Gruelling cycle puts park project on right track

The team at the halfway point at the Falkirk Wheel of the 66-mile cycle ride
The team at the halfway point at the Falkirk Wheel of the 66-mile cycle ride

A historic park is bang on track for an ambitious £2.5 million refurbishment after a 66-mile cycle ride helped to close in on the fundraising target.

Ten hardy souls pedalled the length of the Forth and Clyde and Union canals - from Bowling, West Dunbartonshire to central Edinburgh - on Sunday raising between £3500-£4000.

The tally brings the Grangemouth group Friends of Zetland Park needing just another £5000 by September to reach the new £40,000 revised target it set.

Originally, the community of Grangemouth had to raise £25,000 as part of a proposal with Falkirk Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the millions.

The £25,000 was raised weeks ago thanks to a fantastic response from local residents and the target was raised to reaffirm to HLF the determination of the community to see the park brought back its former glory when it was gifted to the people of the town by the Earl of Zetland in 1880.

The organiser of Sunday’s cycle, Jimmy Bennie (74), a former world over-70 bodybuilding champion, said the gruelling challenge proved how people are working together to make the dream come true.

The team who made it all the way from Bowling-Edinburgh was: Jimmy, Lisa and Calvin Bennie; Karen Farrell; Helen Sedgwick; Graham Forshaw; Dan Jackman; Jack Millar; Sandy Muir; and Murray Ford.

Park committee group member Steven Mathew and Falkirk Herald reporter Scott McAngus also cycled 45 and 46 miles respectively on Sunday.

Jimmy said: “It was an incredible day and a great team effort by everyone who worked together to reach our goals.

“I’d like to thank everyone who donated, George Lowe our driver who dropped us off and picked us up and transported the bikes and the cafe at the Falkirk Wheel for kindly donating the tea, coffee and scones at the halfway point.

“I did get a bit emotional at the end when everyone stopped and let me lead them in to the finish line. The team was absolutely fantastic.”

Steven Mathew said: “Friends of Zetland Park and the Grangemouth community is thankful for the efforts of everyone who got involved on Sunday and all the other fundraising pledges we have received.

“The cycle was a fantastic effort. The more we bring to the project the more chance we have of succeeding.

“The park brings back so much nostalgia for people. One elderly woman who used to play in the park as a child heard about the project and donated £140, that’s how much people care about it.”

The fundraising is still ongoing. You can now donate to the project by texting FOZP50 and your amount to 70070.

For more information and to see all the donation pledges, click here.