Playbarn to keep memories alive and help other Suffolk families

A father who lost two of his children at a young age is preparing himself for an emotional milestone later this month when he opens the playbarn in east Suffolk that he created in their memory.

Farmer Guy Hayward, 43, will be opening the new children’s play centre in Lower Hacheston with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, April 24, after more than three years of planning and hard work.

He has build it as a lasting tribute to his children, to keep their memory alive by helping other families.

It followed the tragic loss of two young children – Mr Hayward’s 15 month-old son Oliver, who died in his cot in 2001, and his daughter Star, who died under similar circumstances in 2011, aged just 28 days.

Mr Hayward, who has three other children, aged between two and 16, said the project has kept him positive in his and his family’s grief.

Over the past year the building has been slowly taking shape and Mr Hayward now says it “looks incredible”, thanks to the support from Nikki Bertram, his friend and a stylist.

“It looks very homely and welcoming and I think people will be really quite amazed by it,” he added,

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Having spent so much time on the project, which is of great personal importance to him and his family, Mr Hayward said it was a “huge relief” to be nearing completion.

“I think it’s been so busy that I’ve not been able to think too much about the main reasons behind it,” he said.

“I’ve just been so tied up with it all, but I think all of the history behind it will come to a head on that Friday morning.”

“It will mean a lot to all of us and it’s going to be an emotional moment for the family.”

The Oliver Hayward Playbarn, as it has been named, will offer a soft play area for around 15 children, aged up to seven years, at any one time. Parents will also be catered for with a cafe serving hot and cold drinks, and locally-sourced snacks, along with free wi-fi in comfortable surroundings.

It is envisaged that a share of the profits from the playbarn will go to support the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.

Mr Hayward said two test runs held in recent weeks had proved “very successful” and he is now looking forward to the official opening.

The playbarn will open initially from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Fridays and from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It will also be open on bank holidays.

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