Pair of Harpenden playgrounds due for makeover as fundraiser hits target

Flashback photo, to the launch of the Southdown play area project in Harpenden for funding. Photo co

Flashback photo, to the launch of the Southdown play area project in Harpenden for funding. Photo courtesy of David Whitbread from the Harpenden Photographic Society - Credit: David Whitbread

Months of hard work have resulted in tens of thousands of pounds being raised to revamp an “old and sad” looking play area, to benefit future generations in Harpenden.

Last autumn, Cllr Teresa Heritage asked Southdown residents for help with improving two playgrounds - at Oakley Road, off Grove Road, and behind Magna Close, on the Cross Farm estate.

A dodgy slide had to be removed from the Oakley Road site in 2013, leaving just four pieces of equipment for children of over 2,000 households to play on.

Cllr Heritage’s plea resulted in a group of volunteers banding together to form the Southdown Play Areas Working Group (SPAWG).

Earlier this year co-chair of the group Glyn Goodwin explained: “After the slide was taken away we found out there was no money to replace it and some of the equipment has been there for 15 years and has come to the end of its life.”

Rather than ‘sit back’, the group of unpaid volunteers worked hard to successfully raise tens of thousands of pounds for the first stage of the revamp, to provide equipment aimed at children aged between two and 12 at Oakley Road.

Their target was reached with the help of generous sponsors, funding from various grants and private and corporate donations.

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But they are not resting on their laurels just yet – the group is already focused on fundraising for the second stage, to modernise the area behind Magna Close.

Glyn said: “The two areas are an important part of the community, having served many children for many, many years, and everyone would like to see these play areas used by children for many more years to come. Much of the equipment on both sites [looks] old and sad.”

Transforming the play ground behind Magna Close, in the middle of an estate, will incorporate more equipment for a slightly older age range.

Cllr Heritage said: “It has been a real community project and I’m very grateful to everyone for their hard work – without which this wouldn’t have happened.

“We are going to put the order in for the equipment, and it should be installed by spring.”

• SPAWG will be at the Southdown Christmas lights switch-on, on November 27, where the group will have a reindeer treasure hunt. A ‘welly walk’ is planned for early December. See for more information.