IT’S play time again for kids in Blakeney thanks to a successful campaign to reinstate the village’s lost play area.

A new playground was unveiled at the recreation ground on Saturday (November 12) following more than a year of fundraising activity.

Led by a sub-committee of the Blakeney and District Recreation Centre, a campaign for a new play area was launched early last year after the old one was removed at short notice because it was deemed unsafe.

The committee soon set about gathering feedback from the community and children from Blakeney Primary School on what was needed and how a new playground should look.

And, thanks to funds raised locally and grants from waste company Biffa, the Gloucestershire Playing Fields Association and the National Lottery the new park opened for play last weekend.

Rebekah Hoyland, county councillor for Blakeney and a member of the sub-committee, said: “Since the old play equipment had to be taken down, the families of Blakeney have been left with nothing for the young children to play on at the recreation ground.

“This galvanised the community and with huge energy and commitment a group have worked to bring everyone together, listening to what was needed, to the dreams of and for their children and grandchildren.”

The sub-committee was formed after the removal of the previous area left only a single swing as public play equipment for more than 250 children in the local area.

Residents supported the project by taking part in surveys, voting on the final design and attending fundraising events, including an autumn fair and pub quizzes.

Children at Blakeney Primary School participated in a logo competition and also provided design feedback that was “integral” to the success of the project.

Beth Fordham, chair of the sub-committee, said: “Having no play area in the village made the pandemic tougher for many local families.

“Our approach to this project throughout has been to engage residents and schoolchildren in making sure that we create a hub that meets everyone’s needs.

“Thanks to all the positive engagement we have received through questionnaires and local fundraising events, as well as the generosity of Biffa Award, it is wonderful that the result will be an exciting park that all members of the community can enjoy for many years to come.”

As well as the play equipment, the committee says new seating and picnic benches will be provided at a later date for all members of the community to use, as well as a nature trail around the recreation ground which is currently in development.

Local resident Shona Cadogan, who grew up in Blakeney and now has three children of her own, said: “For us as a family, the new playground will mean so much.

“Blakeney is a thriving community which offers so much to families and yet there is currently no focal area for children.

“In order to take our children to a playground, we need to drive to a neighbouring town or village – the rising fuel costs and time constraints on a busy family means that this unfortunately cannot happen as frequently as the children would like, and ultimately they miss out.

“Our children have been so excited to have had their voices heard through the planning stages.

“This is something that Blakeney as a community, as well as for the families who reside here, have been desperately in need of for far too long.”

The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Biffa Award, a multi-million pound fund from Biffa to help build communities, through national tax credit scheme the Landfill Communities Fund.