Wednesday, 02 December 2020

Refurbished play area to be named after community hero

A NEW play area in Watlington is set to be named after a former parish councillor

A NEW play area in Watlington is set to be named after a former parish councillor who gave years of service to the community.

The family of Ted Backhouse, who died last month, aged 85, has asked that donations in his memory be made to the £20,000 Paddock play area.

Mr Backhouse, a father-of-four who lived in Orchard Walk, had been in the town for more than 35 years and used to run the Paper Shop in High Street.

He was on the parish council for 18 years, serving on a number of commitees, until he left the in 2013 for personal reasons.

The play area, which is behind Old School Place, opened in 2002 and the now the quipment needs replacing.

Parish councillor Rachel Huckvale, who has been leading a fund-raising drive, said: “I’m really committed to getting it built by early autumn at the absolute latest. I think another winter would be the last for some of the equipment.

“It has long exceeded its life expectancy and is rotten and unsafe. Some elements have had to be removed already.

“The plan at the moment is to name the play area the Ted Backhouse Playground.” The new equipment will be wooden and will include wobble boards, a net tunnel, and a slide with a climbing wall leading up to it. There will also be stepping stones and balancing logs.

Cllr Huckvale said: “We have been aiming all along to provide something for everybody. We have younger children in mind a little bit because the recreation ground caters for the older children. We’re trying to make it different and a bit more creative.”

Cllr Huckvale, who has a two-year-old daughter, Caroline, added: “I’m really passionate about it for that reason. It’s such a central area in the town and everybody walks through it, even if you don’t have children or use the play area itself.

“Everybody I’ve spoken to has such fond memories of playing with their children there or enjoying it as it’s a much more intimate space.

“I think it’s important for the community that it’s maintained as a play area and kept as a space for families. It would be very sad to lose it.” The total cost of the project is £19,222, which includes the new equipment, installation and the removal of the old equipment.

The parish council has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council for a grant to cover half the cost and to the Oxfordshire Community Foundation for £3,000, which will be decided by June 2.

The project has already received a £500 grant from the Doris Field Trust, which supports community projects, and £1,500 from Watlington Public Charities while £2,000 has been allocated in the parish council’s budget. Another £250 has been raised in donations and £360 from a Justgiving page.

Future fund-raising events include a community poetry day, a boot camp and a spring clean sale.

To make a donation, call the parish office on (01491) 613867 weekdays between 9.30am and 12.30pm or visit watlingtonpaddock

Mr Backhouses’s funeral took place on Thursday last week.

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