A NEW £160,000 skate park and play area for youngsters has been opened at RAF Benson.
The facility, known as Chipmunk Park, is located on the domestic site, where more than 500 families live.
Along with the skate ramps, it has swings, a trampoline, see-saw, hammock, climbing wall, balancing beams and steps and a slide.
The custom-designed park was paid for with £125,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Libor Scheme, money from fines levied on the banks, which the RAF Benevolent Fund applied for, and £30,000 from the RAF Central Fund with the remainder coming from the base itself.
Air Marshal Chris Nickol, RAF Benevolent Fund controller, officially opened the park before the children began using it.
He said: “It’s just wonderful — you only have to look at how much the kids are enjoying it and how relaxed the mums look.
“This is an additional play park for this particular area where all the families live. It’s right in the heart of the community. The idea is to provide activity space and a bit of down time for the kids and, hopefully, the parents as well.”
He said that several years ago, in response to a request from the RAF, the benevolent fund committed to providing child care centres, a youth support programme and play parks for younger children on all major stations through its Airplay programme.
Air Marshal Nickol continued: “It is just one of the ways that we support serving personnel and their families who serve alongside them. We are delighted that through our relationship with the Libor scheme we have been able to facilitate the building of this new play park and we both appreciate the additional funding provided by the RAF Central Fund and RAF Benson.”
Group Captain Nigel Colman, station commander of RAF Benson, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many eager young faces enjoying such a great facility and making the most of the last few weeks of the summer holidays.
“It can be quite difficult for our families, particularly coping with separation somewhere that is relatively isolated, so having somewhere fun they can go without travelling is absolutely brilliant. We are extremely grateful to the RAF Benevolent Fund for its continued support.”
Specialist company Lightmain took about two months to build Chipmunk Park.
Sales consultant Trevor Lafferty said: “We’re over the moon that this has turned out as we designed it. The reward we get is looking at the kids’ faces when you know you have got it right.”
Tammy Woolway, whose five-year-old son Cian has been using the play equipment, said: “I think he’ll be here all the time now because we just live a street away.”