Young children in a Darlington village have somewhere new to play thanks to a long-term community fundraising campaign and financial backing from a regional employer.
The Bishopton Playground Association has been working for four years to create a new playground in the village, which only otherwise has a school playground that is only available during term times.
Having secured a piece of land near the village school for the project three years ago, a team of local volunteers has been working to level and prepare it, as well as to install fencing and hedging around it to make sure it’s safe for its young users.
A range of pre-Covid community fundraising activities were carried out to raise the money needed for this preparatory work, with a £5,000 grant from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’ nearby Moor House wind farm also being provided.
And now, a further £3,000 grant from the community benefits fund linked to Banks Renewables’ Lambs Hill wind farm near Sadberge has funded the purchase of new play equipment for the park.
This includes an adventure tower and two sets of swings, with one of them including a cradle swing for very young children and the other providing an accessible basket swing to ensure anyone can use it.
An official opening event will follow next year, with the Association now looking at fundraising for a footpath that will go right around the playground to make it safer to reach and to provide somewhere for local people to exercise.
Substantial community funding has been allocated to support projects in Bishopton from the two Banks Renewables wind farm community funds over the last few years, including the permanent installation of three speed monitoring devices to warn drivers to watch their speed when coming into the village, the refurbishment of planters and benches on the village green and the installation of a defibrillator.
Bishopton Playground Association committee member Norman Melaney said: “The absence of somewhere for our younger residents to play was something that really stood out and the community has really come together to address it, with more than 20 people involved in coordinating our work and many more supporting our fundraising activities.
“The playground is so much more than just the space and the pieces of equipment – it’s a focal point that brings different people together, provides a wealth of social and health benefits for our children and helps to promote a healthy active lifestyle, both physically and socially.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do half as much as we have without Banks’ continuing support for our work and the impact of the funding that’s been provided for this and other village projects has really had an energising effect on our community.”
Between them, the Moor House and Lambs Hill wind farms generate almost 59,000 MW of green electricity every year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 15,100 homes, and by doing so, displaces almost 20,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network per annum.
Eligibility for the two community funds is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities to each site, but projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Our wind farm community funds are designed to support good causes in surrounding communities which make a tangible difference to the lives of local people.
“The positive impact that revenues from the Moor House and Lambs Hill wind farms have had on Bishopton are plain to see right around the village and we’re very pleased to have been able to help the community’s impressive drive to improve facilities for local children reach a successful conclusion.”
Community groups, or voluntary organisations in the vicinity of the Moor House and/or Lambs Hill wind farms which are looking for a grant of up to £3,000 should contact the Banks Community Fund manager at the County Durham Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.