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Elsing opens new village play area after Big EDP Lottery grant

06:30 10 February 2014

Villagers turned out for the official opening of the new play area at Elsing Village Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

Villagers turned out for the official opening of the new play area at Elsing Village Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

A village with a growing population of young children is celebrating the completion of its new community play area – thanks to the Big EDP Lottery fund.

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Elsing Village Hall was one of 14 community and voluntary groups to share a £250,000 jackpot, with the winning bids voted for by readers of the Times’ sister paper, the EDP.

The village, near Dereham, was given £24,369 in September to provide a new fenced-off play area for children aged up to 11, along with picnic tables and seating for older villagers.

The work was completed on Friday so, this weekend, families were invited to try out the new swings, quartet see-saw, springer, play tower and slide.

Pip Wallwork, chairman of the Elsing village hall team, said: “It is a small village with a growing population of children, which is quite rare. We are going up by two or three a year, because it such a lovely place to live. It is also quite isolated, and there are no facilities close by for children, and the roads are very dangerous.

“We had this piece of land at the side of the village hall which was not used, so because we have so many children we identified a real need for something here.

“That is what prompted us to apply. Because of all the Health and Safety and environmental issues, it was much more expensive than we could have hoped to raise the money for in a million years, so we were over the moon when we were awarded the money.

“Everybody is absolutely thrilled. The people here were behind it the whole time and they were involved in choosing the equipment. What made it so special for us is that the village hall is very popular and is used lots of times a week, and we wanted to include an opportunity for the older folk to enjoy the kids being there, so we had seating installed as well.”

To complement the grant, the village hall team funded a set of new French doors, creating easy access from the play area to events happening within the hall.

Among the parents at the new play area on Saturday was Catherine Zammit Haber, who brought her two-year-old twins Daisy and Bluebell.

She is a Key Stage One teacher at Litcham School, but is also Early Years trained, so she said she appreciates the wider value of the play facilities for younger children.

“When we first moved into the village five years ago there were hardly any children,” she said. “Since we have had these two there have been lots coming into the area.

“Having the park means that as children grow they will have somewhere to meet and play, and the older people will be here to watch them. They will all be going to the local school together, so it is nice to know that before they get to school, these friendships will already be formed.”

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