Southwell is about to see the opening of a wonderful new play park because of the vision and dedication of a small group of local parents. In just over eighteen months, Friends of Southwell Parks (FoSP) has worked with children and schools to design the park, raise funds within the community and engage prominent businesses for sponsorship. They have successfully applied for grant funding and over the past two months have turned their hand to project managing the installation of the park. This is quite an achievement considering all the volunteers are fitting in efforts between work and looking after small children.

But FoSP would be the first to acknowledge that the redevelopment of the park on Bishop's Drive has only happened because of a community effort that we can all be proud of. Children have had their faces painted and made holiday crafts, parents have taken part in a pub quiz and helped with fundraising and many, many residents have simply put their hand in their pockets for a good cause. Volunteers from Brackenhurst have been helping with installation of sculptures and a local farmer has reconditioned the roundabout from the original park.

The contribution of local businesses has been invaluable. A&V Squires Ltd have not only allowed the park to expand on their land, but have been clearing and preparing the site free of charge. Gascoines have bought a play- house and five benches have been sponsored by All Mine Cakes, Tallents Solicitors, Minster Conservatories, Doors & Windows, Southwell Masonic Society and Nottingham Trent University - Brackenhurst Campus. Other local businesses, nurseries and schools kindly made donations towards the project too.

Southwell Town Council donated £20000 to the new park and will take over maintenance once the park is completed. Peter Harris, Town Councillor, said 'I have been honoured to work with such a motivated group of residents to achieve such a significant improvement for youngsters in the town. FoSP have managed to get a fantastic new play area in the War Memorial Park. They have worked so hard to get this £110,000 project ready - and I am really looking forward to its opening very soon.'

The dedication of our community means that local children will have a magnificent and unique play facility for years to come, one which will undoubtedly attract visitors to the town. The park has been developed with the iconic Bramley Apple in mind, which will feature on play equipment and has inspired an apple sculpture made from willow and a wooden caterpillar for children to climb on.

The park will be open from Saturday 3rd December to allow time for the grass seed to establish. So, the next time you walk past the park please take a moment to be proud of what our small community has achieved together. And as for Friends of Southwell Parks? They are already working with Brakenhurst students to see how the park might be expanded to include a sensory garden for children to explore.

An opening party is being planned for that weekend. Further details on the FoSP and Bramley Newspaper Facebook pages.

Gwyneth Rogers