Playtime is now twice as good for residents

Bicester Advertiser: Olympic torchbearers cut the ribbon at the Harwell playground – from left, Fiona Danks, Dave Bracher and Emma Cuthbertson Buy this photo Olympic torchbearers cut the ribbon at the Harwell playground – from left, Fiona Danks, Dave Bracher and Emma Cuthbertson

TWO playgrounds in Oxfordshire have been opened after communities raised tens thousands of pounds to build them.

A £100,000 multi-use games area has been created in Dean Court, Oxford, and £60,000 of new play equipment has been installed in Harwell, Didcot.

Opening ceremonies were held over the weekend and hundreds of residents turned out to use the new facilities.

London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Lily van den Broecke – who coxed the British Fours – opened the new facilities at Orchard Road in Dean Court on Saturday.

The caged multi-use games area features football and basketball nets, and St Andrews Church, which led the project, hopes to install floodlighting and tennis and netball nets in the future.

The £100,000 was donated by Community Spaces, Cumnor Parish Council and other charitable trusts.

Cumnor parish youth worker Henry Joines said: “Behind the church there was a lot of hard court but it was quite dilapidated and we were not able to use it.

“The church wanted to renovate it and create something new and felt a multi-use games areas would be the best way of doing that.”

“The new games area is fantastic. I run the after school youth club for local kids and it will totally re-energise what we are doing and the kids now have a great place to come.”

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Meanwhile, two years after youngsters from Harwell’s youth centre first suggested improving the play area in Westfield, it reopened on Saturday. by Olympic torchbearers Fiona Danks, Dave Bracher and Emma Cuthbertson.

The area features improved tunnels and swings as well as a new wooden climbing frame, slide and swing bridge.

Fundraisers hope to raise a further £20,000, which they are half way towards, by spring to install a new zip wire, rotary dish and basket swing. Harwell resident Liz Waters, who visited the opening with her husband Richard and their children Lucy, six, and Thomas, three, said: “It was brilliant and the children love the new play area.

“The best moment was when they opened the gates and released the kids. It was great to see them surge forward and play in the park.”

Fundraising organiser Di Baker said: “The playground was 25 or 30 years old and it was really past its sell-by date. A lot of thing were broken and some had been vandalised.”

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