Play area is ready to be built

A LONG-AWAITED playground for children living in a market town is a step closer to being installed.Sonya Extonhas been organising the project for a £60,000 play area in Wickham Market since September 2001.

A LONG-AWAITED playground for children living in a market town is a step closer to being installed.

Sonya Extonhas been organising the project for a £60,000 play area in Wickham Market since September 2001.

The fundraising was given a huge boost when an organisation confirmed at the last minute that it would give the playground kitty more than £20,000.

Only a few thousand pounds shy of their overall total, the Wickham Market Village Hall Playground Committee can now order some of the equipment for children up to 14, including a large climbing frame, a Supernova roundabout and see saws.


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Mrs Exton, who lives in the town and has two children aged seven and six, said the play area is on target to be installed in May.

Last weekshe was told that the Market Towns Initiative, which distributes money from the East of England Development Agency through Suffolk County Council, would award the project £21,800.

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She said: "That was the big icing on the cake. It literally was the last bit of funding we knew we were successful in getting. It did make a difference."

With the play area's fund nearly at its total, Mrs Exton looked back on the last three years of work.

She said: "It's been an eye-opener. I have enjoyed it but I have focused all my attention on it otherwise it would just fall to the wayside."

She championed the idea for a new playground, which will only take a week to install, after the existing one became unsafe.

"The majority of the equipment is quite old, with some of it being about 30 years old. It was in need of repair and in some cases it didn't offer much for young children," she said.

The project had already secured a big grant of £10,000 from the environmental body, Waste Recycling Environmental (WREN), which distributes money from the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme.

Suffolk Coastal District Council, the lottery organisation Awards For All, and the parish council have also contributed. Companies have held fundraising events, the latest being at the Bengal Tandoori Restaurant where the owner pledged half a night's takings of £300 to the playground.

The new playground will be positioned further out so that it is more visible to parents, with the idea that they can leave their children in the area and still see them from the playing field should they want to go for a walk.

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