Forty-five parks in Kent have been awarded Green Flag status after being recognised as some of the best kept outdoor spaces in the country.
The accolade, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, sets the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the UK and hands out the awards based on nominations from local authorities.
As well as the Green Flag Award, five Kent parks have also been given Green Heritage Site Accreditation.
These include The Great Lines Heritage Park in Gillingham, Oare Gunpowder Works in Faversham, Ellington Park in Ramsgate, Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells and Grosvenor and Hilbert Park in Tunbridge Wells.
The county's 45 parks are some of 175 across the south east which have reached the standards for the accolade this year, the biggest number since the scheme began 26 years ago.
The Green Flag Award scheme is managed by Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The announcement comes as new research carried out by YouGov for Keep Britain Tidy revealed 89% of dog walkers in the south east said going to the park made them more relaxed, while 87% said it made them happier.
Around 89% of parents of children aged four to 11 said going to the park makes their child happier, and 61% said it made their child calmer.
Some 26% of parents said a park that feels safe was the main thing they looked for when choosing where to visit and 63% of parents in the south east said the reason they took their child or children to the park is because it is free.
Commenting on the announcement of this year’s winners, Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “Parks are an essential part of our green infrastructure, playing a key role in our environmental sustainability.
“They are the beating heart of a community, providing countless benefits to people and wildlife.
“Importantly, they provide a green haven for everybody to enjoy, regardless of their age, social status, or ability to pay for access.
"It’s clear from our research that for quality green spaces to meaningfully contribute to our health and wellbeing, they must be universally accessible and fit for purpose.
“The Green Flag Award is a vital component in ensuring the continuing quality of our parks and green spaces, making sure they are managed to the highest standards and are safe and accessible.
“The news that a record number have achieved the Green Flag Award standard is testament to the hard work of the heroes tasked with looking after these national assets.”
Other Kent winners split by local authority include:
Folkestone and Hythe
Kent County Council
Tonbridge and Malling