A new-look play area – designed with the community at heart – has been officially reopened in Martlesham.
Funded through East Suffolk Council’s Outdoor Playing Space Fund, and Martlesham Parish Council, redevelopment of the Jubilee Play Space has been a community effort, with involvement from across the village.
In February 2016 and 2018, 'Money to Play With' consultations sought views on how to spend available funds for 'sports and active play' from the Outdoor Playing Space Fund for Parishes.
The first of three projects identified for the parish council to take forward and deliver, a 5km trim trail around Martlesham, was completed in 2019.
In 2020, with the help of East Suffolk Council and members of the Martlesham community, the parish council began working on the next phase. Again, consultation took place and identified that young people wanted additional equipment in the play area, and somewhere to play football and basketball.
The play area now boasts a new circular group swing, multi-climber tower with slide and climbing features, a wobble bridge, fireman’s pole, inclined net bridges and a spin ball with ladder. Basketball posts and two football goals have also been installed on a newly laid tarmac surface.
The original play area was unveiled in 1977 and named in honour of The Queen’s Silver Jubilee. The year 2012 then marked the opening of the nearby Diamond Jubilee Bike Trails. And on Friday 15 July, coinciding with The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, a grand opening of the new-look play area was organised by Martlesham Parish Council and attended by local councillors and schoolchildren.
In the lead-up to the reopening, Martlesham Primary Academy held a poster competition, won by Year Five pupil Harry Edgar, 10, who was awarded the privilege of cutting the ribbon and the chance for classmates to have the first go on the equipment. Year Two pupils Teddy Cooper-Sutton and Lexi Silen, both seven, were named runners-up in the competition.
Goodie bags and prizes, including a table-tennis set, were also handed out to celebrate the event.
Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk Council's Cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said:
“This is a great example of working with the community to identify and meet a local need.
“The people of Martlesham have been consulted and encouraged to help shape the eventual outcome, which in this case happens to be a fantastic play area with something for just about anyone.
“It will provide another place for youngsters in the area to be physically and socially active.”
Martlesham Parish Council Chairman Mike Wilkinson told gathered schoolchildren:
“I’m absolutely delighted we could get the play space refurbished for the Platinum Jubilee year. It’s been going for 45 years – and I hope we can keep it going for another 45 years.
“As someone who was once a child, and has since become a parent and grandparent, I have learnt – during my long life – of the value of play. It helps to form friendships and integrate people with members of society they may otherwise not have known. It’s one of the best starts you can have in life – and to have a play area like this is smashing.”