Fifer at helm of green charity as it ramps up campaign to save our parks

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The leadership of a green charity which aims to save the nation’s parks and public spaces has passed from one Fifer to another.

Ewan Gillies, from Kirkcaldy, takes over at the helm of Fields In Trust (FIT) from Brian Samson, from Cupar, as the organisation ramps up its campaign to protect our green spaces.

FIT was perhaps better known as the National Playing Fields Association, which was founded by The Duke of York, later HM King George VI, in 1925.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ewan, a former Olympic and Premier League coach, said the ambition is for all Scots to have a less than a 10-minute walk to a public space.

Ewan Gillies and Brian SamsonEwan Gillies and Brian Samson
Ewan Gillies and Brian Samson

He is now the head of a charity which legally protects over 300 spaces in Scotland, ensuring they can never be built on or sold off for development.

Ewan said: “Parks and green spaces are proven to help people stay physically and mentally well, build community spirit, help combat loneliness and are important for the planet.

“But once they are lost, they are lost forever.

“Working with my colleagues on the Fields for Scotland committee and staff our goal is to protect them for the generations to come.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Posters for the 'Save Our Parks' cmapaignPosters for the 'Save Our Parks' cmapaign
Posters for the 'Save Our Parks' cmapaign

Ewan highlighted research which says preventative health benefits from regular park use are estimated to save NHS Scotland £9.5million every year*.

He added: “From both a wellbeing and a financial point of view, we cannot afford not to protect our green spaces. They are at the heart of the nation’s health.”

Ewan, who runs a media agency, has been vice chair of the Scottish committee since 2014 and was sportscotland’s civil rngineer and Lottery Sports fund manager between 1986 and 2001.

After a successful amateur rugby career with 308 appearances for Edinburgh Wanderers and district representation, he coached strength and conditioning to elite athletes - including the British Olympic and Scottish skiing squads and Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His predecessor, Mr Samson, said: “I am delighted that the committee will be led by Ewan who brings a wealth of skills and experience to the role at a really crucial moment for the future of green spaces in Scotland.”

In the wake of the pandemic and with more awareness of climate change more Scots value their dear green spaces, according to polling carried out by Fields in Trust.

68% are “concerned” or “very concerned” about “people in Scotland having unequal access to local parks. And with the cost-of-living crisis biting, 58% of families with children anticipate spending more leisure time on free or low-cost activities – including visits to parks and green spaces. #

Over the next 12 months Fields in Trust will be working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to secure the future of at least 20 green spaces to support the health and wellbeing of residents.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ewan also wants to forge similar ties with Fife Council and community organisations to see just how many parks, and green spaces FIT might help save over the coming years.

Fife only has 13 parks saved in perpetuity with none in the East Neuk at all.

Related topics: