It’s taken two years to secure planning, raise funds and construct but on Saturday 21 May, the hard work was definitely worth it after seeing over 100 children turn up, eagerly anticipating the opening of Botley Playing Fields’ playground in Chesham.
Before Town Mayor, Councillor Noel Brown cut the ribbon allowing entry into the park, Jacqui Rice, Chair of the Botley Playing Fields Association – made up of parents and community leaders – gave a heartfelt speech about the extensive planning, preparation and numerous meetings that took place to secure funding for their state of the art playground complete with trampoline, story corner and climbing frame.
In front of a crowd of 200 people, Jacqui also gave thanks to Heart of Bucks – of which Simon Deans is a board member – and B P Collins, which donated 2500 pounds out of the 62,000 pounds required – one of the project’s biggest donors. As part of B P Collins' corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, the firm has a stewardship fund managed by the Heart of Bucks, to manage the firm's charitable activities.
Quoted in the Bucks Free Press, Jacqui said:
“Most of the playground was deemed unsafe or unfit for purpose, so a group of us decided to get together to do something about it.
“We have done lots of fund raising, the community have been really generous and the result…[is]…a playground for the community to use to make Chesham a better place to live.”
B P Collins’ staff felt very passionate about this project, because it wasn’t just about providing new play equipment for children. It was also about securing green space for the local community to get together, reducing social segregation and helping all the people of Chesham to enjoy the beautiful environment on their doorstep.
Before construction started on the new playground, the existing one – which was 40 years old and had failed recent health and safety checks – had to be demolished; so the revamp couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
To ensure the new playground met today’s standards, the BPFA followed guidance from Play England's 10 Principles of Play and held numerous community consultations with residents and children.
With this feedback, they decided that the play area should reflect its beautiful surroundings, be accessible to all children (including those with disabilities), have longevity, be a place to socialise and integrate, be easy to maintain and include equipment that will encourage children of varying ages to play together.
After a dance troop performed, the playground opened up to the public for the very first time and will now be available to 1200 children in the local area to enjoy.