Kids in Heysham are doing all they can to save a much-loved play park after council cash to maintain the park ran dry.
Pupils at St Peter’s CE, Trumacar, St Patrick’s and Mossgate schools recently formed Heysham Pupil Parliament and within weeks were on the fundraising trail to boost cash for Bay Cottage Play Area.
The youngsters spent hours in the pouring rain washing cars and raised £130 for the park’s coffers, which needs £200,000 to transform the park on the promenade from disrepair to delightful with swings, slides and even a pirate ship.
The park is due to be closed in the autumn because Lancaster City Council can no longer afford to stump up the cash to maintain the run-down park, which has been branded a safety-risk.
A group of dedicated and enthusiastic locals came to the rescue and formed Friends of Bay Cottage Play Park in a bid to keep the park gates from being shut.
And, after year-long planning, consulting with locals about what they want, the group has now created a blueprint to transform the sorry site into a haven for kids to play and learn.
Ceri Hamer, deputy head at Trumacar Achool, Heysham, is heading up the pupil parliament.
She said: “Four schools in Heysham have joined forces to support the Bay Cottage Playpark appeal.
“Trumacar, St Peter’s , St Patrick’s and Mossgate schools have created the Heysham Pupil Parliament in order to empower their pupils to make a difference in their local area.
“This will also include working together to help raise money for the park.
“The schools plan to meet termly to plan future events and will be involved with the whole project until it is finished. The pupils are thriving on the opportunity to make a difference to their own community and can’t wait for the project to be completed.
“Future plans for this year include a disco and carol singing together with non-school uniform days.
“All the pupils are hoping that all members will get involved and support their aim to restore the playpark to its former glory and beyond.”
Carla Brayshaw, councilor for Heysham Central, believes the re-development of the park is “essential”.
“Now more than ever, it is essential that we encourage our children to play outdoors,” she said.
“The provision of safe and well maintained play areas is key to this and in an ideal world, this provision would be met by the local authorities.
“However, we find ourselves in austere times and so I am delighted that the Friends of Bay Cottages community group have stepped in to rescue their play park from closure.
“Determined and well informed, groups like these can make a real difference within local communities and I wish them every success in their fund raising.”
Armed with a detailed plan, which will be carried out in phases, the group hopes that work will start next year.
“This play area has been a valuable amenity for children, parents and families for many years and offers outdoor play that is so important for children’s development,” said Sue Joy-Eatock, chairman of the Friends of Bay Cottage play area.
“It opens up the chance to access the beach and all the fun children love by being near the sands.
“We want to develop a safe but fun and exciting play experience for youngsters that will remain a happy memory for those visiting area as well as local residents.
“But it is also part of Heysham’s rich historical tapestry, and so it is great for the area in that respect too.”
Back in the 1800s, the site was home to a grand house, built by local builder John Hatch and became known as “Pot90 House Inn”.
It survived ferocious storms which battered the coastline and high waves, which are known to have licked up other homes along the promenade.
The large house was later converted into two cottages, South Cottage and Bay Cottage, surviving the notorious 1907 storm.
As local folklore goes, it is believed that a sailing boat was cemented in the rocks by the side of the cottages in memory to two local boys, who drowned while sailing.
But by 1968, the cottages had been demolished and in 1970s the site was turned into a play area – although the original walls still form part of the play park now.
Lee Roberts grew up in Heysham and fondly remembers the park as a child.
“Me and my grandad would get for fish and chips and then take them to the play park for a treat,” said the dad-of-four.
“The memories of a trip to the park are precious,
“Everyone has special memories from childhood, and many will involve the park, which is why is it so important that we work to keep them.”
The park’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/baycottageplayarea and now has a Just Giving page at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Baycottageplayparkheysham.
A series of events are being planned to boost funds for the park and a Race Night will take place on October 24 in Heysham.