East Belfast's Cregagh Green is the first project in the UK to be awarded funding by the London Marathon Charitable Trust (LMCT) as part of the Active Spaces programme, delivered in partnership with Fields in Trust to protect and activate outdoor recreation spaces.
Cregagh Green will now be protected in perpetuity through a legal Deed of Dedication between Belfast City Council and Fields in Trust. And a grant of £5,000 will help to promote physical activity and community participation in the space where George Best, dubbed by the Irish Football Association as the "greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland", first kicked a football as a young boy.
Councillor Adam Newton of Belfast City Council's People and Communities Committee said: "We've committed in our Belfast Agenda to making sure that everyone in Belfast experiences good health and wellbeing and that everyone in Belfast will be able to enjoy its parks and public spaces, so we're delighted to have secured this investment.
"It means that this valuable green space which has a unique association with one of our most famous sons, George Best, will be safeguarded, and that we can encourage more local people to follow in his footsteps and get active in Cregagh Green.
"Getting active in green spaces can have such a positive impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. What's even better is that it's free to get out and explore your local park or green space."
Chief Grants Officer for The London Marathon Charitable Trust, Sarah Ridley, said: "Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has funded a huge range of projects which have inspired millions of people to get active. Delivered in partnership with Fields in Trust, Active Spaces is our first nationwide funding initiative. It's great to see Cregagh Green become the first in the long list of inspiring projects which will be permanently protected through funding from The Trust enabling local people to enjoy the benefits of physical activity into the future."
Chief Executive of Fields in Trust, Helen Griffiths, said: "We believe the best way to protect our green spaces is for communities to get out and use them; this programme is encouraging new groups of users to enjoy their local green space. We will identify sites which are well loved by their communities and protect these spaces forever. The associated activity on site can help catalyse a local community to use their recreational space and get active."