Friends of Pickering Park

Friends of Pickering Park

The Friends of Pickering Park, formed in January 2007 with the aim of updating the park and broadening its appeal, carried out surveys among Park users and local residents.  The general consensus showed a majority believed that there was nothing in the park for older children to occupy their time. Accordingly, plans were drawn up, solidified by further surveys among local schoolchildren, then grants sought to build an Adventure Zone. Insufficient funds were available to complete the whole project so the top five wishes of the children were installed: a zip wire, nest swing, cycle track, perch bars and wobble dishes with funds left over to add a timber bench and timber picnic tables and seats. It was termed it ‘exercise by stealth’ as all of the pieces chosen provided some sort of exercise during play. Although the Adventure Zone gained popularity as soon as it was installed, the children still wanted things to climb.

Another round of fund-raising was instigated leading to the installation of the trim trail/assault course.   The CHCP CIC grant covered the hammock net, a rock wall leading to a hammock to cross to the other rock wall and able to accommodate up to eight children at a time, the net cone and the hexagonal climber with panels of rungs, ropes and nets to climb, again able to take eight children at a time.   Other pieces include a springboard balance beam, monkey bars with trapeze rings, tyre walk, tyre bridge, triple zig-zag balance board, log crossing and pole climber. Again, all of these pieces provide exercise through play.

Further funds were obtained to install an outdoor gym; three pieces are child-size so that families are encouraged to come down to the park and once the children want to move on to the trim trail or zip wire then the parents can still use the gym equipment and watch over the children at the same time.

On the first sunny weekend after the equipment was installed, queues were forming to use individual pieces! Everything is free of charge, available 24/7 and set in beautiful surroundings overlooking the lake. This is healthy living in open spaces, encouraging exercise without blood, sweat and tears (everything is surrounded by surface matting), often without the children realising they are exercising.   Parents waiting for their children are actually talking to each other, thereby increasing social cohesion.

Once the CHCP CIC grant was awarded, the Friends are sure it encouraged others to support the project, which has boosted the reputation of the Friends of Pickering Park for its work for the local community.

Although it has not formally been measured a local CPSO has commented on the reduction in anti-social behaviour in the area since the equipment was installed.

Pat Tharratt, Secretary for Friends of Pickering Park, said,

“It is difficult to be sure exactly how many people are actually benefiting from this initiative, but it’s a lot.  My conservative estimate would be somewhere in the region of at least 500 people per annum but it is very likely to be nearer to 1000 people.”