A schoolboy praised for his bravery in dealing with Type 1 diabetes was the VIP guest at the official opening of a children’s playground and recreation park which has been transformed thanks to a community fundraising drive.
Jack Roberts, 10, who lives opposite the playground in Llanferres, near Mold, was delighted to cut the opening ribbon in front of family, school friends and community members.
Jack and his friends have been overjoyed by the major facelift of the much-loved adventure area thanks to help from the Chester-based family firm Creative Play which designs, manufactures and installs state-of-the-art playground equipment.
The contemporary new look, achieved with £24,000 worth of charitable grants and fundraising via the Llanferres Playing Field and Recreation Association, includes top of the range climbing, swinging and rope obstacle challenges, an exhilarating zip wire, all-weather safe surfaces and seating areas.
For Ysgol Bro Famau pupil Jack, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Type 1 diabetes, four years ago, the playground has extra significance because it offers him a great chance to get the exercise he needs to help stay on top of his condition.
His mum, self-employed accountant, Louisa Roberts, said: “Along with injecting insulin with every meal, Jack needs regular exercise, as staying active also helps to keep Jack’s blood sugar levels under control, so having the playground right here in the heart of the community is fantastic for us.”
Liverpool and Barcelona football fan, Jack, whose dad Steven works in IT, has a younger brother, Adam, aged seven and sister Hannah, five, who regularly join him to have fun in the revamped playground.
“My favourite new piece of equipment is a challenge where you have to hop across some wooden planks. I love it, and all the other obstacles too!” said Jack.
Creative Play’s Rob Williams, who oversaw the project on behalf of the family firm, said: “From the moment we met with the association, it was clear that they were determined to create the best possible facility they could within their hard-earned budget. We talked with them to get a feel for the style of equipment they wanted and then put together some ideas for them to select from.
“It was important that the space had a natural community feel and didn’t seem like it was just for toddlers or just for teenagers. It needed to be somewhere for all ages to use and take pleasure in re-visiting time and again.
“Our designers are all specialists in outdoor play equipment construction so we were fairly quickly able to come up with some solutions, including our popular Trim Trail range, which we felt would work perfectly.
“The feedback we have had from Jack, his family and other children in the village has been really positive.
“One of the best parts of my job is to know how much what we do benefits young people and this is one of the best examples.”
The leisure area was originally the culmination of a bumper fundraising effort by determined Llanferres villagers who joined forces two decades ago to form the Llanferres Playing Field and Recreation Association and create an outdoor family friendly arena for use by everyone in the village.
The association’s current secretary, Gareth Jaggard, who lives in the village with his wife Charlotte and their two children, Finley, five and Daniel, two, said: “It was a huge effort and it’s a credit to everyone who worked so hard at that time 20 years ago to make their dream come true of creating a recreation area where families could happily gather.
“But in a recent health and safety inspection it became clear that some of the equipment was time worn, in need of replacing, and the area as a whole required a general overhaul. The last thing we wanted was to see it fall into disrepair so we put our heads together and determined on a plan for improvements.”
The association, which is a registered charity, applied for grant assistance from various bodies and was rewarded with two mini windfalls. It received a £5,000 donation from Santander’s local communities fund and £12,000 from Tesco’s bags of help scheme, in which money from carrier bag sales is given to charitable projects.
The association also did some fundraising of its own to add to the total pot required of £24,000. It considered various options when it came to selecting play equipment.
Gareth said: “We were impressed with Creative Play’s designs. The equipment they supply has just the right feel for the direction we wanted to take the playground in and it is terrific quality.
“Their company’s representatives were available to help and advise us through each stage of the project and they were a real pleasure to work with, so friendly, helpful and informative.”
Creative Play is based on Sealand Road Industrial Estate in Chester. Each playground is designed to suit the client’s specifications, depending on their budget and location.
All of Creative Play’s equipment is designed and manufactured by the company’s in house teams, who use state of the art equipment and specialise in timber, plastic or metal.
Creative Play’s own teams install all of the equipment and surfacing to meet the requirements of the client and their own rigorous quality standards.
Next to the Llanferres playground is a pretty woodland walk, which includes a wildflower meadow, wetland garden, picnic tables and a barbecue area, free for use by all residents of Llanferres. There’s also an information board and safe, gated access.
The association leases the land for the recreation area from Llanferres Community Council which allows them to have it for a peppercorn rent of £1 a year. Gareth and a group of locals share in undertaking general maintenance work such as grass cutting, shrub pruning and weeding, and the association would be happy to welcome more volunteers.
Gareth said: “It is a joy to think that what started out as a dream venture thought up by a few determined villagers was not only turned into fruition, but is still thriving and looking as dazzling as ever 20 years later.
“We want to thank everyone who contributed to its success – the people who regularly turn out for our fundraising events, the organisations who generously awarded us grants without which we could not have done this, and to all the professionals like those at Creative Play who helped us make the new design a reality.”
For more information visit: www.creativeplayuk.com