Children’s play area finally opens after eight year campaign

Those who helped make the play park a reality.
Those who helped make the play park a reality.

A park that has been years in the making has finally been completed and opened to the public, to rave reviews.

The play area at Smawthorne Park in Castleford has seen its equipment replaced following an eight-year campaign by the Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT).

Zoe Gaitley.

Zoe Gaitley.

A sensory garden filled with plants and trees has also been planted.

SWAT leader Zoe Gaitley (pictured right), who also runs a salon Smawthorne Lane, said: “It feels amazing to have the park finally complete, it looks wonderful.

“The feedback we’ve had has been outstanding, everyone is loving it.

“Everyone is saying how full the park’s been - one resident commented how she had never seen so many kids having fun in all the 20 years she had lived there and was lovely to hear all the laughter and noise.

“It has been a long eight years but I was determined to make this happen.”

There has been no shortage of people taking to social media to praise the work of the team.

Janet Logg said on Facebook: “Both the sensory garden and the play area are faultless, you have achieved so much for our community, the memory trees are a lovely idea too.”

The group was set up in 2012 to make improvements to the green space off Smawthorne Lane which had been badly vandalised and its remaining play equipment broken.

Mrs Gaitley felt that the park had huge potential and vowed to stir up interest by delivering thousands of leaflets to residents asking what they wanted to see put in place.

Since then, thousands of pounds have been raised through year-round events and the annual gala day.

Last year a memorial garden was completed at the park in memory of Castleford soldier, Craig Hopson. The 24-year-old died while on tour in Afghanistan in 2009.

Then in December last year an undisclosed amount of funding was granted to improvement the play equipment at the park and work started earlier this year.

Despite its completion, the group is to continue fundraising for the upkeep of the park, starting with the annual gala planned on Sunday, June 30.