IDEN GREEN’S NEW PLAYGROUND OPENS
The children of Iden Green, together with their parents and grandparents, turned out in force on Saturday 5th June for the official opening of the village’s impressive new playground, which was bedecked for the day in celebratory red, white and blue bunting.
At a little after 3pm, on a gloriously sunny summer afternoon, two of the children - Willow Russell and Anna Featherstone, both aged 4 - pulled apart a big, blue bow to mark the opening. They then led the way into the playground to try out the equipment for the first time.
In opening remarks, Jonathan Strong, chairman of Benenden Village Trust, said the playground was a “real community project of which the Parish can be justly proud.” BVT is the charity responsible for the playgrounds and recreation grounds in both Iden Green and Benenden, as well as Benenden Village Hall.
Most of the work in planning the new playground and managing the project was carried out by the Friends of Iden Green Playground, a group of village volunteers which also fund-raised. The Friends were led by Julie Lewis, who lives close to the playground, and also involved Georgie Russell and Naomi Featherstone, the mothers of Willow and Anna.
The playground appeal raised a remarkable £49,850.88 in donations. Jonathan Strong thanked all those who had donated so generously, both individuals and organisations, and said the project would not have been possible without the time, effort, funding and work of a large group of people. He singled out the Friends, under the leadership of the “indomitable” Julie.
She was in the front line throughout the project, liaising with the contractors, and also planned the opening celebrations.
Jonathan also thanked Caroline Levett, BVT’s manager, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep everything in order, and co-trustee Martin Dickson, who had been heavily involved throughout the procurement and construction phases.
The playground, built by Sovereign Design Play Systems, replaces a smaller one that had to be closed last year because it was potentially dangerous. The new equipment includes two multi-functional wooden climbing frames with slides, as well as swings, safe surfacing and a picnic bench.
The final cost is expected to top £48,000. Any surplus in the appeal fund will be ring-fenced by BVT for the maintenance of the playgrounds in Iden Green and Benenden. The Trust would be delighted to receive further donations for this purpose.
The appeal received contributions from 32 individuals as well as some substantial funding from larger bodies. These were BVT itself, Benenden’s Shop, Benenden Parish Council, the David Friday Trust Fund, the Henhurst Charitable Trust, Liberty Speciality Markets, and Benenden Girls’ School. Kent County Council gave a Member Grant through Councillor Seán Holden.
Thanks are also due to John Kingsnorth and Sarah Cyster who spent a day with their own digger, tractor and trailer clearing the old playground of bark and then compacting the surface.
Trustees are extremely grateful to everyone who gave so generously in so many different ways.
After the opening ceremony, the adults enjoyed refreshments - in a Covid-secure, socially distanced environment - while the children explored the equipment.
The last word should go to a child using the playground two days later, who was overheard saying to his friend: “This playground used to be rubbish, but it’s amazing now!”
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Members approved the Trustee Report and Financial Statements to year-end 31st March 2020 and the appointment of three new Trustees - Olivia Collier, Athena Cripps and Martin Dickson.
From October 2020 the Trustee Board consists of Kent Barker, Tom Dawlings, Sally Ann Marks, Jonathan Strong, Richard Stubbings and the three newcomers.
At the first meeting of the new Board, Jonathan Strong was elected as Chairman and Kent Barker as Vice Chairman.
The work of the Trust has been split into Working Groups and Trustees appointed to each group.
- Policies and Processes : Athena Cripps, Sally Ann Marks, Richard Stubbings
- Membership, Public Relations and Website : Kent Barker, Olivia Collier, Martin Dickson, Jonathan Strong
- Health, Safety and Security; Playgrounds; Risk Management : Athena Cripps, Tom Dawlings, Martin Dickson
- Property Management, Maintenance and Development; Environment :Kent Barker, Olivia Collier, Richard Stubbings
- HR : Athena Cripps, Tom Dawlings, Sally Ann Marks
- Finance, Governance and Compliance : Martin Dickson, Sally Ann Marks, Jonathan Strong
- Parish and Borough Council Liaison : Kent Barker, Tom Dawlings
If you feel that you have a particular skill or interest that you can bring to the Trust then please contact any Trustee or the Trust Manager. Trustees have the ability to co-opt additional Trustees during the course of the year.