10:20am Sunday 29th April 2012
By Jade Coulon
A PLAY area which was riddled by vandalism and looked set to close over safety fears has been reopened by Olympic great Sir Steve Redgrave after a £60,000 revamp.
The record breaking rower said he was honoured to officially open the park just metres from his childhood home.
The legendary Olympian was joined by Wycombe MP Steve Baker to cut the ribbon at Marlow Bottom playing fields.
Rides had been set alight in the past and equipment coated in graffiti in recent years.
Having grown up next to Burford School, Sir Steve was delighted to see the improved playground.
He said: “This was my play area as a young boy. I used to kick around, climbing trees up in the woods and all sorts of different things, but it’s changed a lot since then.
“Obviously giving young people the opportunity to have some fun things to play on and getting them outdoors is an ideal thing.”
As well as an eager crowd of children and young people, Sir Steve was excited to try out the new equipment last week.
He said: “I can't wait to get out there and have a go myself, even though I have just had a birthday and I am now in my 50's, very old indeed.”
Volunteer mums and dads from Marlow Bottom Playing Fields Committee battled for years to find funding, knowing they needed to find a whopping £60,000.
The hardworking group raised £30,000 through the annual Rose Carnival and firework display with a further £30,000 match funded by waste management company Biffa.
The park now has brand new equipment including a seesaw, slides and basketball net.
The refurbished site has been a big hit since it opened to the public in February.
Committee chairman Jason Batten said: “We reckon we've seen about a tenfold increase in usage since we put the new scheme in and it’s expanded the age range of it as well.
“We’ve tried to balance it out and that came through from the consultation we did with the people in the village as part of the process so hopefully we've satisfied everyone's requirements, but I guess the increased usage is testament to that.”
Community based projects like this one are encouraged by the Government.
Marlow Bottom's MP Steve Baker was delighted to see such a success story.
He said: “It's beautiful isn't it, I'm not sure I ever had a park like this when I was growing up so I'm really delighted for Marlow Bottom to have such a beautiful playground.
“A key plan for the government’s programme for giving people more power over their lives is this idea of localism and there are all sorts of ideas about allowing people communities to designate areas as protected green spaces.”
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