collage of images of Julie Procter at the Laigh Hills Park

Julie Procter, Laigh Hills Park, Stirling

You come down here, and you take a deep breath and let the stress of the world go away for a wee while.

Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland, has a strong connection to her own local park. Visiting the park each day, she makes up at least 365 of the 162 million visits that Scots make to their parks and greenspaces each year. There is a strong and growing body of evidence that spending time outside greatly benefits our physical health and mental wellbeing, something that Julie experiences herself in Laigh Hills Park.

“It’s amazing how much sky you can see here. I’m about a two minute walk away from Laigh Hills – you walk along the street and down the steps, and it’s like you’ve been transported into the countryside. We’ve got wonderful trees – it’s quite a wild park in terms of being very natural – and a lovely boardwalk that leads you down over the wetlands and takes you up over the railway line where you can see over the hills and look back into Dunblane. Every time you come here, it’s different. Right now the meadowsweet flowering, in spring there are bluebells, then tadpoles in the pond, and there’s always rabbits bobbing about. You come down here, and you take a deep breath and let the stress of the world go away for a wee while.

I come here a few times a day – it’s always good to get out and have a walk first thing. Even if I’m rushing for time I’ll have a five-minute walk, sometimes in the evening I’ll walk through on my way home from the station. It’s such a friendly place: the minute you step into a park, everybody says hello to each other. There’s a real strong sense of community and a feeling of ‘this is our park’.

A few years ago a community orchard was planted, now we’ve got two areas of fruit trees that are all heritage Scottish varieties. They’ve all got wee signs on them telling you what they are, what they taste like and when they’ll be ready – and anyone can help themselves!”

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