Jim getting on his bike for trek across country for beloved park

Jim Bennie doing his training in Zetland Park. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jim Bennie doing his training in Zetland Park. Picture: Michael Gillen

A world bodybuilding champ in his seventies is throwing his weight behind a community effort to give a cherished public park a million-pound makeover.

Jim Bennie is getting on his bike to pedal the length of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals for a Friends of Zetland Park campaign to access a £2.5 million pot of cash for the public amenity in Grangemouth.

All local residents and businesses have to do to receive the money is raise £25,000 – not an unreachable target in the grand scheme of things these days – by showing a little community spirit and getting involved in fundraising events and Jim is certainly doing his bit.

Fitness-mad Jim (74) is no stranger to endurance challenges. Despite his age he is still in the gym four nights a week to keep the physique men 40 or 50 years his junior would be proud of in shape.

The Grangemouth grandfather, who owned a well known plumbing and bathroom firm, has enjoyed a stellar sporting career as a champion swimmer and road cyclist, and even competed for Scotland as a gymnast at the 1969 World Games in Switzerland.

Back in 2011 he decided to try his hand bodybuilding and within two years of working out at the Tone Zone fitness club in York Arcade he became the over-70s world champion at the natural bodybuilding world championships in Miami.

He also does a bit of ballroom at the local D & E Dancing class, but he is swapping his dancing shoes for his bike for the 66-mile cycle challenge from Bowling in West Dunbartonshire to Edinburgh on July 2.

He doesn’t want to do it on his own and is urging the whole of the Grangemouth community to either join him on the cycle – or parts of it – or donate money to the campaign to ensure the town doesn’t miss out on a great opportunity to breathe new life into Zetland Park.

Jim, who is an active member of the Zetland Park group, said: “Zetland Park has been a fantastic place for the whole Grangemouth community for decades and it would be great if everyone supported this effort to raise the money to have it regenerated for generations to come.

“My target is to raise around £4000 through this cycle and I would like to encourage people to join me and raise even more money for a great cause.”

The people of Grangemouth have been challenged to raise £25,000 in support of an application by Falkirk Council to Heritage Lottery’s Parks for People Programme for £2.5 million of investment in the town’s Zetland Park.

Organisations and individuals have been getting involved such as Grangemouth Rotary Club which has already pledged to donate a third of the target – £8333 – if the rest of the town can raise £16,667.

A further £2614 was collected from the retiral collection at the funeral of the late Grangemouth haulier Duncan Adams, who passed away in February, and was a great lover of the park.

For more information on the fundraising campaign visit www.mypark.scot/projects/zetlandpark