Playground refurbishment bid

The Fence Friends Park Fund group hopes to gradually open the area as they buy play equipment piece by piece
The Fence Friends Park Fund group hopes to gradually open the area as they buy play equipment piece by piece

A massive fund-raising campaign is under way to restore a dilapidated children’s playground.

The playground, in Fence, was unsafe and is now closed. Mum Liz Brown and her supporters now face raising at least £60,000 because the village project does not tick the correct boxes to attract cash from government or council sources.

To date, they have managed to scrape together £13,000 from coffee mornings and social evenings. Children keen to see their playground restored have taken up baking lessons and sold their wares to friends and neighbours.

They hope their latest venture “Grow Your Tenner”, where each donated £10 is matched through an internet giving site, will bring in a much-needed financial boost. The scheme begins on October 14th.

“We’re trying everything we can, but we are really struggling” said Mrs Brown, who lives near the Old Laund Street playground. “We don’t tick any of the right boxes for diversity or being in a deprived area and we can’t get a penny.

“The £13,000 has taken us 14 months and the bill for the groundwork alone came to £16,000. We had to start there because there are no land drains and the playground gets waterlogged when it rains.

“The parish council provided £4,600 towards the cost, and the money had to be spent within a given financial year. We simply could not afford to turn it away, so we went ahead with the work, but the land has to stay closed because it is not safe to use as a playground.”

The Fence Friends Park Fund group hopes to gradually open the area as they buy play equipment piece by piece. A small rocking toy for a toddler costs £450, a climbing frame as much as £14,000.

“It will be wonderful when it is done,” said Mrs Brown. “There are a lot of young families in the village and our children need somewhere to play. They are not allowed to use the school grounds, so they are restricted to their own gardens.”

The next social event is at the Fence Gate on November 21st. It is billed as a fun fund-raising night with a three-course meal, music from the band Splinter and a rodeo reindeer. Tickets are £25.