A FORMER miner has been awarded for his work at Rabbit Ings Country Park.

Mick Birkinshaw, the ranger at the Royston park, beat off stiff competition from all around the country to take the Land Trust's 'Ranger of the Year' award.

The Land Trust, which has over 50 parks and open spaces around the country, presented Mick the award in recognition of his tireless and enthusiastic work managing the park for the local community.

Euan Hall, the trust's chief executive, said: "Mick is a fantastic ranger and an amazing bloke. His enthusiasm for the park is seemingly unending and he passes this on to every visitor.

"The award recognises the hard work he has done to improve the park for both people and nature.

"He has been very successful in getting people involved in the park from working with school groups and teaching them the joys of nature to providing opportunities for people to volunteer."

Mick started work at the park when it opened in 2011 having spent a big part of his working life as a miner. It's especially fitting that Rabbit Ings is the restored site of the former Monckton Colliery and Royston Drift Mine.

Although Mick himself worked at the nearby South Kirkby Colliery, his great grandfather, great uncles, grandfather, uncles and father actually worked at Monckton Colliery.

"My great grandfather walked to Royston from Birmingham in the 1890s to work at the pit here," Mick said. "My grandad was born in Royston in 1897 and most of my family were miners in this area.

"I have a sense of pride knowing that they worked under the very ground where I stand and I often wonder what they’d think if they saw the site as it is today and could see people enjoying a beautiful green space."