Brent Bennett

A Rhondda Cynon Taf Council worker has been crowned Green Flag Employee of the Year, beating all other nominees from around the country for the coveted title.

Brent Bennett, age 48, is the operations and training manager at the award-winning National Lido Of Wales, Lido Ponty, based at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd, and is a key member of the Park team.

Mr Bennett, who lives in Abercynon, said he is delighted to be announced as the Green Flag Employee of the Year in Wales.

The Green Flag Awards recognises and rewards those who work within parks and open spaces, ensuring they are properly managed and meet the needs of the communities they serve. Individuals must also show high standards of management while at the same time promoting and sharing good practices.

The Green Flag Employee of the Year award category was open to all employees working within Green Flag Award winning sites across the UK, with winners announced for Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Ynysangharad War Memorial Park has proudly flown the coveted Green Flag for 12 consecutive years, which is recognition from the national environment charity Keep Wales Tidy, supported by Welsh Government, for its excellent visitor facilities, high environmental standards and commitment to delivering great quality green space within Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Last month, the Council announced that the Park would benefit from a significant programme of improvement works thanks to the securing of substantial funding from the Valleys Taskforce, due to the site being designated as a Discovery Gateway Site for the Valleys Regional Park; and also from the National Heritage Lottery Fund’s Heritage for Communities Project. Works to deliver the Valleys Taskforce-funded elements have already commenced. 

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “Ynysangharad War Memorial Park is one of the jewels in the crown of Rhondda Cynon Taf, one of our many beautiful parks, and Brent is a key member of the Council’s dedicated Parks team.

“Since the opening of the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park back in 2015, Brent has also played a vital role in helping to make it one of the finest outdoor visitor attractions in Wales, something we are all so proud of.

“He has also helped overcome the challenges faced following the devastating storms which severely damaged both the Park and Lido facility in February 2020, and played a hands-on role in the massive clean-up operation that ensued.

“Brent was also recognised at the Green Flag Awards for his loyal support of the Friends of Ynysangharad War Memorial Park Group, and his work with biodiversity opportunities within our award-winning Park.

“On behalf of everyone associated with the Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, I congratulate Brent on becoming the Green Flag Employee of the Year - a very worthy winner.”

Brent, who is married to Kelly with two grown-up daughters Lauren and Alicia, was also recognised for his day-to-day approach to fostering a good relationship between the Council and a wide range of Park and Lido users, and where possible, working in partnership with them to improve their visitor experiences.

He started his career with the Local Authority in 1988 as a 16-year-old seasonal lifeguard at the swimming pool at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, working within the Council’s Leisure department.

Brent went on to work at Hawthorn Swimming Pool and then Abercynon Sports Centre, becoming a duty manager. He moved to Aberdare Swimming Pool as manager in 2004 and had a brief stint at Rhondda Fach Sports Centre before returning to Abercynon Sports Centre in 2009.

In 2016, his career brought him full circle back to Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, working within the Park and at the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty.

Brent Bennett, Green Flag Employee of the Year, said: “I am thrilled and humbled to receive this award in recognition of all the team’s hard work that has been carried out at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, after the terrible devastation caused by Storm Dennis.

“There were many areas of the Park that were severely damaged in the storm, including the Lido Ponty, and many of the outbuildings, including the Friends meeting place, which has now been transformed.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the Council’s area duty manager Dean Morgan-Jones, our Ranger Team, playgrounds manager Adam Kettley and his team for all the hard work that it took to get all these special places back to a sense of normality. It has been a long hard struggle but all the fruits of our labour are finally coming to fruition.”

The National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, is a result of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s amazing £6.3m Grade II Listed restoration project, made possible with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, Heritage Lottery Fund and Cadw.

Although severely damaged during Storm Dennis in the early part of 2020, extensive work is being carried out to once again restore the premier outdoor water attraction and adventure park in the heart of Ynysangharad War Memorial Park to its former glory.

The National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, currently closed to the public, was officially opened by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, and Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, in 2016. During its opening season, the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, attracted over 24,000 visitors.

Ynysangharad War Memorial Park is currently undergoing a significant programme of improvement, after securing a combined total of £1.9M, consisting of funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Welsh Government, along with further contributions from the Council.

Works under the Welsh Government’s Valleys Regional Park Programme element for improvements within the Park to the pathways and lighting, as well as the provision of a changing place facility within the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, building when it re-opens, are currently underway and will cause some disruption for Park users.

Posted on Monday 18th January 2021

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