COLCHESTER’S beautiful green spaces received the highest praise when they were found to be among the best in the country.

The Green Flag Awards, which shine a light on the UK’s very best parks, saw Castle Park, High Woods Country Park and Colchester Cemetery pick up the top prize.

The three spaces are among 1,883 parks and green spaces to receive an award.

The international accolade, now in its third decade, is a sign to visitors that the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards and is beautifully maintained.

The three winners are owned by Colchester Council, with councillor Tina Bourne heaping praise on the groups who keep the spaces looking trim.

She said: “Congratulations to all the members of our parks and open spaces teams, whose hard work and dedication ensures our parks are welcoming, well maintained and safe.

“Credit must also go to the many volunteers who help us keep these wonderful spaces clean.”

The Friends of Castle Park, a dedicated group of around 60 volunteers, have worked alongside the council for 15 years to keep the park spotless.

Mrs Bourne added: “We will continue to work hard to manage these wonderful outdoor spaces to the highest standard.

“We want to encourage more visitors to enjoy these quality green spaces we are so lucky to have on our doorstep.”

Castle Park also received the Green Heritage Site Accreditation, recognising the management of its historic features.

High Woods Country Park is known for its lush woodland, open spaces, lake and wildflower meadows.

Alongside marshy areas, hayfields and scrubland, it is home to thousands of birds and mammals.

Colchester Cemetery opened in 1856 and boasts more than 1,000 mature trees from a Victorian tree planting scheme.