Shipton Bellinger, having recently come out on top in a recent survey as best village in Britain, now has another reason to be proud.
The village had a small play area, which was aimed at the under 11’s, but Shipton Bellinger Parish Council decided that it was time there was more for the older children. A consultation afternoon was arranged to find out exactly what play equipment the children would like and, following a fact finding trip to two other recently installed play parks in Tidworth and Bulford, several companies were contacted to get quotes. Play equipment, it turns out, is not cheap and the search began for £67,000 of funding.
With a big military presence in the village, and being very close to Tidworth, the first port of call was to The Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant scheme, closely followed by Test Valley Borough Council’s Community Asset Fund, which is a matched funding scheme. After a lot of form filling and an anxious waiting, both organisations offered grants. A bid of £27,100 to The Armed Forces Community Covenant was successful as was the bid of £25,000 to Test Valley and the top of what had seemed an impossible mountain to climb was in sight.
Shipton Bellinger has two solar farms within its Parish, so the companies involved were contacted for a community donation. Since completion, three companies had been involved in the farms and so it took some time, but a year of persistence paid off when the three companies agreed to contribute to the project and donated £10,000 between them. This, along with other donations, meant the play park was set to become a reality.
This reality finally came about on September 5th when the first children, and parents, were able to enjoy the new play park. From the comments received and numbers of children and young-at-heart using the facility, especially the amount of laughter coming from the play area, the Parish Council are very pleased to say, “We think it is a success!”