By Gemma Tetley
Over 4 years ago, in Gargrave, we started a group with just a few mums who felt that our Village playground was no longer a very fun or very safe place to be. With aged wooden equipment that was either broken, rotten or missing, we knew we had to raise money to do this for our children.
We all agreed that a park is and should be the hub and heart of a village when you have children. It’s a place that you meet new friends, problem share with other parents and grandparents, while your children burn off energy and get some much-needed exercise and fresh air. It’s also a fun and happy place for families to go to that cannot always afford to go on days out or on a holiday.
We needed this for our village, so we started to raise money and the Gargrave Playground Association was born. We have had our fair share of struggles, tantrums and seen plenty of mums and dads stepping in and out of the group when its got too much over the years. We cannot lie, it’s been very hard work and our ideas and plans quite often had obstacles or unmovable walls that drove us to the end of our patience but this is a happy story and so we got back up, dusted off our coats and carried on.
It took us a while to get the village council on board, maybe because our ideas were too large or we seemed too giddy in our excitement. After a few years and countless meetings, money raising events, circus parties, craft stalls, bake sales, carol singing, Christmas grottos and numerous presentations to the village, school and council, we finally started moving forward and got everyone on board. We opened our bank account and became an official charity with a board of enthusiastic charity members.
We started to apply for every grant and scrap of money possible to raise the large amount needed for the brand new graffiti and fire resistant equipment from the amazing Proludic.
We cleared borders and planted fruit bushes, flowers and insect-loving plants in our wildlife areas. It soon became apparent that we would also need money for new topsoil and turfing, removal of the old equipment and safe disposal of wet pour rubber, plus a herringbone drainage system because the grass flooded every winter. We had to work hard, learn lots about building work and pull together as a team.
Our hard work and dedication have paid off and we’re now very proud to announce that we have finally completed this amazing green outdoor space for the children and their families to play in and enjoy. There is now a long zip wire, a special sunken trampoline, a seated roundabout, giant wave slide and huge triangle summit net. As an acknowledgement of Gargrave’s Roman history (evidence of which includes the Roman villa remains and the Roman road through the river), a Roman fort and slide is now available for the smaller children. We also have sensory equipment such as talk tubes and a giant Connect Four.
There’s plenty for teens to do too! With a challenging giant climbing frame and monkey bars, there’s plenty to hang off and bounce on. The new park is also more user-friendly for those in wheelchairs as the round picnic tables allow for wheelchairs to be drawn up to the tabletop.
We want to throw a big family day event to thank all the amazing mums, dads, families, groups, charities and companies that have helped make this possible – some have gone above and beyond for us!
Please bring a picnic and join us for fun, games, ice creams, cakes and much more on Sunday the 3rd of June from 12 pm onwards.
Follow us our Facebook page, “Gargrave Playground Association”, to keep up to date with news and to see pictures of the park’s transformation.