for the people.