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Grandparents 'make a park' for granddaughter at neglected recreation ground at East Studdal

When grandparents Kim and Brian Gibson moved to a small village their granddaughter Poppy was disappointed with the park there.

Just "a rusty old swing and some goal posts" was all the area offered off Downs Road, East Studdal, near Deal.

Kim Gibson promised granddaughter Poppy that she would 'make her a park' and now Poppy can't wait to play in it
Kim Gibson promised granddaughter Poppy that she would 'make her a park' and now Poppy can't wait to play in it

The pair decided to take matters into their own hands and Mrs Gibson promised the four year-old they would make her a park to play in when she visits them most weekends.

Mr Gibson said: "We approached the Sutton Parish Council and attended a meeting in September 2019 to ask if they could put in a proper children's play park.

"Unfortunately they said they had no funds but said we could seek funding ourselves."

Straight away the couple formed Studdal Park & Recreation Community (SPARC) on Facebook and looked for funding opportunities.

The group consisted of five to six local people who met twice at Studdal Church Hall.

The old swing was the only attraction at the recreation ground in East Studdal when the Gibsons moved in
The old swing was the only attraction at the recreation ground in East Studdal when the Gibsons moved in

He added: "We hurriedly put together what we thought was a super bid for Pocket Park funding from The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and were over the moon to learn in February of this year we were successful to the tune of £25,500.

"We were so fortunate to get it. It's not a deprived area as such but it's quite remote and there's no community hub for mums to get together.

"We also were fortunate to get a grant from KCC Cllr Steve Manion and another from the Parish Council."

They purchased the equipment through Playdale Ltd whose contractors fitted it.

Now, seven months after the concept was born, they are delighted with the village's new park with swings, slide, adventure trail and a tractor.

The new park at East Studdal is fully equipped and a real attraction
The new park at East Studdal is fully equipped and a real attraction

It's an ideal stomping ground for their six grandchildren, all of whom are under five.

Mr Gibson said: "Poppy is over the moon and can't wait to get in there.

"We're so proud of ourselves because we're not fundraisers, we have normal jobs but we do have a sense of achievement.

"The park cost £30,000 in the end.

"It is out of bounds until Saturday July 4 when Covid restriction are lifted."

Brian Gibson said granddaughter Poppy wasn't impressed with the offering at East Studdal recreation ground
Brian Gibson said granddaughter Poppy wasn't impressed with the offering at East Studdal recreation ground

The couple have unofficially called the area Poppy's Park and have handed it over to land owners the parish council.

The authority sent them a "wonderful letter" thanking them for getting the equipment put in.

The park will be officially opened by Cllr Manion at a special community picnic on Saturday, July 4 at noon.

The event is open to the public and families can bring their own food and drink and will have to take away their own rubbish.

But despite the celebrations, the couple are resolute they won't stop there.

They are already hoping to seek further grants to instal equipment for disabled children and eventually adult exercise.

Other groups in the area to be successful in getting up to date equipment in play parks include the Friends of Poulders Play Area in Sandwich and the Friends of Kingsdown Play Park.

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