Active Kingston was a voluntary group of children, parents, grandparents, and carers who got together to raise funds to provide badly needed new play equipment in the village.
Kingston is lucky in having a field donated to the village for community use, but the play equipment was deteriorating rapidly, becoming unsafe and unattractive to youngsters and their families. Kingston is a beautiful village, but there are limited facilities for young people, and only one bus a week for them to use to travel anywhere else for entertainment. Consultation with youngsters in the village strongly indicated that a new playground area and adventure trail, plus an aerial runway for older youngsters, would be a welcome and well-used addition to community resources.
Active Kingston, a properly constituted community group, was managed through an adult committee of eight people who liaising closely with the youngsters, consulting them about what sort of equipment they would like, and helping them to realise the fund raising ideas which they came up with. The group also worked closely with the Parish Council and the Parish Plan Implementation Group. Active Kingston's Constitution can be downloaded here.
The committee and other members of the group wanted to provide equipment which would fit in well with the beautiful rural environment, was of the highest quality, reasonably priced, and above all fun to use and would encourage youngsters between the ages of 1-15 to enjoy being outside and active.
'Active' also wanted to provide facilities for the extended family, carers, friends and visitors to the village to enjoy the field in a more relaxed way. An area with picnic tables was created to encourage many other members of the community to visit the field. They also hoped that some landscaping could be done, and a variety of trees, shrubs and wild flowers planted to add interest and ecological diversity and to make the field a much more attractive place to visit and spend time.
Any play equipment is eye-wateringly expensive, and over £50,000 was raised to provide the equipment the youngsters said they would like. This included safety surfaces which are essential and which account for much of the cost.
For over a year the village enthusiastically supported fund raising events at which the youngsters have been keen helpers and organisers.There were a number of fattening cream teas, a beautiful Bluebell Walk, several noisy quizzes, a "Hogwash Irish Night" at which the standard of dancing was questionable, but a lot of fun was had, an Activity Day for youngsters during the summer holidays organised entirely by youngsters, a Christmas Party and numerous raffles.
23rd October 2010: IT'S OPEN!
''Active Kingston is very pleased to say that, at long last, the new play area and adventure trail has been officially opened by Seb Genders, a young local resident, when he took the first official ride on the aerial runway. Seb was closely followed by Kes, Daniel, Councillor Christine Marsh from Devon County Council (Chain of Office glinting in the sunshine!) Jeff, Joyce, and finally Sally from the Active Kingston Committee''.
The Weapons of Sound junk band played exuberantly to welcome everyone to the opening ceremony, and the Kingston Kids Chorus sang a 'thank you' to everyone in Kingston who had supported fund raising events over the last two years, and to the people who'd provided funds through grants : the Co-Operative Community Fund, the Big Lottery Awards for All, South Devon Coastal Local Action Group, Devon County Council, South Hams Council and Kingston Parish Council.
Squally showers of heavy rain and hail didn't prevent the youngsters from queuing up to try out all the new equipment after the speeches at the opening, and there were a lot of comments along the lines of “Fantastic!”, “I had no idea it was going to be so amazing” , “I didn't realise there was going to be so much stuff”. As it was the start of half term week, the youngsters were able to make the most of the sunshine over the next few days and spent as much time as they could up at the park from early in the morning onwards. Visitors to the village started to ask where it was, and the Parish Council has provided signposts in the vilage so that everyone knows how to find the 'Recreation Ground'.
In November 2010, as part of National Tree Week, the Parish Tree Wardens helped Kingston's Young People's Association, parents and friends plant over 300 new trees on the field. When the hedges are allowed to grow a bit, and when some wild flowers are planted, the wildlife will also start to benefit from what everyone will agree has been an ambitious, but very worthwhile project.
27th July 2011- JOB DONE!
Not far short of a year after we had our Grand Opening of the new playground equipment, during which an eminent Devon County Councillor, complete with her Chain of Office, was seen zooming down the zipwire, alongside dozens of youngsters, the Active Kingston Committee is signing itself off, its task completed.
We have watched with great pleasure as youngsters from the village and visitors from further afield have made the most of the zipwire, the toddlers' play area, and all the other equipment. We have had appreciative reports from many, such as (locally) "It's completely transformed my children's social lives", and (from a visitor) "Wow! How on earth has a small community like Kingston achieved all this?'' Last time we came to the playground it was a bit of a disappointment, but now ..."
We have seen Grannies, and Great Grannies/grandfathers, babies, toddlers, teenagers, friends and other relations up at the Recreation Ground enjoying the picnic tables with picnics and other social get togethers. We have seen a new generation of young families move back into the village and get involved in organising events at the field, and youngsters expending huge amounts of energy out in the fresh air. And we have seen new trees planted by youngsters in the village, flowers appearing, and a greater awareness of the wildlife and environment being encouraged.
Thank you, everyone who supported Active over the last three years, for making all this possible. The new Parish Council Recreation Ground Committee is now taking on responsibility for keeping an eye on things, and the remaining funds Active Kingston had in their bank account are being formally transferred to the Parish Council to be used specifically for maintaining and insuring the equipment.
THANK YOU - here's to many more years of enjoyment at Kingston's Recreation Ground.
Sally Denham - Secretary, Active Kingston